1969 : Prince Heathen

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick

01 : Arthur McBride and the Sergeant
02 : Salisbury Plain
03 : Polly on the Shor
04 : The Rainbow
05 : Died for Love
06 : Staines Morris
07 : Reynardine
08 : Seven Yellow Gypsies
09 : Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard
10 : Prince Heathen
11 : The Wren

First released in the UK 1969 by Fontana Records STL 5529

Re-issued 1977 by Topic Records 12TS344

CD issued 1994 by Topic Records TSCD344

Martin Carthy: vocals, guitar
Dave Swarbrick: fiddle

All tracks Traditional, arr. Martin Carthy except:
1, 6, 10, & 11:  Traditional, arr. Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick

Sleeve Notes:

Arthur McBride and the Sergeant
I have always assumed that this highly subversive song was from East Anglia, but in fact I don’t know. It is probably 18th century in origin and I learned it from Redd Sullivan, who sang it with great wavings of the arms – the folk world’s Joe Cocker? The tune at the end is French.

Salisbury Plain
When Lucy Broadwood first tried to collect this song she failed because the singer refused point-blank to sing ‘such an improper song’ to a lady, and it took a special trip by a gentleman friend of hers to get it. The present version is from the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

Polly on the Shore
A song about that most beautiful and most precarious of emotions – resignation, and with a tune to match.

Died for Love
It has been suggested that this is a fragment of a much longer ballad but this is really immaterial when what you have stands perfectly well on its own. Taken from the Grainger collection of Lincolnshire songs, from the singing of Joseph Taylor.

Staines Morris
This is the result of a co-operative effort by Cyril Tawney, The Yetties, Frankie Armstrong and myself. The tune is obviously for a very formal dance and has echoes of Michael Praetorius and before.

To the country person everything around him has its place in the pattern of nature but the fox seems the odd man out. Among other things it seems that he kills for no reason, and although this has been explained by diligent study, at one time it led to people attributing a very sinister aspect to him. He was believed to have magical powers, and there are many stories of foxes appearing as people and threatening them in some evil way (Little Red Riding Hood is one related). The same theme in a very debased form was made famous by Lon Chaney Jr’s many appearances as the Werewolf on film.

Seven Yellow Gypsies
There is a whole school of thought which seeks to show that ballads are records of historical occurrences. Possibly they are but I can’t see that it matters two hoots. The idea of a wife being taken by the gypsies is as old as the gypsies themselves. I have taken the liberty of filling the story out by plundering different versions.

Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard
The story speaks for itself and really needs nothing written about it at all. The tune I pinched from a version of the Holy Well.

Prince Heathen
This is a rewrite of a song that appears in Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads and set to an imperfectly remembered tune usually sung to either The Broomfield Hill or The Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter.

The Wren
Collected by Andy Nisbet formerly of Swansea University from two old ladies in Pembrokeshire.

Martin Carthy, 1969

5 Responses to 1969 : Prince Heathen

  1. […] Swarbrick albums but the track selection somewhat favours Byker Hill from 1967 (three tracks) and Prince Heathen from 1969 (four tracks). And unlike the Pegasus album, although Swarbrick gets a brief mention on […]

  2. […] This is likely to be a version of the song that appears on the 1969 Carthy & Swarb alum “Prince Heathen“. If so, it will be somewhat different to the album version, which was dominated by […]

  3. […] Woman” and his later explorations into innovative guitar accompaniment on the likes of “Seven Yellow Gypsies“, “Skewbald” and “The Bedmaking“. We even get a debut CD appearance […]

  4. […] a 12″ vinyl white label promo copy of Carthy & Swarbrick’s 1969 classic “Prince Heathen“. . . During the vinyl age major labels would press limited quantities of new and […]

  5. […] shots from this same concert feature on four different earthy album covers: The Topic reissue of Prince Heathen; The Pegasus Selections; The Transatlantic/festival Selections; The live archive album The January […]

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