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Baker's Dozen

Kernow Calling: Mark Jenkin’s Favourite Albums
Sean McGeady , January 18th, 2023 09:12

Cornish bard Mark Jenkin talks Sean McGeady through the soundtracks to his teenage summers, long drives to the hospital, and lonely afternoons hand-processing celluloid, from Junior Wells to Joni Mitchell


Brenda Wootton – Gwavas Lake

It could be anything from Brenda really. I’ve probably got three or four of her records on vinyl that I’ve picked up mostly in charity shops. They’re the sort of records that local people would have, because Brenda was what you’d call a Newlyn maid. That painting on the front is by Stanhope Forbes, who was from the original Newlyn School.

The reason I chose this one is because it’s representative of Brenda but also because it’s specific to Enys Men. I picked it because of the track ‘The Bristol Christ’. I was listening to this as I was editing Enys Men. There’s a scene in the kitchen where Mary’s waiting for the kettle to boil and ‘The Bristol Christ’ is playing. All I did is, that microphone that’s up on the ledge there, I just opened the microphone on the desk, stayed very quiet and recorded the record playing from there, out of these speakers and into the microphone. That’s what you hear in the film.

‘The Bristol Christ’ is actually a poem by Charles Causley, set to music by Alex Atterson and then sung on this record by Brenda. Charles Causley is probably Cornwall’s most famous poet. So you’ve got Brenda, who’s a Cornish institution, especially in Newlyn, singing Charles Causley’s words. She’s also singing with a male voice choir. In ‘The Bristol Christ’, she’s got a voice like the wind and the choir surge like the sea in the background. It’s so primitive, the way it would’ve been recorded, but it sounds absolutely incredible.

Brenda Wootton, before she got married, was an Ellery. Georgia Ellery, who plays Katie the holidaymaker in Bait – same family. Georgia is now one half of Jockstrap, and in Black Country, New Road. This record covers Newlyn, Brenda, male voice choirs, Charles Causley, and Georgia Ellery. So it allows me to mention Jockstrap as well.