Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner

The Music From Bagpuss

Image of Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner - The Music From BagpussImage of Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner - The Music From Bagpuss
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Record Label
Earth Recordings

About this item

Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss

Old fat furry cat-puss

Wake up and look at this thing that I bring

Wake up, be bright

Be golden and light

Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing

12th of February, 1974, and for an audience of small children at 1:45pm, a life irrevocably coloured by the wayward wonderings of one saggy cloth cat. Some 44 years later and Earth Recordings opens the door to Bagpuss & Co. once again, revealing for the first time the original music in all its newly-mastered splendour.

The 32 tracks that make up the main body of the compositions are – like all good folk music – a patchwork of traditional pieces, half-remembered tunes and pure improvisation. It's testament to Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner's musicianship that the recordings work so well, not only within the context of the television episodes, but as an album in its own right. Of the recording, Oliver Postgate (in his exquisite autobiography 'Seeing Things') says: "Between them Sandra and John could play every sort of instrument from a mountain dulcimer to an Irish fiddle. They knew and could sing every tune in the world and didn't bother with written music, except as a last resort. They were exactly suited to Gabriel the Toad and Madeleine the Rag Doll and in those roles were happy to play whatever music and sing whatever songs would be needed."

Those songs manifested themselves as reworkings of familiar tunes ('I Saw A Ship'; 'Row Your Boat'; 'Bucket's Burning'), takes on traditional ballads ('Brian O'Lynn'; 'The Frog Princess'; 'Weaving Song'; 'The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket') and delicious flights of fancy ('The Bony King of Nowhere'; 'Turtle Calypso'; 'Uncle Feedle'). The counterpart to Madeleine and Gabriel's more polished ditties are the interludes from the mice; a raggle-taggle chorus that accompanies the creatures' efforts of help (with the mice once famously going on strike when they were not permitted sang as they worked). Again, Postgate muses: "Once I had worked out a few episodes I would make a very rough list of the bits where I though music would be appropriate. I would send it to [Sandra and John] to think about. Then we would borrow a fairly silent room in a remote house and, taking the various articles that we intended to celebrate with us, would spend a happy day with a tape recorder, thinking up and recording whatever songs and tunes came to mind."

The outtakes provide an intimate – and often very humourous – insight into the trio's work ethic, if it can be called such a thing. (By all accounts they sound as though they're having a very jolly time indeed.) Highlights include alternative opening words and end music, as well as Postgate sound-checking in character as Bagpuss. This never-before heard audio provides a real treat for fans (and indeed those new to the Smallfilms stable) – affirmation again to the enduring quality of these special recordings, and the beloved programme that inspired them.

"An accidental classic of the folk-roots underground that we never dared hope we’d hear with such clarity." -Stewart Lee.

And so their work was done.


1 Opening
2 We Will Wash It
3 I Saw A Ship
4 We Will Rub It
5 The Bony King Of Nowhere
6 Cat And Bird Tone Phone
7 Princess Suite
8 The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe
9 Row The Boat
10 We Will Lace It
11 Ballerina Music Box
12 Porcupine Song
13 Here's A Pin
14 We Will Fix It
15 Turtle Calypso
16 The Elephant's Fable
17 The Miller's Song
18 We Will Find It
19 The Town Band
20 Song Of The Flea
21 We Will Do It (Undo It)
22 The Weaving Song
23 Charliemouse Weaving
24 Bucket's Burning
25 Brian O'Lynn
26 Lullaby For Cabbages
27 We Will Do It (Go Through It)
28 The Old Woman Tossed Up In A Basket
29 Mouse Ragtime
30 We Will Fold It
31Uncle Feedle
32 Closing
33 Opening Words (Outtake)
34 Introducing The Characters (Outtake)
35 Characters Waking Up (Outtake)
36 Bagpuss Soundcheck
37 I Saw A Ship A-Sailing (Alternate Version)
38 Mermaid Song
39 Captain Bagpuss Poem
40 Owls Of Athens Story
41 Birdsong
42 Princess Suite (Outtake)
43 The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe (Outtake)
44 Porcupine Song (Outtake)
45 Bagpipes
46 Brian O'Lynn (Outtake )
47 Agricultural Jig
48 Percy Pratt Poem
49 End Music (Outtake) 

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