The toy horse derby is a traditional funfair game – everyone pays £1, which they bet on one of the eight or so toy horses, which set off on a quick race across the stand. We’ve placed the toy horse derby right inside the real UK Derby horse race, overlaying slabs of real commentary, with samples of the pounding hooves of galloping horses.
“I heard a theory about the music of the south or the blues. It outlined the many influences from all sorts of sources, in particular through the mixing of cultures while the railroads were being built. All these diverse sources blended to make the songs we recognise today. I wanted to disaggregate the history of these sounds and make a piece combining all the originals as part of the reimagining, reflecting all the different peoples who went into the making of the prison song.”
We’re proud to complete the Prison Songs project today by releasing a FREE compilation album of some of the highlights. Here are a dozen reimagined prison songs, each one taking a wildly different approach to that song, from the musical to the percussive, the abstract to the narrative.
“There’s a sense of ambiguity in these chain gang songs. On the one hand, the brutal oppression; on the other hand the joy of singing together. I tried to capture that duality with two droning guitars that, at some point, melt with the original recording.”
“I put the prison song, “Jumpin’ Judy” onto the stereo and get down to work. As I slap gesso onto raw canvas, the rhythmic striking of the prisoners’ hoes keeps the beat. I am reminded of the opening and closing scenes in Hitchcock’s Rear Window, a composed field recording of neighbours’ sound-making: radios and hi-fis play, a song-writer plays and sings, the city rumbles.”