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R2 Magazine Interview with Leon Rosselson

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History lesson

Homegrown singer-songwriter Leon Rosselson is currently celebrating fifty years of songs with a conscience. Sean McGhee leads the tributes

I first became aware of the name Leon Rosselson back in the summer of 1986 when a friend put together a compilation cassette tape of, in his words, 'radical folk singers' for me. On the tape, amongst names like Peter Nardini, Dick Gaughan and Alex Glasgow were recordings of a duo, Leon Rosselson & Roy Bailey, performing evocatively titled songs such as 'Whoever Invented The Fishfinger', 'Barney's Epic Homer', 'The Ugly Ones' and 'The Diggers' Song'. I was particularly taken with Rosselson & Bailey.

At the time I was absorbing as much of this type of music as I could, alongside a steady musical diet of Christy MooreBilly Bragg and The Pogues. In my mind's eye I'd imagined Leon Rosselson (the songwriter of the duo) as some radical young folk singer, for the timelessness of his songs and the sentiments seemed perfectly suited to the period. A bit of library research (pre-Internet) and asking around revealed that Rosselson was in his early fifties and had, as I discovered, been writing, recording and performing since the late 1950s.

When I decided to set out on my youthful musical evangelical journey with Rock'n'Reel (now R2) back in early 1988, Leon Rosselson seemed a perfect interview subject for the launch issue. I managed to obtain his address via a letter to the press and publicity person at Topic Records (a certain John Crosby, these days a contributor to R2) and duly sent off my hand-typed questions to Leon on a page of A4 paper.

Consequently, Rosselson became one of the first-ever artists to be interviewed, albeit in my own idiosyncratic way, in the pages of a fledgling Rock'n'Reel. Since then, the magazine and its editor consistently kept abreast of developments at Rosselson HQ as he continued to record, perform and occasionally participate with our old friend (and sometime R2 contributor) Robb Johnson.

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 February 2012 11:29

The World Turned Upside Down - OUT NOW!

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The World Turned Upside Down CD

Leon's new record, The World Turned Upside Down box set, is now available for purchase.

Click here for more information. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 December 2011 21:59

People's Park Mural

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The words of Leon Rosselson's The World Turned Upside Down painted on a colourful mural on the toilet walls in People's Park, Berkeley.

People's Park was the scene of a famous battle on 15 May 1969 when, on the orders of the University, the police seized the park and erected a chain link fence round it. Thousands demonstrated to take back the park. The police used tear gas and live bullets against the demonstrators. One man was killed and 128 hospitalised. Despite the attempts of the University to make it their exclusive property, the park still remains open to all.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 07:24

Leon Rosselson Box Set

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Thanks to everyone who helped with Leon Rosselson's final tour of Canada & the States: 5 weeks, 2 festivals, 15 concerts, 3 radio programmes, 1 record launch and not enough sleep.  
Leon Rosselson - The World Turned Upside Down
Those who were unable to buy the 4 CD Box Set on the tour, can buy it from PM Press. Click on https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=353
The 4 CDs in this box set contain 72 songs, covering 5 decades of songwriting, from the sparky sixties to the curdled present, and encompass a wide variety of song subjects and song forms. They have been written out of hope, anger, love, scorn, laughter and despair.  And because they have something to say about the times in which they were written, there is an 80 page booklet containing copious notes on the political and personal environments that formed them, along with some pointed observations on the craft of songwriting. 

Frankie Armstrong, Roy Bailey, Mark Bassey, Steve Berry, Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy, Howard Evans, Clare Lintott, Chris Foster, Sue Harris, Paul Jayasinha,  John Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Mansfield, Janet Russell, Ruth Rosselson, Fiz Shapur, Dave Swarbrick, Miranda Sykes, Roger Williams, The 3 City 4, The Oyster Band, and The Sheffield Socialist Choir all contribute.

The release date for the box set in the UK is 3rd October. It will be distributed by Proper Music Distribution Ltd. 
In the U.S.A. & Canada, this CD can be bought via the PM Press website 

Leon Rosselson at Liverpool Acoustic Live

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Tickets at http://www.wegottickets.com/event/104400 

Liverpool Acoustic Live

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 April 2011 09:47

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Catch Leon's Next Gig