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Brief Biography
Michael Raven was born in Cardiff of Lancastrian parents in 1938.

He was educated at Towyn Grammar School and Keele University where he studied geology and political philosophy.

He was a keen sportsman and in 1956, at the age of 18, he was the men’s Midlands Decathlon Champion.

He did his National Service with the Cheshire Regiment on active service in Malaya where he was an Acting Sergeant and double Marksman on both the rifle and the Bren light machine gun.

On leaving college he did a variety of jobs from pipe-line labourer to lorry driver before going to Spain to learn flamenco guitar. Shortly afterwards he became a professional musician, writer and researcher into the folklore of the West Midlands.

He has some 80 books and 50 CDs to his credit. He was an active performer both as a solo guitarist and as a member of several groups, including The Black Country Three, which regularly appeared on radio and television. In 1972 he accompanied Mary Hopkin (Those were the Days) for a summer season at Margate and established the Stafford Spanish Guitar Centre. He spent several years full-time teaching at the centre and at Universities and Colleges of Education, and performed and recorded with folk singer Joan Mills.

He then developed a keen interest in local history and photography and his researches resulted in comprehensive and highly- regarded guides to the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire, books of landscape photography and original poetry.

All his life he was a dog lover and a supporter of The League Against Cruel Sports.

Michael Raven died on 15th April 2008 at the age of 70. However, he will live on in his books and recordings (see above for sales information). Michael was a guitarist, composer, poet and writer and his vast output will continue to be enjoyed by all those who admired the work of this remarkable and very special man.

Recordings

Hymn to Che Guevara
Album cover - Hymn to Che Guevara
Album cover – Hymn to Che Guevara

Michael Raven and Joan Mills’ second LP on the Folk Heritage label. Early 1970s. Only 100 were pressed. This, and the Death and the Lady LP, will cost you £300 each today, if you can find a copy of either one.

 

Album cover of A Shorpshire Lad
Album cover of A Shropshire Lad

A Shropshire Lad
Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals)
Price £9.99 (CD) Click on link below to purchase
CDMR69 An 80 minute CD. 17 Housman poems, set to traditional melodies, alternate with 20 Welsh tunes arranged for solo guitar. Released 1994. A companion book is available. Just as a matter of interest, Housman refused to let his poems be broadcast by the BBC unless they were put to melodies and sung.

Click on play below to hear a sample of the track “True Lover”

Sample Track 9 – Along the Fields

CLICK to buy this CD – CDMR69 – A Shropshire Lad – Housman 

 

Welsh Guitar

Album cover - Welsh Guitar - Michael Raven
Welsh Guitar – Michael Raven

Michael Raven
Price £7.50 (CD)
CDMR7
Recordings of Welsh airs and dances. The music of all 47 recordings are published in the book Welsh Guitar. Playing time 80 minutes. Straight, honest recordings with no editing or effects. The guitar is a custom-made Lowden. Recorded in 1995 in a cottage in the Welsh borders. Michael Raven was born in Cardiff and went to Towyn Grammar School, near Aberdovey.

CLICK TO Buy this CD – CDMR7 – Welsh Guitar

 

Recital

Album cover - Recital - Michael Raven and Joan Mills
Recital – Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals)
Price £6.50 (CD)
CDMR70 This is a companion recording to the book English Folk Guitar Book 4. Songs and guitar solos alternate. There are 24 tracks in all,, including Raglan Road, Illic Jacet (Housman), Moorlough Shore, Fortune my Foe, Lass from the Low Country, Minuet de la Cour, and Brisk Young Widow, etc. 79 minutes playing time. “Classic performances.” Derek Giffard

Sample track 1 – Lass from the Low Country

Click to buy this CD – CDMR70 – Recital

 

 

Flowers of Picardy

Album cover - Flowers of Picardy - Michael Raven and Joan Mills
Flowers of Picardy – Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals)
Price £6.50 (CD)
CDMR73 Songs alternate with instrumentals and poems throughout. There are 28 tracks with a playing time of 77 minutes. Titles include Dancing Lady, Robin Hood’s Dance, Trecynon Polka, Adson’s Saraband, Over the Wall, Paris Polka, Cluster of Nuts, etc.

