Rarities: “Bonny Lass of Anglesey” 7″ single (1976)

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 2 Oct 2010

STOP7002-4

Topic Records STOP7002

In 1976 Martin Carthy signed to Topic Records and released his first album for the label, “Crown Of Horn“. Carthy had long been considered one of the major artists of the younger generation to have emerged out of the 1960s folk revival and was then known (as he still is) largely for his innovative and thoughtful interpretations of mostly traditional repertoire. By this point Martin had been married to Norma Waterson and singing with the re-formed Watersons for a couple of years and with the exception of the “Bright Phoebus” project, all of The Watersons previous recordings had been released through Topic Records, including their 1975 ‘comeback’ album “For Pence andd Spicy Ale” on which Carthy had sung. With this in mind it must have seemed inevitable that he would eventually sign with the label that had become synonymous with both the English tradition and the more recent folk revival and one can only imagine that Carthy must have immediately felt at home with the new arrangement.

For their part, Topic Records appear to have considered Carthy’s signing as something of a coup. For possibly the only time in his solo career Martin was the subject of a promotional poster campaign which proclaimed him to be “Britain’s first folk singer on Britain’s first folk label“. I’ve no idea how many of these posters were produced or where they were intended to have been placed but as they were printed in full colour process to standard A2 size (420 x 594 mm /16.5 x 23.4 in) it’s clear that on this occasion Topic were not skimping on the cost – somewhat unusual for a label known to have operated on a shoestring for much of their 70-plus year existence.

The other interesting item that Topic issued to both tie in with Carthy’s signing to the label and promote the resultant album was the 7-inch single of “Bonny Lass of Anglesey” b/w “Palaces of Gold” (Cat. No. STOP7002). The single was part of a short-lived “Specials” series which ran from 1975 to 1976 and included singles by The Oldham Tinkers (STOP7001) and High Level Ranters (STOP7003). To this day this release remains the only example of a Martin Carthy solo single and I’ve often wondered how the choice of tracks was made. Whilst it’s probably true to say that few, if any, of the tracks on the album hold a broadly commercial appeal the two tracks chosen do at least represent the album’s content as well as any two tracks can reasonably be expected. I suspect that broader appeal was the least of Topic’s concerns and that the single was probably intended more as a promo device than a commercial concern in its own right. On my copy – and similarly on the few other copies I’ve seen – there are no specific marks to indicate that the single was a promotional issue so it’s likely to have been commercially available but I don’t know how many copies actually reached the shops and I doubt if anyone involved would have been too concerned about its position in the singles chart.

Copies of the single occasionally appear on eBay and despite their rarity they don’t seem to command the extortionate prices that his much more widely available 1960s Fontana albums or the “No Songs” ep often attract. So if you keep your eyes and ears open this is one Martin Carthy rarity that should be relatively easy and fairly cheap to obtain.

See Also:

“The Bonny Lass Of Anglesey” in Discography

External Links:

Topic Records discography on mustrad.org
“Crown Of Horn” on Reinhard Zierke’s Mainly Norfolk
STOP7002 on 45cat.com

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One Response to Rarities: “Bonny Lass of Anglesey” 7″ single (1976)

  1. […] video of the Crosley Cruiser record player. This is the single version of “The Bonny Lass of Anglesey” from […]

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