Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick
01 : The Dominion Of The Sword
02 : Carthy’s Reel/Return To Camden Town
03 : A Question Of Sport
04 : Arthur McBride
05 : Ship In Distress
06 : Porcupine Rag
07 : The Deserter
08 : Mrs Bermingham/No. 178/Blind Mary
09 : Oh, Dear, Oh
10 : Broomfield Hill
11 : Peggy And The Soldier
12 : The Sheepstealer
First released in the UK 15 August 2011 by Fellside Records Cat. No. FECD243
Martin Carthy: guitar, vocals
Dave Swarbrick: fiddle, mandolin
1, 5 & 11: Hitchin Folk Club, September 1989
2, 8, 9 & 12: Folk Festival, Rudolstaldt, Germany, 3 July 1992
3: Brunswick Festival, Australia, 20 March 1994
4 & 10: Cedar Cultural Centre, USA
6: Bristol Albert Hole
7: Norwood Theatre, USA, 4 June 1996
Apart from the Hitchin Folk Club tracks, which were recorded by Kieran Jones, all the other recording engineers are unknown. Grateful thanks to all for the recording and for donating the tapes over the years.
All recordings from the Swarbrick Archive
Engineered and edited by Dave Swarbrick
Produced by Dave Swarbrick
Mastered at Gighouse Studios, Leamington Spa by Andie Thomson
Re-equalisation and Production Master by Paul Adams
Artwork by Mary Blood
Issued by arrangement with Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick
Photographs: Cover by Gerry Tierney
Inside: unknown (Swarbrick Archives)
I’m not sure that Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick would relish the idea of being called an institution, but to many people on the folk scene that is what they are. Not an institution in the sense of being staid, monolithic, grey and solid, but an institution in the sense of being familiar, always around. It wasn’t always so, of course. I first met both of them, abeit fleetingly, when they were on the cusp of becoming a duo in the middle 1960s. Dave had sessions on Martin’s first solo album in 1965 (‘Martin Carthy’) and again on his second album (‘Second Album’) in 1966. The credit on the front cover read ‘Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick’, but by album number four (‘But Two Came By’) they were a duo – “Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick”. They became the darlings of the Folk scene and went on to do another two albums culminating in one of my personal favourites, ‘Prince Heathen’ in 1969. The duo went into temporary abeyance when Swarb joined Fairport Convention in the middle of 1969. There then followed all sorts of groups and projects: Steeleye Span (twice!), Brass Monkey, The Albion Country Band, Band Of Hope, National Theatre projects and, of course, The Watersons, for Martin; Fairport Convention, Whippersnapper, duo with Simon Nicol and various solo projects for Swarb. After a twenty year hiatus they simply picked up where they had left off in 1989 and recorded a duo album (‘Life & Limb’) in 1990. Another followed in 1992 (‘Skin & Bone’) before Swarb emigrated to Australia. The Australian adventure only lasted a couple of years and, apart from Swarb’s health problems getting in the way the duo has been an on-going occasional project ever since.
They are two remarkable musicians. Martin’s approach to a song seems to be to follow the melody and lyrics rather than simply the chord progression. This results in you being led up all sorts of interesting alley ways and nooks and crannies rather than straight up the main road. Swarb has a highly distinctive style; he is instantly recognisable, innovative, with an innate sense of timing and with a swing that any self-respecting Jazz musician would die for. I seem to remember that when he first came to everyone’s notice, as a member of the Ian Campbell Folk Group, this is what he was criticised for as it was not what a folk fiddler should do. Where are those gainsayers now!
Both are risk takers on stage which gives their performance and edge and it is that which, despite some audio deficiencies, make these recordings interesting. Their personal interaction, and almost telepathic intuition, coupled with their engagement of the audience is perfectly illustrated here. Someone once said to me “you are on the edge of your seat wondering if they will get through it without it falling apart!”. It doesn’t, of course, but that’s where the excitement/tension for the audience lies.
These recordings were made over a period of six years on three continents. Not all of the songs originated on duo albums; some come from Martin’s solo albums. The repertoire is mostly traditional English folk songs combined with a 17th century poem adapted and set to music by Martin – with an interesting relevance still today – and a set of tunes by the Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan. It’s nice to see Porcupine Rag in there: it was composed by a white ragtime composer, Charles L Johnson in 1090 and was first recorded by Martin and Swarb along with the late Diz Dizley on the ‘Rags, Reels & Airs’ album (1967).
Paul Adams 2011
Fellside Records webside blurb:
Two icons of the English Folk Revival, Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick have had a huge influence individually, as a duo or as individual members of the seminal Folk Rock bands, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. In between they have notched up memorable contributions to an array of different groups and projects. Perhaps, though, they will be most remembered for their duo formed in the 1960s, resurrected in 1989 and which has been an on-going occasional outing ever since. What is remarkable is their intuitive almost telepathic connection on stage. This creates a tension and excitement for the audience and really comes to the fore in a ‘live’ setting. This set of ‘live’ performances garnered from various concerts on three continents from 1989 to 1996 perfectly illustrates this. This year sees them celebrating their 70th birthdays.