Posted by Kevin Boyd, 29 January 2018.
In the first of what I hope may develop into a series, I’m posting this infographic telling the story of Martin Carthy’s first solo album. Click on the image to view in full size.
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 30 May 2017
This isn’t a post about bootleg or pirate releases – that may provide an interesting subject for a future post but this is something altogether different. This concerns the kind of fake single I recently posted about on this site’s Facebook page. I speculated as to what, in an imaginary parallel universe where 7-inch singles were part of Martin’s standard output in the pre-CD era, would have been the perfect single from his 1960s to 1980s output. To illustrate my post, and just for a bit of fun, I mocked up some artwork to show what my initial choice – Three Jolly Sneaksmen – might have looked like on 7-inch vinyl.
Having thought a little more I concluded that it would also have been totally remiss to have not released Scarborough Fair in 1965 had singles rather than albums been the common currency in folk music. I mocked up another illustration before it occurred to me that it might have been interesting if all five labels that issued solo albums by Martin during this period had also released accompanying singles. It was a short step from there to me attempting to put together a further three illustrations to complete the set.
This project – if you can call it that – has just been a bit of fun so below are my five fake Martin Carthy singles with some brief thoughts on why I think they would have made great releases and notes on the sources used to replicate the period label and cover artworks. Production and publishing credits would have all been correct at the time of original release and where catalogue number prefixes are used they are true to the various labels (although the actual catalogue numbers are invented).
‘Scarborough Fair’ (1965) Fontana Records
Taken from the album ‘Martin Carthy’ TL5269
The archetypal 60s Carthy track from his first album would surely have been an obvious choice as a single. It might have also provided the perfect foil for Simon & Garfunkel’s version that Simon famously learned/borrowed/stole (delete as applicable) directly from Martin. Simon’s version may be much better known now but in 1965 it wouldn’t appear on record for another year and took three years to emerge as a single.
The label is based on existing Fontana labels from the period. The sleeve is fairly closely based on an existing Fontana sleeve from around this time (or possibly slightly earlier) with a change of colour to match the label and a couple of additions to heighten the period feel. The ‘sample record’ sticker is standard for promo/non-sale Fontana and Philips items from this period.
Cold Haily Windy Night (1971) Philips Records
Taken from the album ‘Landfall’ 6308 048There are several unaccompanied songs amongst the 10 tracks on ‘Landfall’, which is perhaps not the most appropriate material for single release. Of the guitar-based songs this is a strong standout that Martin would also perform at around the same time during his first period with Steeleye Span. This has always been a favourite and was an obvious choice from this album for me.
The label is the standard Philips Records promo type and based on the ‘PHILIPS’ typography is from around this period but could also be a little earlier. The sleeve is not based on any known design although the ‘PHILIPS’ logo is about the same size and placed in roughly the same place as it appears on a number of known sleeves. The text ‘The Records of the Century’ and ‘PRODUCTS OF PHILIPS RECORDS LIMITED’ appear on some existing sleeves, in the case of ‘The Records of the Century’ in a slightly different typeface.
Famous Flower of Serving Men (1972) Peg Records
Taken from the album ‘Shearwater’ PEG 12This iconic track from the underrated (and currently unavailable) ‘Shearwater’ album would have been well deserving of the single treatment, if only to test the patience of DJs across the country! When this track appeared on Peg Records’ 8-track tape version of the album it was so long it had to be split across two of the available tracks. On my imaginary version I’ve avoided this by making it play at 33⅓ rpm.
The label is based on existing contemporaneous Peg singles. The sleeve is designed from scratch using a simple inverted repeat of the ‘PEG’ logo to give a period effect.
Three Jolly Sneaksmen (1974) Deram Records
Taken from the album ‘Sweet Wivelsfield’ SML1111Taken from what is perhaps another underrated album – certainly Martin has been less than complimentary about it at various times – this is one of several standout tracks for me and one that would remain lurking in Martin’s live repertoire for at least the next two decades. The rhythmic, percussive guitar and incessant chorus would have made a striking single if released at the time.
The label and sleeve are both based closely on known Deram Records examples from around the period, with just a couple of embellishments to the sleeve for the sake of detail. The Gama Records logo appears for the first time on one of these labels.
The Devil and the Feathery Wife (1982) Topic Records
Taken from the album ‘Out Of The Cut’ 12TS426There is an actual Martin Carthy solo single between the last example and this. ‘The Bonny Lass of Anglesey’ was released in limited numbers in 1976 to promote his first album for Topic Records so there’s a bit of a gap before we get to this final ‘fake’ example from Martin’s final solo album of the pre-CD era. This is a song that’s light-hearted yet hides a sobering maxim and there’s rarely a solo gig to this day that doesn’t end with it still.
The label is very closely based on the existing Topic label used for ‘The Bonny Lass of Anglesey’ in 1976 at least one other single release by Topic in the mid-70s. The sleeve is created from scratch and is loosely based on the colours, layout and typeface used on the rear cover of the original vinyl issue of the ‘Out Of The Cut’ album.
