01 : The Trees They Do Grow High
02 : Lord Franklin
03 : The Bloody Gardener
04 : Poor Murdered Woman
05 : Seven Yellow Gypsies
06 : The Bold Poachers
07 : Scarborough Fair
08 : Lowlands of Holland
09 : Davy Lowston
10 : Streets of Forbes
11 : Polly on the Shore
12 : Cold Haily Windy Night
First released in the UK 1999 by Topic Records TSCD 750
Largely solo compilation drawing from Carthy’s first six albums (Dave Swarbrick appears on tracks 3, 4 and 10). Not to be confused with the US-released compilation “The Collection”
Martin Carthy: vocals, guitar
Dave Swarbrick: fiddle (on tracks 3 and 4), mandolin (on track 4)
Compilation and production for CD by Tony Engle
Notes by David Suff
Original photographs by Brian Shuel / Collections
Digital sleeve design / tinting by John Haxby, Edinburgh
To write about the career of Martin Carthy is to write about the rich and diverse history of the English folk song revival since the early 1960s. He has long been regarded as on of its pivotal figures – both his vocal and guitar styles being two of the most consistent, distinctive and influential sounds on the scene. Over the past four decades, Martin’s influence has extended far beyond the British Isles. It is well documented elsewhere that his early work was an inspiration to Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Martin’s reading of Lord Franklin became the template for Bob Dylan’s Dream, whilst his version of Scarborough Fair was the basis for the popular Simon & Garfunkel hit. More recently his influence has been detected in the work of artists as diverse as Paul Weller, Richard Thompson and Ultramarine.
In early 1966 Martin began an association with Dave Swarbrick – the finest fiddler on the folk scene and a remarkably sympathetic accompanist. At a time when the very notion of accompanied folk song was hotly debated, they defined the dynamic potential of the interplay between fiddle and guitar. This collection draws upon the half-dozen seminal albums that Martin and Dave recorded between 1965 and 1970 – the period when Martin’s immediately identifiable vocal and spare guitar styles were being forged.
Over the next three decades Martin recorded two of the earliest and finest albums by Steeleye Span; the Albion Country Band’s classic “Battle of the Field”; three remarkable records with the Watersons, and three with the genre-defining Brass Monkey. Recently he has recorded two splendid albums with Waterson:Carthy – the critically acclaimed family partnership. At the time of writing, he has just released “Signs of Life” – one of his very finest recordings yet. Martin’s extraordinarily rich career has seen him performing in clubs and at festivals around the world, on radio and television, and in theatrical productions at the Royal National Theatre and with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1998 Martin was awarded an MBE for his services to English folk music.
Q Magazine September 1999***
When Carthy, a giant of British roots music, received his MBE last year, lefties of a certain age may have revised objections about the honours system. This selection from the admirable Topic label concentrates on Carthy’s early phase. Spare, powerful guitar phrasing which must have influenced the young Nick Drake and plaintive singing are the cornerstones of this music whose worth and status is unarguable, although it can all get slightly lugubrious to the ear untuned to folk cadences. Few of Carthy’s protagonists – Polly On The Shore, Poor Murdered Woman etc – seem to have much fun, but this is still an ideal jumping off point and a historical document in itself. Speaking of which, the picture of the King & Queen Folk Club 1962 is equally priceless.
Reviewed by Stuart Maconie