The Album


Ray Randall ©

“Polly Swallow”  by  Ray Randall : CD002


A unique album of songs that draws on the romance and extraordinary beauty of the historic town of Whitby, North Yorkshire and is constantly driven by the power and imagery of the fisher-girl Polly Swallow - as realised by that foremost of Victorian photographers Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.


Ray first saw Polly Swallow as an un-framed sepia print in a friend’s home in Southend in November 1995.  Like many before and since he was struck immediately by the sense of presence sustained by the photograph and, in direct response, words and melodies seemed only too ready to crystallise. 

Further investigation and research led Ray inevitably to Whitby, all the while continuing writing songs in a

creative surge;  Eighteen Eighty Nine, Pretty Little Thing, the anthem-like Whitby Town, the delicate and

sympathetic Shalamar.


Ray’s pedigree in the music business is well known.  After being a member of the groundbreaking Tornados (1963-66) and backing member to Billy Fury he pursued a successful business career in and around London throughout the 70s & 80s.  Founder of Roadant Records, he has now moved to Whitby to concentrate on his songwriting and develop new projects.


The transition to singing and writing marked by this current project was helped to fruition by Whitby-based

musicians of unrivalled stature Charles O’Connor of Horslips and Paul Whittaker, co-producers of the

album.  Two instrumental compositions by Charles form beautiful punctuation pieces to the song cycle, and the arrangements and musical variations evident throughout the album, the sophistication, inventiveness and clarity of the recording and engineering, all bear testimony to close working relationships and understanding. 

Chris Parkinson of the House Band, also living locally, provides his usual extra colour and flourish with some perceptive and expressive Melodeon & Accordion playing.


That the whole project was brought to completion in less than a year is remarkable.

Even after repeated listening there is a depth and quality evident throughout the lyrics and arrangements. 

Simple but un-simplistic, the whole ensemble speaks with an eloquence, sensitivity and humour not to be found in many albums from mainstream artists and studios.


Polly Swallow is a wonderful achievement. 

Ray Randall has found a new direction and new energy... a new spirit in his life and work, perhaps; long may it continue.