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Friday 21 August 2009

Elizabeth Barraclough

Over the last week or so I have been having a bit of a blitz converting various bits of vinyl I've acquired recently into mp3 format. One of them is the 1978 self-titled LP by Elizabeth Barraclough, which I acquired for £1 in the Oxfam shop in Crouch End a couple of months ago.

I had never previously heard of Elizabeth, and bought the album mainly on the basis of the supporting cast. It was released on Bearsville Records so naturally involves Todd Rundgren, but others include The Band's producer John Simon, harmonica legend Paul Butterfield and crack Nashville session players like Charlie McCoy and Kenny Buttrey. It was produced by Albert Grossman, Dylan's former manager and owner of Bearsville, with sleeve notes by Jim Rooney, who went on to produce Nanci Griffith and others. It also has one of the most unflattering photos imaginable on the front cover - it makes her look like a grumpy trucker.

I have not been able to find out much about Elizabeth on the Internet. It appears she was hanging around in Woodstock at the time, which might explain where she met some of these characters, and was dating Paul Butterfield. She went on to record a second album on Bearsville that was produced by Willie Mitchell in Memphis, which sounds worth tracking down. I assume she is English on the basis of her voice, her very English surname and because there is a track on the album called "Shepherd's Bush" (for our international readers, that is a district of London) - but I may be wrong. If anyone knows more, please let me know.

It is hardly an essential album but it is not bad - a nice mix of blues, country, a little bit of soul and some typical 1970s singer-songwriter stuff. For me, the two stand out tracks are "Covered Up In Aces" and "Like The Desert Needs The Sand". Apologies for the slightly ropey sound quality.

Slightly to my surprise I managed to find a clip on YouTube of her performing "Covered Up In Aces". Even more to my surprise, she looks nothing at all like a grumpy trucker. Here she is:


  1. Elizabeth is not British, she's quite American. She's my cousin after all, on my father's side. Growing up she dreamed of being a singer and songwriter and always played for us whenever we'd listen. Haven't heard from her in years, not sure what she's been up to. Her parent's both died a few years back. Mother Mary, and father Barry. She has a brother, Bruce, who I think is still alive somewhere. Anyway, maybe that will help you clear up who she is. If you'd like to know more, feel free to write to me at

  2. Her best song is "Who do you thinks the fool" Ultra political.

  3. She was a classmate of mine and a beautiful, outspoken musician who has one heck of a personality. She is much adimired by those who knew her, and those of us who were not really in her circle.

  4. i loved that bearsville album. one side was kinna country sounding tunes like "covered up in aces " and the other side had songs like "shepperds bush" which are very edgy for the time, and very much not like anything else being done at the time. i had the album but have lost it over the years...

    fascinating listen, i recommend.

  5. Wow, have just come across the youtube video and it brought me back so many years. I absolutely love this song and several others she recorded back in 1978 on her debut LP. I've wondered for years whatever happened to her and I'd love to know what she's doing now, whatever it is. Please can someone put me out of my misery !

  6. I can't help, I'm afraid. In fact almost all I know about her came from comments on this post. I contacted her cousin Sam - see the first comment - who has lost touch with her but had this to say:

    "It was fun finding someone out there that is still interested in Elizabeth's music. It's funny calling her that, we always called her E.A.

    Anyway, I always thought she'd make it in a bigger way in the industry, but I guess she kind of came between genres or something. Anyway, not sure what she's been doing these last bunch of years, since I've not heard from anyone on that side of the family in quite a while.

    You could try sending her brother an e-mail. He's a space scientist now or something and if you google Bruce Barraclough, his name is all over the place (He's the one that works at JPL). He could probably hook you up with Elizabeth directly."

    Sam has obviously underestimated the continuing interest in Elizabeth's (sorry, E.A's) music. If anyone wants me to re-post these tracks, and maybe one or two more, send me an e-mail and I'll do it.

  7. I've tried e-mailing Bruce but without reply so if anyone else can help I'd be really grateful. Thanks.

  8. still have a copy of that very good shape, even though I have played it forever...It is one of my all-time favorites....miss her

  9. Great find. And I love the guy with the Dictators baseball jersey at 2:56 of the video.

  10. Don't you TV me !
    Don't you sony color TV me.

    I got to know her as Todd produced her record (being a TR Fan) and I loved her music. I have put her records on CD and play it in my car all the time...

  11. Hi folks.
    I continue to play that album in my radio show in italy and everybody ask me for her----
    It's one of the best album i have in my collection..Any news about her is welcome in

    Sincerly friendly Piero

  12. Thanks for all the information. I myself bought the album in my hometown Amsterdam ( The Netherlands) and I an hooked to it since.
    My venyl is rotten so I look out for the CD version ??
    Can I expect one? Or will it stay the good memory.

  13. I don't know about physical CDs, but I have discovered you can download the album for $10 from CDUniverse:

    I may well be doing that myself.

  14. Ernie, That is great! But for me too much dollars.
    I have made my version already in mp3, buy the quality is very BAD because of my rotten venyl ... ;)
    Do you know thios powerfull lady is sound and healthy, or is it "sex drugs and R&R"?

    You know I wonder obout that.

    Grretings to all fans - all over the world, here from The Ntherlands.


  15. All her songs are great.
    And she is great.

    I really like to remember my stay at her and Pauls house in Woodstock - riding the old Firefox.


  16. She is now back home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. She is a Speech Language Pathologist. She worked in Hollywood for around 10 years in the film industry after her recording career. Her brother (Bruce) has been working as a Geophysicist (I believe) at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

  17. She also is a great photographer, and is on facebook.

  18. I always felt that "Covered up in Aces" had an unfinished feel to it. Its as if she hit upon the tag line and for the sake of preserving the musical inertia repeated it with the intention of later adding some variation to the chorus. Though as time went on she stuck with the repetition. In the above clip she hits the refrain 3 times before the solo, (with no preceeding bridge), and hits it again immediately after the solo . Whew ! We got it - you are covered up in aces. And we aren't even at the end yet. Of course this was a very Dynalesque thing to do but what worked for him might didn't necessarily work for others. By 1978 the folk song songwriting rules were a bit long in the tooth. I'm convinced that had this song been tightened up it would been a bigger hit.


  20. I just had a dream about her this morning, seeing her up on stage - so delighted. I have been wondering for so long what happened to her. I was living in Woodstock when she was there recording her first few albums. Knew her well, played tennis with her. Loved that little blue VW bug she drove around. Hung out at Albert's with her - all the local joints. Knew Paul B too. I knew Eddie Offord well who Albert brought over from London to be the recording engineer. Interesting time. Interesting tiny note...there is a little red rose on the back of her first album cover that I drew... If you see say hello!

  21. This is one of those treasures that makes the internet such a wonderful resource. Paul Butterfield was, and is, one of my musical heroes, and I can barely believe I only "discovered" the remarkable Elizabeth Barraclough here, many decades after those two knew each other.