Click to buy this CD – CDMR73 – Flowers of Picardy

 

Songs and Solos

Album cover - Songs and Solos - Michael Raven and Joan Mills
Songs and Solos – Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals)
Price £6.50 (CD)
CDMR68. An 80 minute CD. 24 guitar solos and 13 songs. Released in 1994. Traditional and contemporary. “Quite exceptional”, Nick Beale, Folk Roots. A companion book is available. See under Guitar Music.

Sample track 16 – Waiting for Wages

Click to buy this CD – CDMR68 – Songs and Solos

 

Songs and Dances of Herefordshire

Album cover - Songs and dances of Herefordshire, Michael Raven and Joan Mills
Songs and dances of Herefordshire, Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals)
with guests Pat and Roy Palmer Price £9.99 (CD)
CDMR76. Duration 79 minutes. 16 songs, 10 guitar solos, 3 viola tunes and 4 poems. Some enchanting music, most of it previously unrecorded. Many of the songs were collected at the Ross Workhouse, demolished in 1995. All the music on the CD is printed in the Ross Workhouse Songbook.

Sample Track 7 – Banks of Sweet Primroses

Click to by this CD – CDMR76 – Songs and Dances of Herefordshire

 

Retrospective

Album cover - Retrospective - Michael Raven
Retrospective – Michael Raven

Michael Raven
Price £7.50 (CD)
CDMR75. 35 tracks with 72 minutes playing time of solo guitar. Consists of three parts: all the tracks but one from Gipsy: A Variety of Guitar Music (Cambrian SCLP610) recorded in one three hour session in 1973; the Suites in E and D from A Miscellany of Guitar Music (broadside BRO124) recorded in 1977; and An English Collection 1, recorded in 1995.

Click to buy this CD – CDMR75 – Retrospective

 

 

Taming the Dragon’s Strings

Album cover - Taming the Dragon's Strings, Michael Raven and Joan Mills
Taming the Dragon’s Strings, Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals) Price £7.50 (CD)
CDMR71. Duration 71 minutes. 23 guitar solos, 2 Housman songs (The West, and Loveliest of Trees), and 21 original poems from Song of the Fox, recited by Michael Raven. Guitar solos include the very popular Spanish Morris, Christmas at Soulton Hall, and Lovely on the Water. Amongst the poems are Foxy’s Flying, Dark-haired Daughters and Pell Wall Hall.

Click to buy this CD – CDMR71 – Taming the Dragon’s Strings

 

The Reynardine Tapes

Album cover - The Reynardine Tapes
The Reynardine Tapes

Michael Raven (guitar, cittern, mandolin, bass, organ);
Joan Mills (vocal, guitar, drum);
John Rose (fiddle);
Ado Morris (tin whistle, guitar)
Price £3.50
CDMR72. Duration 75 minutes. 22 tracks, 10 with Reynardine recorded In 1979. Songs and lively dance tunes. Titles include the band versions of Queen of the Night, Hungarian Hat, and Three Hearty Young Poachers, and the increasingly popular Old Dublin Fireman, recorded by Mike and Joan in 1995. There are also two concert guitar solos – the Lichfield Bower Processional, and the epic Tarantos.

