#MC50 : Comparing Topic’s ‘Martin Carthy’ 50th anniversary re-issue with the Fontana original

19 April 2015

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 19 April 2015

Topic Records issued their 50th anniversary edition of Martin Carthy’s debut album in a limited edition of 750 copies as one of their 2015 Record Store Day releases.

I thought it would be interesting to compare this edition with my original 1965 Fontana records copy (mine is the mono edition) so what follows are a series of compare and contrast photographs of the 1965 and 2015 editions.

Front Cover

The immediately obvious difference with the 2015 edition is the removal of the Fontana logo from the top right corner which has been handled very well compared with previous re-issues which either cropped the entire section of the cover (the 1970s vinyl re-issue) or blocked out the logo in black (the CD re-issue). This works so much better. Otherwise the cover is a faithful reproduction of the original although the new edition has a slightly more prominent blue hue whereas the original tended towards green in places (I accept that this could be due to the age of my copy). On closer inspection the image on the new edition is reproduced a little darker with higher contrast and saturation but slightly lower image definition and the text in the top right appears to have been re-set.

Back Cover

Again, this is a faithful reproduction of the original but with some slight alterations. The MARTIN CARTHY text has been re-set in a different (but similar) font. The track listing and main sleeve notes on the new edition appear to be the same font as the original but have again been re-set so there are a few discreet changes in layout and text placement. The necessary addition of the Topic logo, copyright notices and barcode are slightly less discreet changes. The main difference between the two editions is in the manufacturing method – the original 1965 mono edition features the then-standard ‘foldback’ sleeve with paper label pasted on top whereas the new edition is ‘fully-laminated’ (some later ’60s Fontana editions were also ‘fully laminated’ so arguably this is a ‘faithful’ reproduction but it obviously differs from my early copy).

Inner Sleeve, label and spine

The 1965 edition only included a plain (blank) inner sleeve but the new edition has an attractive picture inner sleeve that reproduces a Karl Dallas review of Martin’s first two albums (no date given) and a transcript of his classic arrangement of Scarborough Fair. The labels are completely different by necessity and it’s nice to see one of Martin’s albums featuring the now-classic blue and silver Topic label design. Finally, the title and catalogue number on the spine differs from the original.


#MC50 – ‘Martin Carthy’ at 50: “Scarborough Fair”

1 January 2015

Posted by Kevin Boyd, 1 January 2015

csip502015 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Carthy’s debut solo album, the imaginatively-titled Martin Carthy. It’s probably fair to say that it was one of the most influential folk albums of the 1960s and in terms of repertoire it had an enormous impact on the British folk scene for many years.

Scarborough Fair may well be the best known song on the album, not least because of the subsequent controversy surrounding Paul Simon’s ‘borrowing’ of Carthy’s arrangement. Perhaps for this reason it has been largely absent from his repertoire since the mid-60s whereas several other songs from his debut album have regularly re-appeared in his live sets.

It hasn’t been entirely absent however, and in the 1990s he was persuaded to record the song with Wood Wilson Carthy and also dueted on a version with Bert Jansch (under the title ‘The Elfin Knight‘). More recently he’s recorded two versions for BBC radio and within the last month a new recording appeared over the closing credits of the BBC TV drama ‘Remember Me‘.

As part of a new project #MC50 I’m creating a new YouTube video every month during 2015. Each video will includes rare, unique or unreleased tracks from Martin’s career – radio sessions, live tracks, TV recordings. January’s offering features Martin’s new recording of Scarborough Fair with some stills from the BBC show. Here is:


%d bloggers like this: