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The Humblebums

Scottish folk outfit the Humblebums aren't perhaps as well known as their two main individual members: Gerry Rafferty, who later scored hits with Stealers Wheel and as a solo artist, and Billy Connolly, who left music to become an internationally successful stand-up comedian. Connolly actually founded the group in 1965, along with guitarist Tam Harvey; both had been regulars on the Glasgow folk circuit, and Connolly had previously been playing old-time country music in a group called the Skillet Lickers. The duo quickly became a popular attraction in Glasgow's folk clubs, particularly as Connolly honed his humorous between-song patter, which became an increasingly large part of their already whimsical act. After a few years of local celebrity, the Humblebums recorded their debut album, First Collection of Merrie Melodies, for the Transatlantic label, employing bassist Ronnie Rae to flesh out their sound; the repertoire was split between traditional folk songs and Connolly originals.

Not long after the album's release, budding singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty (a former member of a beat group called Fifth Column) approached the duo after one of their gigs for feedback on his original songs. He wound up being invited to join the group, officially making them a trio. Rafferty's songs soon took a prominent place in their repertoire, which led to friction with Tam Harvey; he departed around half a year into Rafferty's tenure. Toward the end of 1969, Rafferty and Connolly entered the studio together and cut the second Humblebums LP, The New Humblebums, which began to feature brass and woodwind arrangements. With Rafferty's pop instincts, the Humblebums grew more popular on the live circuit than ever, and they recorded another album in a similar vein, 1970's Open Up the Door. However, there was growing dissension between Rafferty and Connolly. Rafferty's material had a more serious bent than Connolly's lighthearted, dryly witty offerings, and Connolly's comedy bits were taking up a large portion of the Humblebums' stage show, to the point where Rafferty wanted him to cut the comedy altogether. Moreover, the extra session musicians who were used on Open Up the Door made it difficult for the duo to capture the feel of the record on stage. It was no surprise when the Humblebums broke up in 1971. Rafferty moved on to Stealers Wheel, best known for their hit "Stuck in the Middle With You," and later went solo, scoring a huge hit with "Baker Street." Connolly, meanwhile, realized that stand-up comedy was his true calling, and in a few short years became one of the most popular comedians not only in Scotland, but the whole U.K., with a career that's spanned decades. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Humble Beginnings: The Complete Transatlantic Recordings 1969-74

Disc 1

1. Why Don't They Come Back To Dunoon

2. My Dixie Darling

3. Now I Feel So Old

4. A Little Of Your Time

5. Saltcoats At The Fair

6. Victory Rag

7. Will You Follow Me

8. Little Blue Lady

9. Travel Away

10. Come Drink My Wine

11. Cripple Creek

12. Close Your Eyes

13. Windy And Warm

Disc 2

1. Look Over The Hills And Far Away

2. Saturday Round About Sunday

3. Patrick

4. Everybody Knows That

5. Rick Rack

6. Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway

7. Please Sing A Song For Us

8. Joe Dempsey

9. Blood And Glory

10. Coconut Tree

11. Silk Pyjamas

12. Goodbye-Ee

Disc 3

1. My Apartment

2. I Can't Stop Now

3. Open Up The Door

4. Mary Of The Mountains

5. All The Best People Do It

6. Steamboat Row

7. Mother

8. Shoe Shine Boy

9. Cruisin'

10. Keep It To Yourself

11. Oh No

12. Song For Simon

13. Harry

14. My Singing Bird

Disc 4

1. Stainless Steel Wellies

2. Song For A Small Man

3. The Donkey

4. Telling Lies

5. Glasgow Central

6. Good Love

7. A Little Of Your Time

8. Near You

9. Winchburgh Junction

10. Oh, Dear

11. McGinty

12. Talkin' Blues (What's In A Name)

Disc 5

1. Glasgow Accents / Nine And A Half Guitars

2. Marie's Wedding (Musical Appreciation): The Music Teacher

3. Harry Campbell And The Heavies / Harry Campbell And The Heavies / The World Is Waiting For Sunshine

4. Nobody's Child

5. A Life In The Day Of

Disc 6

1. The Jobbie Weecha !!!! / Please Help Me, I'm Falling

2. The Short-Haired Police Cadet

3. Leo McGuire's Song

4. The Crucifixion

5. If It Wasnae For Your Wellies

x

Track List: Troubadours Of Folk: The 60's Acoustic Explosion

Disc 1

1. 500 Miles Away From Home

2. The Wild Rover

4. Universal Soldier

5. Blues Run The Game

6. Farewell (Fare Thee Well)

7. Car Car (Riding In My Car)

8. I'm So Confused

9. Needle Of Death

10. Kimbie

11. Catch The Wind

12. I'm Not Sayin'

13. Cod Liver Oil And Orange Juice

14. Blowin' In The Wind

15. Goldfish Bowl

16. Long Ago Far Away

17. John Henry

18. Dirty Old Town

19. Blackwaterside

20. Girl From The North Country

21. Ev'ry Time (When We Are Gone)

Disc 2

1. Big Fat Silver Aeroplane

2. Frutch

3. The Gallowgate Calypso

4. This Train

5. Yesterday's Dream

6. Willy O'Winsbury

7. In The Shade

8. Don't You Feel Good

9. Dwarf In A Tree ( A Cautionary Tale)

10. Blind Blake's Rag

12. Reynardine

13. Why Don't They Come Back To Dunoon?

14. Goodbye Booze

15. Eternity Will Soon Be Over

18. When You Don't Care For Me

19. William Taplin

20. Streets Of London

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