CLICK to buy this CD – CDMR72 – Taming the Dragon’s Strings

 

 

The Halliard : Jon Raven/The Jolly Machine

SORRY SOLD OUT — SORRY SOLD OUT — SORRY SOLD OUT

Album cover - The Halliard
The Halliard

Nic Jones, Dave Moran, Nigel Pattison, Mike Raven & Joan Mills with Saga (2-LP reissue)

CDMR77. Duration 79 minutes. This CD is a slightly modified reissue of two LP records. The Halliard: Jon Raven (Broadside BRO 106), first issued in 1968, was made for the Halliard’s farewell tour and contains some of their best known songs: Going for a Soldier Jenny, Lancashire Lads, Calico Printer’s Clerk, and Ladies Don’t Go a Thievin’, etc. Two tracks from The Black Country Three (Transatlantic TRA 140) have been included. The Jolly Machine (Folk Heritage FHR 053) was recorded by Michael Raven and Joan Mills with Derby group Saga in 1974. All the songs are in the Jolly Machine book. The Black Country Three end the proceedings with the Dudley Canal Tunnel Song. 29 tracks in all.

 

My Old Friend

Album cover - My Old Friend, Michael Raven and Joan Mills
My Old Friend, Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven and Joan Mills
with guest Johnny Collins
Price £4.50 (CD)
CDMR80. Five guitar solos – Abbot’s Bromley Horn Dance, Sheba’s Daughter, Squire Mytton’s Gallop, Grey Valley, and Spanish Morris – and 13 songs, almost all by Mike Raven: My Old Friend (for a much missed dog called Pirate), Errol Flynn, Song for Diana, Che Guevara (once released as a single), Is My Dear Lord Asleep?, English Lanes, John Collins, Rebel Leader’s Lament, Maid from the Northlands, My Bonny Lads Away, Loveliest of Trees. All the music and words of the songs and transcriptions of all the guitar solos are printed in a 36 page booklet which comes free with the CD. This highly acclaimed recording was released in 1998. Duration: 60 minutes.

Sample – Track 1 My Old Friend

Click to buy this CD – My Old Friend

 

 

Gipsy English

Album cover - Gipsy English
Gipsy English, Michael Raven

Michael Raven
Price £7.50 (CD)
CDMR81. True solo guitar recorded in a country house in the Welsh Marches with no editing or studio enhancements whatsoever. Titles are: Lisa Lan/Road to Towyn, Coalisland Massacre, Cat Tails Polka, Lament for Limerick, Captain’s Entrance, First Tuesday in Autumn, Black Joke, Sheepskins, All People that on Earth do Dwell, Tarantella, Barcarole, Circassian Circle, Shepherd O Shepherd, Indian Queen, Maid of Provence, Glendower’s Jig, Be Thou My Vision, Chiapa, Anarchie Gordon. Recorded Autumn 1999.

Click to buy this CD – Gipsy English

 

 

Outlaw of Loch Lene (Sample available, see below.)

Album cover - Outlaw of Loch Lene, Michael Raven and Joan Collins
Outlaw of Loch Lene, Michael Raven and Joan Collins

Joan Mills
Accompanied by Michael Raven
Price £4.50 (CD)
CDMR83. “Both the instrumentation and the singing are a delight.” Mered Evans, former Head of Light Entertainment BBC Wales TV and Radio. Titles are: Sea Fever, Angel of Armagh, The Inquest, Green Rain, Secret Garden, Outlaw of Loch Lene, I would that the wars were all over, The Woods of Zamora, The Hungry Army, Mary from Dunglow, Sailor Home. Contains some outstanding ballads. Recorded in the Autumn of 1999. “Her unforced, natural approach is absolutely fine by me.” Nick Beale, Folk Roots

Sample Track 10 – Mary from Dungloe

Click to buy this CD – Outlaw of Loch Lene

 

 

CDs 

Buy two or more CD’s and get 25% off CDs.

CASSETTES

Other cassettes, including companion cassettes to books of guitar music are available, please use the contact form if you want more information.

Postage and Packaging

Add £1.50 for postage and packaging for all orders for delivery to UK addresses. For deliveries outside of the UK then please use the contact form to enquire about cost of postage and packaging to your location.

