Giant Donut Discs® – an introduction

24. 8. 2009 | Rubriky: Articles,Giant Donut Discs

[by Ken Hunt and Peter Bellamy: London] In 1986 after one of his concerts the English folksinger Pete Bellamy and I formulated the idea of Giant Donut Discs ®. It came out of a conversation about the wish to create a mutant version of Roy Plomley’s Desert Island Discs BBC radio programme – – for the magazine Swing 51.

Instead of the stranded person coming up with tracks to take to the proverbial desert island, Pete and I wanted something capricious, totally of the moment, something that was ten pieces of music that were filling people’s heads right then and now – not the considered weightiness of someone stranded on the BBC’s desert island.

The principle was first thoughts, best thoughts – the old Beat adage. At the heart of the choices were the moment and passion (however fleeting), perhaps tinged sometimes with a few things packed into the old kit bag. It was a massive success.

Some people explained, some people just gave a list of the here and now. Giant Donut Discs continues in memory of Peter Franklyn Bellamy (8 September 1944-21 September 1991).

To give an idea of how it worked and why it worked, here is an annotated version of Peter Bellamy’s choices from Swing 51 issue 13/14. Peter had a fairly bare-boned approach to the column. And, although I encouraged him to expand on his selections, he never did. Hence the annotations and updates here.

Sidewalk BluesJelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation transcription.

Ken Hunt: From a 1984 Australian Broadcasting Corporation anthology that also included King Oliver & his Dixie Syncopators, Ma Rainey, J.C. Cobb & His Grains of Corn and othersRobert Parker’s now-deleted second volume of jazz classics in ho-ho-ho “digital stereo”. No doubt he encountered it on some Australian tour.

Raglan RoadVan Morrison & The Chieftains

Ken Hunt: From Van Morrison & the Chieftains’ Irish Heartbeat (Exile/Polygram, 1988, reissued 1998).

Wild Man In The CityManu Dibango

He’s a saxophonist from Cameroon. From the LP, O Boso.

Ken Hunt: From Manu Dibango’s O Boso (London Records DL 3006, 1972).

Worried About YouRolling Stones

Ken Hunt: “Sometime I wonder why you do these things to me/Sometime I worry, girl that you ain’t in love with me/Sometime I stay out late, yeah I’m having fun/Yes, I guess you know by now you ain’t the only one.” It would be impossible to say which recording Pete had in mind when he chose this track from Tattoo You (1981). He adored the Stones and took great delight in their, ahem, obscurer recordings.

Drown In My Own TearsRay Charles
– From 1959. Live.

Ken Hunt: Live was new in 1987. Pete liked the sound of good, old gutbucket blues.

The Mountain Streams Where The Moorcock CrowPaddy Tunney

Ken Hunt: Currently available on Paddy Tunney’s Man Of Songs (Folk-Legacy CD-7). From a field recording by Diane Hamilton.

These Memories of YouThe Trio

The Trio being Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.

Ken Hunt: The Trio (1987) was another brand new album when he chose this track. A simply astonishing album, Robert Christgau reviewed it in the July 1987 issue of Playboy saying, “By devoting herself to Nelson Riddle and operetta, Sun City stalwart Linda Ronstadt has made boycotting painless; but her long-promised hookup with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, Trio (Warner), will be hard to resist for those with a weakness for the vocal luxuries of the mainstream record biz. An acoustic-country album meandering from Farther Along and Jimmie Rodgers to Kate McGarrigle and Linda Thompson, Trio is a literally thrilling apotheosis of harmonythree voices that have thrived and triumphed individually engaged in heartfelt cooperation. Free of tits, glitz and syndrums for the first time in a decade, Parton’s penetrating purity dominates the album as it once did country-music history. The only one of the three who’s had the courage of her roots recently, Harris sounds as thoughtful up front as she does in the backup roles that are her forte. And while Ronstadt’s big, plummy contralto will always hint of creamed corn, she’s a luscious side dish in this company.” Review lifted from

Rabbit And LogThe Stanley Brothers

Ken Hunt: The title should have been Rabbit In A Log.

Everybody Needs Somebody To LoveWilson Pickett

Ken Hunt: Pete was no more catholic in his musical tastes than many other singers on the British folk scene. He would descend on record collections at places he was staying and demand fixes of the familiar or the unknown. I can imagine him getting in from a performance or sitting at home making up a cassette compilation and singing along (in accent) to this: “Sometimes I feel, I feel a little sad inside/When my baby mistreats me, I never, never have a place to hide, I need you!”

I Was Born To Preach The GospelWashington Phillips

Ken Hunt: Washington Phillips cut a handful of records in Dallas, Texas over five sessions from 1927 to 1929. The correct title in fact is I Am Born To Preach The Gospel. Most likely, Peter had itor had taped itfrom Songsters & Saints – Vocal Traditions on Race Records Vol. 1 released on the UK Matchbox label in 1984.

The song is currently available on The Key To The Kingdom (Yazoo 2073). There is an excellent discography of Washington Phillips compiled by Stefan Wirz at

(c) 1989, renewed 2009 Swing 51

From that same issue here are mine with annotations and updates:

Don’t Tempt MeRichard Thompson

The opening track from Amnesia. For its astonishing vocal performance.

Ken Hunt: Richard Thompson remains a constant ingredient in any balanced musical diet. Lest we forget.

Pride of CucamongaGrateful Dead

For the tune, the lyrics and John McFee’s pedal steel part.

Company PolicyMartin Carthy

It may be another song about the Falklands but it taps into the human element superbly. From the long overdue Right of Passage.

Ken Hunt: It had been some while since Martin Carthy had made a solo album.

The 1982 Falklands businessalso known as the Guerra de las Malvinaswas still preying hard on people’s minds. Martin Carthy’s song about the “company store” was one of the great songs, like John B. Spencer’s Acceptable Losses (reissued on Three-Score-And-Ten (TOPIC70, 2009)), that came out of the war.

Eight Miles HighThe Byrds

From Never Before. A tenser, rawer reading than the Fifth Dimension cut.

Ken Hunt: The Byrds were and remain a continual reference point.

Devil’s Right HandWebb Wilder & The Beatnecks

A fabulous song by Steve Earle that Peter Case introduced to me in a private moment. For the opportunity to namedrop too.

Me And Billy The KidJoe Ely

For its lyrics. Love the line about shooting their mutual girlfriend’s chihuahua.

CalvaryThe Alabama State Sacred Harp Convention

From the 1960 album White Spirituals, the fourth volume in Atlantic’s Southern Folk Heritage series. A hymn as mighty as the ocean. “My thoughts that often mount the skies/Go, search the world beneath/Where nature all in ruins lies/And owns her sovereign – Death!”

Ken Hunt: This was an introduction by Gill Cook from Collet’swhose obituary I later wrote. A very good friend and a source of inspiration and solidarity.

My obituary of Gill Cook from The Independent:

Tony Russell’s from The Guardian:

The King of RomeJune Tabor

For its triumph over adversity.

Ken Hunt: Nearly two decades on, I did the song-by-song interviews and wrote the booklet notes to June’s career retrospective Always (Topic Records TSFCD4003, 2005)on which this also appears.

Even A Dog Can Shake HandsWarren Zevon

For anybody who has ever been fleeced and has considered taking somebody to the Small Claims Court. From the strangely titled Sentimental Hygiene.

Ken Hunt: The magazine was going through a hard time financially and though various people rallied round and helped fund issue 13/14, the losses of the previous years I had absorbed proved too much to sustain and survive. The magazine went under. (The cumulative amount owed by companies that had defaulted on payment or themselves went under would have paid for another issue.) That was the background to choosing this remarkable track. RIP Warren William Zevon (24 January 1947-7 September 2003).

PharaohRichard Thompson

The closing track from Amnesia. For its lyrics.

Ken Hunt: See Don’t Tempt Me above.

(c) 1989, renewed 2009 Swing 51

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