Published on November 28, 2012
Laura Jean Grant : firstname.lastname@example.org
SYDNEY — One of the most influential albums in Cape Breton recording history has been re-released, offering generations of John Allan Cameron fans a trip down memory lane.
Here Comes John Allan Cameron, the debut album from the legendary Celtic singer and musician, is now available on CD. It’s been 44 years since it was released on vinyl in 1968.
The re-release project was spearheaded by John Allan’s son Stuart who, six years after his father’s death, continues to regularly receive messages from people across the country who fondly recall John Allan and his music.
“I hear from a lot of people now saying ‘I remember this record, my parents had it,’ and a lot of people in this country have the record and now they have the opportunity to have it again,” he said.
Stuart said it’s important to him to sustain his father’s music, describing it as a significant piece of Canadiana.
“He was really the pioneer and a lot of those songs on Here Comes John Allan Cameron were old songs to begin with, but then they became his songs. They became John Allan songs and you still go to parties today in Cape Breton and people will sing John Allan songs,” he said. “Those songs exist because he was passionate about them, he identified with them, and he made it a part of his own personality.”
In order to make the re-release of Here Comes John Allan Cameron happen, Stuart approached local producer Stephen MacDonald, the man behind many compilation albums, including the popular “Sounds of Nova Scotia” series. Stephen, who often featured John Allan on various compilation albums, said he learned even more about him in the course of working on the re-release as project director.
“I really did gain an appreciation of how much significance that John Allan had to the music scene and how really tied in (he was) to what was happening in the world, especially in the folk music scene,” he said.
“John Allan certainly stands out as being one of the early showpeople of the genre, that were entertainers as well as proficient artists and musicians,” he said. “He just loved to entertain a crowd, he loved to tell stories, he loved to make people laugh.”
Stephen said local musician and researcher Paul MacDonald was instrumental in bringing the album to life. Brought on board to enhance the liner notes, Paul soon made it his mission to find the master of Here Comes John Allan Cameron. In the process, Paul was able to find a previously undiscovered one-inch, unmixed, studio multi-track tape of the album in the basement of the home of John Allan’s brother, John Donald. That find enabled them to better restore, remix and remaster the album.
Paul also completed extensive research on John Allan and the results are featured in an informative 28-page liner booklet included with the CD. The booklet contains the original sleeve notes, photographs, essays about John Allan, and details about the history of each song.
Here Comes John Allan Cameron includes Cape Breton classics like “The Four Marys,” “There Was An Old Woman From Mabou,” “Banks of Sicily,” as well as Gaelic songs and several medleys featuring John Allan playing fiddle and pipe tunes on guitar.
Stuart said it was inspiring to go back in time and listen to the results of his father’s first recording session.
“Experiences like that only happen once. There’s a first time for everything and that was his very first time,” he said. “It was just a beautiful feeling. I could hear his voice right away and the way that he described it all I could just picture it even more vividly than I could before, so it was neat.”
Here Comes John Allan Cameron is available at the Cape Breton Curiosity Shop on Charlotte Street in Sydney, the Blue Heron Gift Shop in Baddeck, the Bear Paw Gift and Craft Shop in Inverness, Cameron Music Sales in Port Hawkesbury, and online at www.johnallancameron.com, and on iTunes.