Posted by Kevin Boyd, 27 Nov 2010
For some of us, every new Martin Carthy album is an event, and the latest release looks like it may be of some considerable interest to fans both old and new. The pre-release promotional blurb for the forthcoming album “The January Man: Live in Belfast, 1978” claims it to be “the first ever official release of a Martin Carthy live solo album” which, depending on how you define ‘official’, may well be the case. In fact, the live album “Martin Carthy at Ruskin Mill” received a limited release in 2005 but was never widely available and of course “Both Ears and the Tail”, recorded live in 1966 (with Swarb, crucially) but unreleased until 2000, is now readily available via Topic Records.
This new live album promise some intriguing material including a couple of previously unrecorded (by Carthy) songs, some others that have been recorded but are not widely available and a number of tracks that are likely to be radical re-workings of familiar favourites. I’ve yet to hear the album and at the moment I know little about it beyond the track list and the fact that it was recorded live at the Sunflower Folk Club in Belfast on 20th October 1978.
Unsurprisingly, there are a number of songs from Carthy’s two latest solo albums, “Crown of Horn” (1976) and “Because It’s There” (1978), but there are also a number of previously unavailable songs. The official release isn’t until 24 January 2011 so until then here are some brief thoughts on the tracks:
This is likely to be a version of the song that appears on the 1969 Carthy & Swarb album “Prince Heathen“. If so, it will be somewhat different to the album version, which was dominated by Swarb’s fiddle.
The Worcestershire Wedding (The Old Woman All Clothed In Grey)
This, I suspect, will be a pretty straight copy of the track that appears on “Crown of Horn” in 1976.
William & Nancy
Probably the Morris tune that is available on the obscure 1976 live album “Folkfestival ’76 Dranouter” and on John Kikpatrick’s “Plain Capers“.
The Trees They Grow So High
Still in his set thirteen years after first appearing on his 1965 debut album, it will be interesting to hear how this differs from the earlier version.
Another “Crown of Horn” track. Along with “Prince Heathen” and “Famous Flower Of Serving Men” this was to be one of the major mainstays of Carthy’s solo live repertoire for many years to come.
Unreleased until now, this had already been part of Carthy’s live set for a number of years (I have an unreleased live recording from circa 1972/3).
The Green Wedding
Another previously unreleased song, this had been recorded for a John Peel session on 3 October 1974 but has yet to make it onto an official release.
The Siege Of Delhi
Guitar tune that appears on 1978’s “Because It’s There” album
The Plains Of Waterloo
Never previously recorded or released by Carthy. There are a number of versions of this song around and I’ve never heard Carthy’s interpretation so it will be interesting to hear how he treats it here.
The Harvest Feast Song
Another previously unrecorded song. I don’t know anything about this at all.
The January Man
Written by Dave Goulder and included on the 1971 “Landfall” album.
The Bonny Black Hare
Done to great effect with Swarb on the 1967 “Byker Hill” album and still (very occasionally) included in their live shows.