Dick Gaughan

Outlaws And DreamersTønder Festival 2009
No Gods And Precious Few HeroesSail On
Tom Paine's BonesOutlaws & Dreamers
Willie O' WinsburyGaughan
The Thrush In The Storm / Flogging ReelCoppers & Brass
A Different Kind Of Love SongA Different Kind of Love Song
Ruby TuesdaySail On
Sail OnSail On
The Father's SongA Different Kind of Love Song
The Teatotaller / Da TushkerNo More Forever




Contributor: Ian Ashleigh

I first came across Dick Gaughan in 1983 when I borrowed a copy of A Different Kind Of Love Song from Brent Town Hall Library, Wembley. I was struck by his voice and that he sang with a Scottish accent when you still heard most chart songs by UK bands sung with a ‘mid-Atlantic’ accent. He was a member of The Boys of the Lough and Five Hand Reel as well as recording as a solo perfomer.

I also acknowledge Dick Gaughan for the track notes on his fantastically informative website which have informed my comments and from which I have occasionally copied and pasted.

I revisited Dick Gaughan’s work in the last year or so and found so much more depth than I remembered. This was partly inspired by the CD of the Tønder Festival 2009 (a Danish music festival) from which my first selection comes. I thought I should start with one of Gaughan’s own compositions; Outlaws & Dreamers is the title track of the 2001 album. I listened to the album version and the live version back to back before I chose the live one.

No Gods And Precious Few Heroes is an anti-war song written by Brian McNeill.

Tom Paine (1737–1809) wrote the Rights of Man and has a fine ale dedicated to him by the Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes, Sussex where he lived. Tom Paine’s Bones is a fine song written by Graham Moore and from the Outlaws & Dreamers album.

There are so many versions of Willie O’Winsbury but this one sung in accent and dialect feels authentic. Trad arr Gaughan sits well after a number of tracks.

Dick Gaughan has recorded a number of jigs and reels down the years and this showcases his guitar playing skills. I include The Thrush In The Storm/The Flogging Reel for no other reason than I like it.

A Different Kind Of Love Song is one of Dick Gaughan’s own compositions and this comes straight from his own website: “One night in 1982, I had just finished playing in a folk club somewhere in the south east of England when a woman came up to me and proceeded to ask me all the questions in the first verse of this. When I replied, she looked at me sadly and said, ‘Oh, you’re still at the political stage, then’, and walked off. When I had stopped laughing I wrote this.”

Ruby Tuesday was written by that well know folk duo, Mick Jagger and Keith Richard. This has to be one of the best cover versions of any Rolling Stones song ever. For Sail On, I again quote Dick Gaughan’s own words for his own song. “There are a lot of images in this song. My father used to sing the song, Sail Away Ladies with the wonderful line ‘ain’t no use in sitting crying, sail away ladies, sail away’ and I grew up in Leith so the sound and smell of docks, sea and ships have been a natural part of my life since infancy.”

The Father’s Song is another anti-war song written by Ewan MacColl and explores a father’s view of his son going off to war.

We end with a track from Gaughan’s first album and another set of tunes. The website notes The Teatotaller (Trad. arr. Gaughan) / Da Tushker (Ronnie Cooper). “The first is one of those tunes common to both the Irish and Scots; the second was written by the Shetland musician/composer Ronnie Cooper and I learned it from Aly Bain. The guitar was tuned in the standard EADGBE tuning.”

This is a small example of Dick Gaughan’s range showcased on his double CD compilation Prentice Piece which was released in 2002.


Dick Gaughan’s website

Dick Gaughan biography (iTunes)

After Dick Gaughan left first The Boys of the Lough and then Five Hand Reel, both groups went on to make a number of albums in the 70s and beyond, with the great fiddler Aly Bain staying with The Boys for over 30 years. Topperposts anyone?

TopperPost #93


  1. Colin Duncan
    Oct 10, 2013

    I’ve been lucky to have seen Dick Gaughan a few times over the years. Great and sensitive feeling in his singing and great guitar playing. ‘Games People Play’, ‘Both Sides The Tweed’, and ‘Flooers o the Forest’ would be pushing the excellent songs on the list.

    • Ian Ashleigh
      Oct 11, 2013

      Many thanks for your comments Colin. All three of your choices were on my final ‘shortlist’ and I opted for Ruby Tuesday rather than Games People Play and Willie O’Winsbury not Flooers o the Forest.

  2. Andrew Shields
    Jan 24, 2014

    Great list and Gaughan is such a brilliant guitarist as well as a great singer… ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ and ‘Now Westlin Winds’ are personal favourites..

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