18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2011
Martin Carthy is now into his fifth decade as an artist and performer in the folk genre. Soon to be 70 he shows no signs of slowing down, nor losing his passion for the music he loves. Having an extensive and varied back catalogue, it is a case of where to start if you are new to his work.
I would heartily recommend this collection as square one. Thirty four tracks from his 1965 debut album to the present, and what a journey it's been. As someone who(five years ago), was not over-familiar with his work. Carthy never fails to inspire me. His material and choice of is as old as the hills but still sounds fresh and yes contemporary.
Standout tracks for me are Prince Heathen, January Man, The Bedmaking and Bill Norrie, but really there ain't a duff track. Carthy's well documented guitar skills are rhymic but also melodic. They are the perfect accompniment and 'serve the song' in all instances. MC is also underrated as a singer. His style is simple, but he can inject great pathos, humour and menace when called for.
Having met the man, I can report he is modest self-effacing and a true gent. If you have only a passing interest in folk......buy this collection.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
History is a mischievous old beast and while in recent months the 70th birthdays of Paul Simon and especially the great sage Bob Dylan have been the cause of much discussion and celebration little mention has been of Martin Dominic Forbes Carthy MBE. This quintessentially English musician is a man who deeply influenced the two great American singers and has cast a giant shadow over English folk. Not that Carthy would bemoan the attention given to others; indeed with his "first family of folk" he ploughs on regardless making great music and continues to takes this to hugely appreciative clubs and concert halls around the globe.
It's timely therefore to take stock and this excellent compilation on the grandee of Independent labels Topic records is a wonderful summation of a seminal career. True the absence of some of the early Steeleye Span and later Imagined Village work is a lacuna and no doubt others will bemoan the "benching" of one or two songs (I love Carthy's cover version of "Heartbreak Hotel" and his "John Barleycorn" is one of the best). Yet such compilations of a huge career are inevitably exercises in selectivity and in general terms this two-disc CD set does manage to cover most bases of his "solo" work and these 30+tracks are a brilliant introduction to the work of a genuine national treasure. Every one knows how Carthy versions of the traditional "Scarborough fair" was the template lifted by Simon, while "Bob Dylan's Dream" from the "Freewheelin Bob Dylan" is a variant on Carthy's version of Lord Franklin, which he taught a young Zimmerman in 1962. What is great about this collection however is that it draws in a great set of his musical contemporaries and issues out a challenge to a new generation of musicians to match his musical persistence
Listen to brilliant guitar work on the "Siege of Delhi" and try to not smile at its joy de vivre and yet somehow he manages to better this on "Byker Hill" where his musical partner for so many years the great Dave Swarbrick's dancing fiddle compliments perfectly his definitive vocal (Swarbrick is of course another great 70 year old). Highlights throughout the two discs come thick and fast. Carthy's version of "The bedmaking" is a model of its kind, the ten minute plus "Famous flower of serving men" an absolute tour de force which highlights Carthy's mature voice and the storytelling of "Poor Murdered Woman" capitivates. The rousing racing story "Skewbald" remains a perennial favourite with it model finger style guitar, "King Henry" still resonates down the years and "Geordie" still brings a lump to the throat. His "Dominions of the sword" is a powerful force of nature in the field of anti war songs and the "pop" at Thatcher's Falkland's imperial misadventure on "Question of Sport" hits the bull's-eye particularly the lines "Oh the cameras rattled and the questions flew'/Everybody sang Rule Britannia'/The Cabinet jumped up two by two'/Joining in with their own memoranda".
For the curious the great man himself reckons that his favourite song on the whole collection is the Brass Monkey version of "Maid of Australia "with superb accompaniment from accordionist John Kilpatrick. It is indeed a fine example of his craft on a very good compilation whose title aptly describes its content. Happy birthday and thanks.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2011
A must for all serious Folk Music Heritage collectors. Poor old Martin is finally beginning to loose his mid range voice power recently. Nearly all these tracks show him when still at his finest. This album will not disappoint !
on 1 February 2013
This is an unbelievable bargain whether you purchase the CD or mp3. Martin Carthy and his wonderful family have created so much fantastic music that this just touches the surface but it really is a great start, if you're starting, or a great 2 disc compilation if you have most of the stuff already.
on 19 June 2014
A trip through the life of Martin Carthy. If anything, a nod to the Imagined Village would have been nice, to add to the solo, Swarbrick, Brass Monkey and Waterson songs on here, but I don't think there is anything missing that should be on it.