Track Record

Track Record: Kate Rusby



British folk star Kate Rusby’s latest solo album “Hand Me Down” is a blissful collection of covers – but this time, not traditional folk songs. Modern pop hits reinterpreted the Rusby way.

The Prince-penned, Bangles classic “Manic Monday” is glorious and got BBC Radio 2 spins as a single.  See the fabulously fun home-made ‘lockdown’ video below, which features Kate’s young daughters as her mini Bangles backing singers.

Kate was 12 when this first came out. Susanna Hoffs, lead singer of the Bangles, has recently contacted Kate to tell her she loved this new version. Two more singles taken from the album have made an impact,  The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” and Taylor Swift’s pop smash “Shake It Off”.

The Barnsley girl’s natural Yorkshire accent is in tact throughout, and the dozen tracks are a triumph.

The idea began a few years ago when Kate was rehearsing for the Jo Whiley BBC Radio 2 show. Jo invites guests to sing a cover of their choosing, plus their own material. Kate covered the Oasis song “Don’t Go Away”.

It dawned on Kate back with the Jo Whiley covers, that as a folk singer she was used to re-interpreting existing songs, but usually much older songs. Songs handed down through generations. So, re-interpreting newer songs and songs from the non-folk world was not a big stretch.

She put the Oasis cover “Don’t Go Away” on her 2019 album, “Philosophers, Poets & Kings”, and played it live on tour. The reaction was strong. So, she decided on a whole album of covers.

Made at her South Yorkshire home studio during lockdown, with husband, multi-instrumentalist Damien O’Kane engineering and playing most of the instruments, plus the odd part from a band member recorded remotely.

Her kids Daisy Delia who is 10 and eight-year-old Phoebe Summer get in on the act, acting as Kate’s very own mini Bangles on the backing vocals for “Manic Monday”, and on the last track, “Three Little Birds” (See Kate’s “Track Record” below, for the lovely backstory to this Rusby family favourite Bob Marley song).

Kate also reveals, shock, horror…..she has never sung karaoke in her life!!!! That has got to be the next family video for YouTube, surely? But not “I Will Survive”, please!

Kate has released 17 solo studio albums in the last 23 years. The debut was “Hourglass” in 1997. There’s also a bunch of collaborative appearances, a stack of tracks on compilations, a handful of Christmas albums, a slew of singles and an EP.

You can read our 5 Star review of Kate’s new album, “Hand Me Down” – which is released this Friday (14th August 2020) – in our “Reviews Zone”….

  • STOP PRESS: As we predicted in our review written and published on 9th August 2020, some six days before the album was released and some 13 days before today’s Official UK Album Chart was issued (21st August),  “Hand Me Down” has achieved a higher chart position than the # 22 spot she landed back in 2012. Today it is straight in at # 12, her highest chart position from 17 albums across a 23-year recording career. Congratulations Kate and team. Well deserved.


Kate’s “Track Record” Q&A is below….

Kate, Damien and daughters Daisy Delia and Phoebe Summer in the Manic Monday video…


  1. First song you can remember hearing as a child? An old folk song called The Recruited Collier. My parents both sing and play so we had music galore in our house. It’s the first song I can remember learning, so it’s the one I always remember from childhood.

2. First single that you owned?

Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi. It’s the first single I bought with my pocket money.

3. First LP/album that you owned?

Penguin Eggs by Nic Jones. I suppose it was my parents’ LP, but I was the one who played it the most, so in my head it was mine-all-mine!

4. First CD that you owned?

7800° Fahrenheit by Bon Jovi. I ordered it from a tiny record store in Barnsley called Casa Disco. Each week I would catch the bus into town (then only 2p for under 16s to travel anywhere in South Yorkshire), go to Casa Disco and pay off a little more with my pocket money. Then catch the bus home again. It was a magical moment the day I took the CD home with me – A very excited, happy girl!

5. Last music you bought and in what format (CD/vinyl/digital download)?

I downloaded Folklore by Taylor Swift. I always pay for music, as it’s important for the music industry to be able to afford to nurture new talent. I heard a few tracks on the Jo Whiley BBC Radio 2 show and loved it, so I bought it.

6. Which album would be on your wish list as a birthday or Christmas gift?

A Best of The 80s album. I’ve been listening a lot to old albums from the 80s, as research for my new ‘Hand Me Down’ album. I forgot how many brilliant songs there were. I’ve been loving the retro sounds.

7. Absolute favourite ever album?

Banjophony by Damien O’Kane and Ron Block. It’s pure sunshine on a disc!!


8. Best record ever made (can be single/album/EP)?

Everglow by Coldplay. It’s like an uninterrupted, perfect starry sky. So luminous and crushingly beautiful.

9. Guilty secret in your music collection?

The Birdie Song: The Tweets. But come on…who doesn’t get up and dance to that song? It’s an instant trip back in time to childhood!!

10. What does music mean to you and how does it make you feel?

Music is food. We, as humans, need it to survive. It’s comfort, it’s heart breaking, heart mending, soul soothing, life affirming, happiness inducing, memory making, memory recalling stuff. If only the doctors could bottle it!

11. What one song or album is a guaranteed mood booster?

Banjophony by Damien O’Kane and Ron Block. I said it earlier, it’s sunshine on a disc and guaranteed smiles!

12. Which song or album would be the soundtrack to a film about your life?

Love Of The Common People sung by Paul Young. It reflects my childhood. We had free school meals and free uniforms etc. I was a child through the miners’ strike too, so there was a lot of hardship all around. But oh my goodness, so much love!

13. Your favourite driving track – or music to exercise-to?

Beauty Mark by Rufus Wainwright. It’s cheeky, perky and oh so cool!

14. Best song or album for a romantic moment?

Hvarf/Heim by Sigur RÓs. Epic, cinematic beauty.

15. Which song did you have played for the “First Dance” at your wedding (if married) or which song would you choose if you did get married?

Fix You by Coldplay. Happy, happy memories are attached to that song.

16. Your choice of song to sing at karaoke?

I’ve never actually ever done proper karaoke! I must be missing out on something.

17. Which song takes you back to your childhood – and to which specific memory?

Among The Leaves So Green O’. It’s a call and answer song that my parents would sing to us. They sang the call (the lead) and us kids would sing the answer. We had many long car journeys as kids, and this would be sung countless times at the top of our voices. I’ve already passed it on to my daughters!

18. All-time favourite band?

Chain Smokers. They are the most played in our house, usually while we cook.

19. All-time favourite singer?

That’s way too hard to answer. If you threatened me with a red hot poker I would be pushed to answer Nic Jones. He has such an amazing way of telling a story, you as the listener are completely immersed in the plot.

20. Which song would you like played at your funeral – and why?

Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. A little bit of sunshine from Bob Marley is never wasted. On mothers’ day this year, which fell days before lockdown, me and my girls made cardboard beaks and wings, and husband Damien O’Kane brought his guitar.

We knocked on my mum’s door, left her a bunch of flowers from our garden, stepped back and we all sang this song to my parents. Since that day, and all the way through lockdown, every morning in our house has started with Bob singing that song, cos (sic) I fully believe him. ‘Every little thing is gonna be alright”.

A still from the video to Kate’s cover of Manic Monday, with her daughters on backing vocals



Photograph credits:


Kate red dress: David Angel

Kate leather sofa: David Angel

Kate live (black & white): Lieve Boussauw

2 x video stills from Rusby family DIY video



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