 

Recordings 2

Che Guevara
Ravenshead (Michael Raven and Joan Mills)
Big Bear
Price £4.00 (single)
Rare vinyl single released in 1980 and was popular among car workers in Birmingham and Coventry – they have their own radio stations. Fame at last!
Only about 40 left.

Click to Buy this Vinyl Single – Che Guevara 

 

SONGS OF THE BLACK COUNTRY AND THE WEST MIDLANDS

Album cover - Songs of the Black Country and West Midlands
Songs of the Black Country and West Midlands Michael Raven, Jon Raven and Jean Ward

Michael Raven
Price £5.99
This is a CD of the LP record first released in 1968 by Broadside Records (BRO100). Performers: Michael Raven and Jon Raven with Jean Ward. Contents: King Henry IV and the King of France, Bold Robin Hood and the Three Squires, The Rose Tree, Cold Blows the Wind, Come All Yew Blades, Brave Collier Lads, Collier Lass, Ballad of Trubshaw and Green (wrestlers), Wife for Sale, Nailmakers’ Strike of 1862, Wedgebury Cocking, Gabriel’s Hounds, John Wesley, William Booth, Darlaston Dogfight, Staffordshire Hornpipe, Hampton (Wolverhampton) Lullaby, Ye Three Tall Men. Jon Raven is in especially good voice on this recording.

Click to buy this CD – Songs of the Black Country and the West Midlands

 

The Black Country Three

Album cover - The Black Country Three
The Black Country Three

 

The Black Country Three
 Price £5.99
CD of the LP record first released in 1966 by Transatlantic Records (TRA140). Performers: Michael Raven, Jon Raven, Derek Craft and a session bass player. Contents: The Boxing Match, Long Ago Far Away, Buttermilk Hill, Song of the Western Men, Three Ravens, Jolly Joe, Row Bullies Row, Wedgefield Wake, Villancico, Wine of Gaul, She Moved Through the Fair, Mission of San Miguel, Riflemen of Bennington, All Bells in Paradise.

Click to buy this CD – The Black Country Three

 

THE DUTCH CONNECTION

Album Cover - The Dutch Connection
The Dutch Connection

Michael Raven and Joan Mills
Price £5.99
CD of the LP record made by Michael Raven and Joan Mills in Utrecht for Munich Records called Can y Melinydd (MU7430). Contents: Katie Cruel, Maid of Tottenham, Owain Glyndwr, Tenpenny Jig, Bedlam Boys, Constant Lover, Clerk Colvill, Burning of Auchindown, Brisk Young Widow, Night Visiting Song, Young Jane/Lord McDonald, Brave Nelson, Widow Woman’s Daughter, Can y Melinydd.

Click to buy this CD – The Dutch Connection

 

THE FOLK HERITAGE RECORDINGS

Album Cover - Folk Heritage Recordings
Folk Heritage Recordings

Michael Raven and Joan Mills
Price £5.99
CD of the majority of tracks from two LP records made by Michael Raven and Joan Mills and released on the Folk Heritage label: Death and the Lady (FHR047); Hymn to Che Guevara (FHR054). Contents from Death and the Lady are: The Jolly Highwayman, Lisa Lan, Ladies Don’t Go a-Thievin’, Robin Hood’s Dance, Sarabande, Captain’s Apprentice, Can y Melinydd/Troseg y Gareg (instrumental), Sarah Collins, White Gloves, La Russe Waltz/Paris Polka, Queen of the Night. Tracks from Hymn to Che Guevara are: Belle Star and Jesse James, Twenty Years, Melancholy Pavan, Hymn to Che Guevara, Great Train Robbery, Magpies in Picardy, little White Donkey, Dancing Lady.

