Holyground Records - one of the most collectable labels in the world


Here you can find the show notes for the Holyground Records podcast, which you can download from Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The podcast series covers the history of Holyground from 1963 until Mike Levon died in 2011.

These are in the form of informal conversations between Shirley Levon, Mike's wife, and Pete Taylor who played and recorded with Mike for many years. Two bonus podcasts are also available.

Recording by Pete Taylor.

Podcasts and notes are copyright Pete Taylor and Holyground Records 2024

Episode 1: Early recording at Bretton Hall, 1963- 1966.

The background to recordings that Mike Levon made at Bretton Hall. These were mainly folk-based, but also included some original tracks. Three 7 inch vinyl records were produced and one 12 inch.

Tracks played:
'Lowlands' - Jenny Tarren
'Wild Mountain Thyme' - Dave Nuttall and others
'Babe Don't Drag Me down' - Bob Hart

Listen to episode 1 | Episode 1 Show Notes

Episode 2: 'No 9 Bread Street', recording at Moodies Bar, 1967.

A 12 inch album was recorded at Moodies Bar, where many students met at the regular folk club. 'No 9 Bread Street', a mixture of folk songs and original material, was the first record to be released on the Holyground label, which was established in this period.

Tracks played:
'Travelling People' - Kev Slater
'Beautiful Strangers - Jane Westlake
'Stroke Two' - Chris Coombs
'College Girl' - Piers Johnson

Listen to episode 2 | Episode 2 Show Notes

Episode 3: 'Holyground' at 5 Cass Yard, Wakefield, 1967-1970.

Holyground was established at 5 Cass Yard, with a bedroom used as a studio. Brian Calvert, and Chris Coombs were involved as song-writers, and Dave Wood with art work and liaising with bands. Mike was writing lyrics and experimenting with production techniques. A-Austr was released as a concept album

Tracks played:
Grail Search - Chris Coombs
Essex Queen - Brian Calvert
It's Alright, What did you go - jam session

Listen to episode 3 | Episode 3 Show Notes

Episode 4: 'Astral Navigations' released, 1971.

Mike and Brian Calvert's songs are on the first side of this album with songs by Chris Coombs. The second side is 'Thundermother', an established rock group from Preston. The album came with a booklet and poster designed by Dave Wood.

Tracks played:
Fourth Coming - Brian Calvert
Tomorrow Buffalo - Chris Coombs
Someday - Thundermother
Windows of Limited Time/Astral Navigator - Brian Calvert

Listen to episode 4 | Episode 4 Show Notes

Episode 5: 'Jumble Lane' released, and recording Bill Nelson with Global Village, 1969-1971.

'Jumble Lane' was released, recorded by Bretton students. Bill Nelson with Global Village were recording regularly and 'Northern Dream' was released. Holyground's reputation grew and many bands paid to record. Part of another Holyground album 'Gagalactyca' was recorded.

Tracks played:
'Preserve' and 'Blues for Joanne' from 'Jumble Lane'
Keep Your Feathers Fine - Bill Nelson
Cold, Tired and Hungry - Chris Coombs and Bill Nelson

Listen to episode 5 | Episode 5 Show Notes

Episode 6: 'Legend of the Kingfisher' by Gygafo and 'Ode' by Blue Epitaph recorded 1972-1974.

'Legend of the Kingfisher' was recorded by Gygafo, a well-known Leeds-based band, memories of recording by band member Eddie Stringer. 'Ode' by Blue Epitaph, was recorded and released, memories of recording it by Pete Howells and Jim Gordon. Mike was experimenting with effects, including a new phaser.

Tracks played:
'Solid Man Song' and 'Waiting for the Rain' - Gygafo
'I Never met You' and 'Diane' - Blue Epitaph

Listen to episode 6 | Episode 6 Show Notes

Episode 7: The last days of the studio at Cass Yard. 'Tears on the Console' by Steve Channing and Lazy Days released. 1975.

