1990 : Life And Limb

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick

01 : Sovay
02 : The Begging Song
03 : Bows of London
04 : The Pepperpot / Sailing into Walpole’s Marsh / Bunker Hill
05 : A Question of Sport
06 : Oh Dear Oh
07 : Carthy’s March / The Lemon Tree
08 : Lochmaben Harper
09 : Byker Hill

First released in the UK 1990 by Special Delivery Records SPD1030 (vinyl), SPDCD1030 (CD) and SPDC1030 (cassette).

CD re-issued circa 1994 by Topic Records TSCD491

Martin Carthy: guitar, vocals
Dave Swarbrick: fiddle


“This album is dedicated to the memory of AL Lloyd, friend and teacher”

With the exception of Byker Hill, all track were recorded live on 23rd February 1990 at FOLCAL POINT, St. Louis, MO, USA.
Engineer: Paul D. Stamler.

Thanks to Judy Stein of FOLCAL POINT and Alan Rosenkoether of Washington University Music School for the loan of the DAT machine.

Byker Hill was recorded live at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, Ca, USA on the 17th February 1990.
Engineer: Bob Carlson.

Production Manager: John Cheleu.
Production master prepared by Dave Kenny at IdealSound Recorders, London
Mastered by Tim Young at CBS

Photography by Andrew Cleal
Design by Rodeo

All tracks Traditional, arr. Martin Carthy / Dave Swarbrick except:
4a & 7: Dave Swarbrick
5: Martin Carthy

Sleeve Notes:

The Begging Song is a reworking of something which has been around in various forms for three or four hundred years, a version of which I learned in the sixties from Ewan MacColl (and so did a few others). Not that the old song is a failure, more that the re-appearance of beggars on our streets as a matter of course warrants, I think, a more present response from the rest of us.

There are three songs on this album from the repertoire of the late great A.L. ‘Bert’ Lloyd. Sovay. the Female Highwaymanis his slight re-working of a song from the Dorset singer Marina Russell (who called it Shilo)and a beautiful illustration of his and others’ notion that all English folk music is cast in the time signature of one beat to the bar. It, along with Byker Hill, which Bert re-worked from the Tyneside song ‘Me Ginny site ower late up’, is one of the songs which was a regular part of Dave’s and my repertoire when we worked together 1966-69, the instrumental sides of which, over the years, have changed quite a lot, and in the case of Byker Hill, expanded. The last of the three, Oh Dear Oh is possibly the one we’ve both known the longest as individuals, however, it’s the one we never did as a duo until now.

Ever since I head Jody Stecher sing a luminous song called The Wind and the Rain – a version of The Two Sisters – I have wanted to sing it. Its overwhelming feature is its concentration on that aspect of the story dealing with the building from the murder victim’s remains of a fiddle which then takes on a life of its own and ultimately unmasks the murderer. Having found my own efforts at singing this to be as unconvincing as my efforts at American songs usually are, I cast around for a tune from this side of the water, came upon The Bows of London and then tried to stay close to Jody’s words. A ‘Bow’ is the bend in a river.

There can hardly be a musician who does not know a story about a fellow musician who, under the influence on some kind of intoxicant (or not), egged on by not especially benevolent (or maybe downright malevolent) friends or acquaintances, has done something impossibly stupid and come up smelling of roses. The Lochmaben Harper is a busker whose very wealthy `friends’ come severely unglued when trying to put him in what they consider to be his place – thanks also due to the imagination of his wife. The air is a pipe march called Follow My Highland Soldier.

The Pepperpot was written by Dave, following the previously mentioned one-beat-in-a-bar rule for English music. Sailing into Walpole’s Marsh was learned from Paul Brady and Bunker Hill from O’Neill’s collection.

Dave actually dreamed Carthy’s March, woke up, wrote it down and went straight back to sleep leaving the problem of how to play it till the morning. I’m glad he solved it. The Lemon Tree is in memorian Trevor Lucas, who was a very special friend and who died very suddenly. At the wake in Trevor’s house in Sydney, Dave saw, growing in the back garden, the first lemon tree he’d seen in his life, and that moment presented itself as an obvious choice of title when he wrote the tune honouring the occasion a short time after.

A Question of Sport grew over the space of about three years as the response of someone who is very fond of sport (me), at the apparently never ending stream of sportsmen detaching themselves from the real world with the cry “Just doing my job”.
Martin Carthy, 1990


2 Responses to 1990 : Life And Limb

  1. […] Steam, 2009); “Sovay” with Brass Monkey (Brass Monkey, 1983) and with Dave Swarbrick (Life & Limb, 1990); “Ye Mariners All” with Waterson:Carthy (Waterson:Carthy, 1994);  […]

  2. […] introducing High Germany. The set was very similar to recent gigs but with the unusual addition of Bows Of London, played on guitar for apparently only the third time in public (as an attempt to ‘challenge […]

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