Click here to buy this CD – The Folk Heritage Recordings

 

THE JOLLY MACHINE

Album cover - The Jolly Machine - Michael Raven and Joan Mills
The Jolly Machine – Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven and Joan Mills with Saga
Price £5.99
CD of the LP record made by Michael Raven and Joan Mills with folk group Saga in 1974 for the Folk Heritage label (FHR053). Subtitled: Songs of Industrial Protest and Social Discontent from the West Midlands as printed in the book of the same name. Contents: Chartists’Anthem, Nailmakers’ Lament, Charlie’s Song, Needlemakers’ Lamentation, Landlord Don’t You Cry, Freedom and Reform, John Whitehouse, Potters’ Chant, Waiting for Wages, Wednesbury Town, Jolly Machine, Colliers’ Rant, Tommy Note, Dudley Canal Tunnel Song (Push, Boys, Push) performed by the Black Country Three.

Click to buy this CD – The Jolly Machine

 

GUITAR MAGIC

Album cover - Guitar Music - Michael Raven
Guitar Music – Michael Raven

Michael Raven
Price £5.99
CD of Michael Raven’s first solo guitar LP record made for Transatlantic (XTRA 1046) in 1966. This is a record of flamenco music and was made in one three hour session in Birmingham. Contents: Jota Aragonesa, Bulerias, Black is the Colour (as a Granadinas), Zambra, Romance d’Amour, Bobby Shaftoe (with flamenco variations), Alegrias, Garrotin, El Vito, Freight Train, Soleares, Farruca.

Click to buy this CD – Guitar Magic

 

POPULAR MUSIC FOR GUITAR

Album cover - Popular Music for Guitar - Michael Raven
Popular Music for Guitar – Michael Raven

Michael Raven
Price £5.99
CD of the entire contents of the book of the same name. (See the Guitar pages of this website.). Previously only available as a cassette. Contents: Eton Boating Song, Schubert’s Serenade, Cwm Rhondda, Lovely Joan, Geordie, Fur Elise, Tom Dooley, Freight Train, Rosalita, Frankie and Johnny, Bill Bailey, Grandfather’s Clock, Ash Grove, John Brown’s Body, Juanita, Bluebell Polka, Be Thou My Vision, Old rugged Cross, Walsingham, Red Flag, Scottish Soldier, Blarney Pilgrim, Crimond, Loch Lomond, Tango Argentina, O Sole Mio, Greensleeves, Lillebulero, Prelude in E Minor, English Tarantella, Going Home, Daisy Belle, French Popular Song, Abide with Me, Don Giovanni Minuet, Claire de Lune.

Click to buy this CD – Popular Music for Guitar

CDs 

Buy two CD’s and get the cheaper for half price.

CASSETTES

The Dutch Connection

Album cover - The Dutch Connection - Michael Raven and Joan Mills
The Dutch Connection – Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals)
Price £1.50 (Cassette)
Side One was recorded in Holland in 1976. Contents: Katie Cruel, Maid of Tottenham, Owain Glyndwr, Tenpenny Bit, Mad Tom of Bedlam, Constant Lovers, Clerk Colville, Young Jane, Lord McDonald, Burning of Auchindown, Brisk Young Widow, Miller’s Song, Come Live with Me, Rogue’s Wedding, Night Visiting Song, Improvisation, Ludlow Recruit, Rex Gloria, Robin Hood and the Tanner, Little Birds of the Mountain, Tarbolton Lodge, Longford Collector, Sailor’s Bonnet, etc. (The last four titles with Reynardine.) 60 minutes playing time. Cassette only.

Click this to buy this cassette – The Dutch Connection

 

The Folk Heritage Recordings

Album cover - The Folk Heritage Recordings - Michael Raven and Joan Mills
The Folk Heritage Recordings – Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals and guitar)
Price £1.50 (Cassette)
Selected tracks from the LP Death and the Lady (1972): Jolly Highwayman, Lisa Lan, Ladies Don’t Go a Thieving, Robin Hood’s Dance, Sarabande, Captain’s Apprentice, Can y Melinydd, Troseg y Gareg, Sarah Collins, White Gloves, La Russe Waltz, Paris Polka, Queen of the Night. Selected tracks from the LP Hymn to Che Guevara (1974): Belle Star and Jesse James, Twenty Years, Melancholy Pavan, Hymn to Che Guevara, Great Train Robbery, Magpies in Picardy, Little White Donkey, Dancing Lady, Midnight City. 60 minutes playing time. Available as cassette only.

