Gentle Men

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Gentle Men
Studio album by Roy Bailey, Vera Coomans, Robb Johnson, Koen De Cauter and the Golden Serenaders
Released 1997
Recorded 27–29 August 1997
Genre Folk
Length tbc
Label Irregular Records
Producer Piet Chielens
Robb Johnson chronology
Invisible People
(1997) String Module Error: Match not found1997
Gentle Men
(1997) String Module Error: Match not found1997
Yeah Yeah Yeah: So Far So Good 1991-1998
(1998) String Module Error: Match not found1998

Gentle Men is an album released in 1997 by English folk singers Roy Bailey and Robb Johnson in collaboration with Belgian singer Vera Coomans and Belgian jazz band Koen De Cauter and the Golden Serenaders. The album takes the form of a song cycle inspired by the experiences of Johnson's grandfathers during the First World War, and was released as part of the Vredesconcerten Passendale (Paschendale Peace Concerts) series.


Johnson based the songs on the album around the experiences of his two grandfathers at the Ypres Salient in 1917 and used official histories and family memories in his research.[1][2] According to the album's sleevenotes, Johnson's paternal grandfather, Ernest Isaac Johnson, was an apprentice glassblower and amateur musician, who served as a bandsman in the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1915 until the conclusion of the war in 1918. His maternal grandfather, Henry Robert Jenner, enlisted despite being underage and served with the Post Office Rifles. When his true age was discovered, he was allocated duties away from the frontline, but was eventually sent back to the trenches. Despite being affected by a mustard gas attack, he also survived the war.


According to the sleevenotes, Bailey, Johnson and Coomans all contribute lead vocals, and Johnson also plays guitar and whistle. Koen De Cauter plays saxophone, guitar and clarinet, and the Golden Serenaders band also includes Hendrik Braeckman on guitar, Dajo De Cauter on double bass, Myrdhin De Cauter on clarinet, Jan De Coninck on trumpet, Philip Hoessen on accordion and Willy Seeuws on drums. Piet Chielens produced the album, which was recorded and mixed by Rudy Dekeyzer. All songs were written by Johnson and arranged by De Cauter and his band.


Folk music magazine The Living Tradition described the songs as "emotive, thought provoking and carry[ing] great depth and weight."[3] Allmusic described the songs as "moving" and stated that it was one of the best albums of Johnson's career.[4] Mojo named the album Folk Album of the Month, and The Daily Telegraph chose it as Folk Album of the Year.[5]

Track listing[edit]

Roy Bailey
Robb Johnson

Disc One[edit]

# Title Vocalist Length
1 Grandfathers Johnson 2:35
2 A Gentleman Always Wants Horses Bailey 4:35
3 Three Brothers Bailey 3:48
4 And Then the Trumpet Sounded Coomans 2:46
5 Deeper Than Dugouts Coomans 3:57
6 R.S.M. Schofield Is My Shepherd Bailey 3:38
7 I Played for Kitchener Johnson 2:23
8 At the Mercy of the Guns Bailey 2:52
9 A Garden Coomans 3:08
10 Bloody Medals Bailey 3:48
11 Soldier On Bailey 2:40
12 Empty Chair Coomans 2:56

Disc Two[edit]

# Title Vocalist Length
1 Noni and His Golden Serenaders Johnson 4:10
2 The Boy of My Dreams Coomans 2:32
3 When Harry Took Me to See Ypres Coomans 3:56
4 Sweet Dreams Bailey 3:29
5 The Silence of the Salient Johnson 4:31
6 Whistle Bailey 3:18
7 The Music from Between the Wars Bailey 4:57
8 Nobody's Enemy Johnson 4:17
9 The German Exchange Johnson 3:14
10 Hindsight Bailey 1:58
11 Dead Man's Pennies Coomans 4:13
12 Candles in the Rain Johnson 2:55
13 Making the Gardens Grow Johnson 3:51

In 2000 Johnson performed the songs from the album at a Remembrance Day concert in Worcester with a band which included Russell Churney.[2] He also re-recorded the song "When Harry Took Me To See Ypres", providing the lead vocals himself, on his 2005 album A Beginner's Guide.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Broughton, Simon; Mark Ellingham; Richard Trillo (1999). World Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 29. ISBN 1-85828-635-2. 
  2. ^ a b "Tribute to a grandfather". Worcestershire, West Midlands, Herefordshire, and Shropshire Counties Publications. 10 November 2000. Retrieved 14 November 2008. 
  3. ^ Living Tradition review
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Popular folk singer at the Oak". Wiltshire County Publications. 23 January 2004. Retrieved 14 November 2008.