Mike was recording Lazy Days, a Leeds-based band and continuing to record Steve Channing. They collaborated for a new album 'Tears on the Console'. Mike moved out of Cass Yard, and joined a group of independent producers at Aim Studio in Doncaster for a short time.

Tracks played:
'Wait for Me' - Lazy Days
'Tears on the Console', snatch of 'Play it Like a Band', 'Peach of a Love' - Steve Channing and Lazy Days

Listen to episode 7 | Episode 7 Show Notes

Episode 8: Holyground revived and the re-releases, 1988 onward.

The collectability of Holyground records led to many albums being re-released, first as vinyl then as CDs, at first licensed through Magic Mixture, then through Kissing Spell. New music was being recorded with Pete Taylor, Chris Coombs and Steve Channing. Loose Routes CDs were released.

Tracks played:
snatch of 'Tears on the Console',
'Save the Big Jam Roll', from Gagalactyca
'Snowcloud' - Skybird,
'Alice D's Electric Outlaw Band' - Lazy Days

Listen to episode 8 | Episode 8 Show Notes

Episode 9: & Strangeness and Charm released, part one. 1999 and 2006.

Mike, Chris Coombs and Pete Taylor were collaborating on writing new songs, based on ancestry and where you come from and on Time. Mike was investing in new equipment, and using Midi. Other musicians, including classical musicians were involved.

Tracks played:
'The Hiding Places'
'Desperate Manoeuvres'
'Silence on the Wires'

Listen to episode 9 | Episode 9 Show Notes

Episode 10: & Strangeness and Charm released, part two '67 Skies', 1999 and 2006.

The 1999 release was a limited edition with a poster with words and credits. The 2006 release was with a booklet instead of poster. '67 Skies' is nearly 20 minutes long. It reflects personal memories, the past, the present and the future and possibility of change.
Track played:
'67 Skies'

Listen to episode 10 | Episode 10 Show Notes

Episode 11: New releases from Holyground, 2000-2005.

A new control room was built enabling a permanent set-up for the equipment. A retrospective series of CDs were released called 'The Works' including 'Electrotype', Bill Nelson's early recordings. Chris Coombs' 'Up to McGills' CD was released as a singer-songwriter album. 'Joint' was released featuring many musician friends of Holyground over the years.

Tracks played:
'Nothing Rhymes with Lonely' - Chris Coombs
'Heart of the Storm' - Steve Channing

Listen to episode 11 | Episode 11 Show Notes

Episode 12: The Last Goodbye to Bretton Hall 2007.

When Bretton Hall finally closed its doors in 2007 it was felt that the past association with students should be celebrated. A concert in Music Block was arranged on the 5th May, the final weekend, with musicians coming across the world to take part in a Holyground concert. A CD and DVD of the event was released.

Tracks played:
Kirkgate Blues - Mike Levon, Chris Coombs, Pete Taylor
The Shipper - Dave Holland
Ode - Pete Howells, Jim Gordon
Wild Mountain Thyme - Jenny Tarren, Jan Williams and audience.

Listen to episode 12 | Episode 12 Show Notes

Episode 13: The Legacy of Holyground 2007-2011.

Following the Bretton concert Chris Coombs, Pete Taylor, Nick Dew and Margaret Duke rehearsed to play live as 'Quizzing Glass'. Mike started to write new lyrics with Pete Howells of 'Blue Epitaph' writing the music. Mike, Chris and Pete continued to work on a new album to be called 'In and Out of Time' which was nearly completed before Mike's untimely death in 2011. Sadly the tracks could not be rescued.

Tracks played:
'Driving into the Wind' - Quizzing Glass
'Barkston Heath' - Mike Levon and Pete Howells
'Same Land'
'Best Foot Shoes'

Listen to episode 13 | Episode 13 Show Notes

Bonus: Brian Calvert talking about his memories of recording at Holyground in 2022.

Listen to bonus episode 1

Bonus: Andy Philpott interviewing Mike Levon about Holyground in 2006.

Listen to bonus episode 2

Studio equipment

Equipment and recording techniques from 1963 - 2011

List of recording equipment