I hope you have as much fun scrutinising these as I had making them. I’ve tried to remain true to known releases from the relevant times on the respective labels but where this has not been feasibly I wanted to at least retain some of the period feel. As I said earlier in this post, this has just been a bit of fun so please don’t waste too much time trawling through eBay for copies of these or scouring YouTube for those elusive Top Of The Pops performances. Having said that, if anyone knows where I can pick up a copy of the fake singles box set will you give me the nod…? 😀
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 7 May 2017
Mini album CDs are scaled-down reproductions of albums that were originally issued as 12” LPs and are perhaps most popular in Japan. Packaging reproduces that of the original vinyl LP rather than any later CD reissues and will often include any inserts or inner sleeves that may not be included in the standard CD. A paper insert with additional information in both English and Japanese may also be included and an ‘obi strip’ – a small strip of paper or card wrapped around the cover – is a standard feature.
This is an August 2015 release of Martin’s 1967 Byker Hill album from Media Arte Records and rather than being from Japan this was issued in South Korea. It’s something I picked up around a year ago but have been reluctant to post here as I wasn’t sure if it was a legitimate release or one of the many available pirate/bootleg issues. I was recently reassured by David Suff of Topic Records that this was indeed a legitimate issue so I’m happy to post some detailed pictures here.
As you’ll see, reproduction of the original Topic LP sleeve and label are of a high quality and while the mastering on some Japanese albums gives a notoriously ‘brittle’ sound, the sound quality here is at least as good as the standard issue Topic CD of the same album.
There are now a number of Japanese mini album CDs of Martin’s solo and duo albums available – just last week a pirate version of his first album was released – but this is the only issue I can confirm as a legitimately licenced product. As it’s also the only one I actually own I can’t vouch for the quality of any other releases in terms of the overall packaging or sound quality so I guess a general ‘buyer beware’ warning should go along with any of these items. And of course, it goes without saying that neither Martin nor Topic Records (or any of the other relevant artists or labels) will receive the necessary royalties from pirate releases.
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 2 October 2015
Martin Carthy: Vocals, guitar
Tony Cox: Synthesiser
“Palaces of Gold”
Released in the UK 1976 by Topic Records STOP 7002
Also on the album “Crown Of Horn”
First released in the UK 1976 by Topic Records 12TS300
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 19 April 2015
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 5 April 2015
Topic Records are to release a limited-edition version of Martin Carthy’s debut album for UK Record Store Day. The edition will carry the catalogue number 12TS2015 and will be limited to 750 copies with audio remastered for 180g audiophile vinyl that has been pressed at Optimal in Germany. It will be available initially in-store only at participating record shops on Saturday 18 April but it’s likely that Topic will make any remaining copies available via their website in the following weeks, as they have with their previous RSD releases.
Previous Topic RSD releases have reproduced the original sleeve notes, artwork and production techniques (foldback sleeves, etc). So far I’ve been unable to determine if that is the case here although Topic have released this cover image showing that they have finally made a decent job of dealing with the old Fontana logo that appeared in the top-right corner of the original release. I’ll post more details once I get my hands on a copy.
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 8 February 2015
Martin and Eliza’s 2014 album The Moral of the Elephant has been nominated in the Best Album category in the 2015 BBC Folk Awards.
Surprisingly, there are no nominations for Best Duo or Best Traditional Track but the Best Album category is decided by a public vote so you can add your support by clicking here or on the image above and voting before midnight on 13 February (UK time).
If you haven’t heard the album you can find out more from the Topic records EPK below…
The full list of nominees can be found here.
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 1 January 2015
2015 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:
fRoots editor Ian Anderson made the discussed the awards and announced the winners on the BBC Radio 3 “World on 3” show which you can hear for the next four weeks here.
Posted by Kevin Boyd, 23 February 2014
It’s been a busy week for Topic Records at the BBC Folk Awards: as well as Martin and Eliza using the occasion to debut a number of songs from their forthcoming duo album, another Topic act The Full English performed at Wednesday night’s ceremony and received awards for Best Group and Best Album. In the middle of all this Topic announced that Martin and Eliza would feature on the label’s 2014 UK Record Store Day release with a 7″ single of “Happiness” due on 19 April.
2014 will be the seventh UK Record Store Day and Topic have previously participated with releases by June Tabor & Oyster Band (2012) and Davy Graham (2013). These were exclusively available in physical format as limited runs of 1000 copies on 7″ vinyl from participating stores on the day of release with remaining copies being made available via Topic’s website at later dates. Digital versions can be downloaded via iTunes.
It’s safe to assume that the release of “Happiness” will follow the same format. This will be the first available track from Martin and Eliza’s new album “The Moral of the Elephant” as the 19 April release date will be some six weeks before the album is issued on 2 June. As yet there has been no announcement on the single’s B-side(s) or catalogue number but I would expect the latter to follow recent patterns and be assigned STOP2014. More detail to follow as and when it becomes available.
Edit : 24 February
Topic Records posted the following response:
“Martin & Eliza’s RSD single will have the catalogue number STOP2587.
We will shortly be announcing our other Record Store Day release which will have the catalogue number STOP2014…..
Read my review of Topic’s 2013 Record Store Day release (also available here)