Click here to buy this cassette – The Folk Heritage Recordings

 

Celtic Flamenco

Album cover - Celtic Flamenco
Celtic Flamenco

Michael Raven (Guitar)
Price £1.50 (cassette)
CassMR78 A cassette consisting of tracks taken from CD recordings of flamenco and flamenco-inspired arrangements of British tunes. Tracks are: Troseg y Gareg/Rakes of Mallow/Tanguilio, Chattering Magpie, Lovely on the Water/Hills of Sarajevo, Lichfield Bower Processional, Pavan for a Dead Princess, Willow Rag, Soleares, Black is the Colour, Bolero, Road to Lisdoonvarna/Road to Towyn, Maid of Provence, Spanish Morris 38 minutes playing time.

Click here to buy this cassette – Celtic Flamenco 

 

The Irish In Me

Album Cover - Irish In Me
Irish In Me, Joan Mills with Michael Raven

Irish In Me, Joan Mills with Michael Raven
Michael Raven (guitar)
Joan Mills (vocals)
Price £1.50 (cassette)
CassMR79. Joan’s mother, Margaret “Jeannie” Meehan, came from Ballindrait, Donegal. The contents are: Maid from the Northlands, Errol Flynn, Sally Gardens, The Backwoodsman, Old Dublin Fireman, Johnny Gallagher, Moorlough Shore, Widow Woman’s Daughter, Brink of the White Rock, Star of Belle Isle, Irish Girl, Raglan Road. 46 minutes playing time. Cassette only.

Click here to buy this cassette – Irish in Me

 

Other cassettes, including companion cassettes to books of guitar music are available, please use the contact form if you want more information.

Postage and Packaging

Add £1.50 for postage and packaging for all orders for delivery to UK addresses. For deliveries outside of the UK then please use the contact form to enquire about cost of postage and packaging to your location.

A E Housman

Album cover of A Shorpshire Lad

 

A E HOUSMAN CD & BOOK
A Shropshire Lad: CD £9.99    Book £9
Combined CD and Book package £14
The Recording of ‘A Shropshire Lad’ by Michael Raven and Joan Mills

Sources
The Housman poems are all from A Shropshire Lad, except The Deserter, In Midnights of November and Half Moon which are from Last Poems. All the tunes are traditional, fitted by Michael Raven, except those of The Deserter and Is My Team Ploughing which were composed by Michael Raven. The Welsh tunes are all traditional, arranged for solo guitar by Michael Raven, except Galaru and Rhoslan Reel which were composed by him.

Guitars
The Penrhyn Castle recordings were made using a 1966 Ramirez flamenco guitar. The rest were made with a 1993 steel strung Lowden 032 with an extra wide custom neck (49 mm at the nut), and a Ramirez A1 Classic. The Lowden was played very hard in the folk-blues style called English Folk Guitar, characterised by string slapping, vibrato, chord damping, heavy ornamentation and, above all, a fiercely rhythmic attack. This is especially suitable for performing the ‘wild laments’ such as the Bard’s Dream and Farewell to Llangyfelach, both typical of what scholars believe to be survivals of very ancient pre-Celtic melody. (The Welsh are a predominantly short, dark people of Iberian blood, who adopted the language of the invading tall, fair-haired Celts.)

Printed music
All the songs, accompaniments and guitar solos have been fully notated and published in a companion book also called A Shropshire Lad. The guitar music is printed in both staff notation and tablature. The book measures 9 inches by 12 inches and has 64 pages. It can be obtained from this website.