Topic Records have some special Record Store Day releases this year which will excite many folk music fans. We’ll be bringing you news on the others shortly but first has to be Martin Carthy’s very first solo album released in 1965 on the Fontana label. This anniversary limited edition has been remastered for 180 gram Vinyl and having received a copy and played it (a lot) I can tell you it sounds amazing. Topic Records have really excelled themselves and this release went far beyond what I was expecting. Nothing matches it in terms of audio quality. It was like Christmas had come early!
It’s on this album that Scarborough Fair features. Those of you well entrenched in British folk music history will know that it was Martin’s arrangement of this ballad which was famously used by Paul Simon for the Simon & Garfunkle hit Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme. Maybe that should read ‘infamously’ as Simon & Garfunkle copyrighted it as their own. But let’s not get too sidetracked into that well-trodden tale.
Martin’s influence has been huge and amongst his admirers Bob Dylan is probably the most famous. It was during the recording of Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in 1962 that Dylan first heard Carthy performing. His rendition of Lord Franklin and again Scarborough Fair would inspire Bob Dylan’s Dream and Girl from the North Country which includes the Scarborough Fair refrain “Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine.”
Read any article about Martin’s history and you’ll find a reference to the other possible routes he could have taken at the time just, which included an acting career, before he turned to traditional folk music and never looked back. We maybe have traditional Norfolk singer and fisherman Sam Larner to thank for this as Martin has often referred to first seeing Sam perform in 1958 as his epiphany moment.
Included in this release are the original liner notes written by Ian Campbell with further illustrative material on the inner bags including a great piece from Karl Dallas sub-titled ‘Portrait of a Revivalist’ which also gives thanks to Martin not pursuing other more popular routes stating:
‘There is no doubt that, had he wished, he could have become a real pop-folk heartthrob, with his sweet, almost tenor voice and his turburcularly handsome looks. Instead, he has moved steadily towards traditional material.’
Martin has remained a steadfast revivalist and I can join the very long queue that owe him a lot of thanks as it was Martin’s music that first led me further into English folk music (via my local public library) when I was in my early teens. Then I discovered Topic Records, that was certainly an eye-opener and a joy to know that I was only scratching the surface. If you have yet to discover our rich folk music history or you want to own piece of it then now’s your chance.
The album will be released for Record Store Day on 18th April 2015.
The Trees They Do Grow High
Ye Mariners All
The Queen Of Hearts Broomfield Hill
Springhill Mine Disaster
Scarborough Fair Lovely Joan
The Barley And The Rye
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
The Two Magicians
The Handsome Cabin Boy
And A Begging I Will Go