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Out of all of the albums recorded by Peter Bellamy, this Tenth solo album is perhaps considered the most important of his albums. For many this is the Sgt Pepper of the Bellamy catalogue of albums. (the eighth album called Peter Bellamy does appear on CD along with the album Fair Annie on the double CD release Fair Annie. The ninth solo album called Tell it like it was, is not available on CD yet.) Personally I like all the albums just as much as each other but the idea of this album being of strong significance is well founded.
The Transports is an outstanding album from Peter Bellamy that was produced and released in 1977.
It stands out because it is a ballad Opera. A folk concept album if you like.

The album tells the story of Henry Cabell and Susannah Holmes, a pair of English convicts transported to Australia in the 18th Century.
The story is based on an account of what happened to the two convicts sourced from a Norfolk historian Eric Fowler. His research shows that in 1783 Henry Cabell was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years for the burglary of a country house. And Susannah Holmes received a sentence for transportation for a different theft. They are sent to New South Wales after a three year imprisonment. (during which time they had fallen in love and produced a son) They were refused permission to marry. All the female convicts are to go alone in the first fleet to Australia but Susannah’s son is refused passage. A guard, John Sydney takes pity and takes the infant to London to appeal to the Home Secretary Lord Sydney. Sydney orders that Susannah and Henry be reunited, married and then sent together with their son to Australia. (they were not actually married until they got there though).
Eventually Henry becomes a constable in the new colony and enjoys success.

The album is written by Peter Bellamy. He gives new lyrics set to existing folk melodies. The tunes are great and the folk musical journey through the plot is a joy.
Another thing of significance about this album is that it contains a wealth of folk music musicians helping out. Each remain in character just like a normal Opera. The album features The Watersons, Norma Waterson and husband Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, A.L. Lloyd, June Tabor, Martin Winsor, Cyril Tawney and Dave Swarbrick and Dolly Collins.

There is no doubt that this is an important album in British Folk music and certainly a milestone recording. It is great that such a classic is available on CD and it is a must have for anyone interested in Peter Bellamy.
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on 27 May 2010
The Transports is a masterpiece of Archetypal Traditional music writing. Peter Bellamy put together a story of the first voyage of transports to Australia. Utilising the cream of the 60's and 70's folk elite to play the parts of the various characters:- Mike and Norma Waterson as the two main Characters Henry Cabel and Susannah Holmes, and even including A L Lloyd as a burglar hung for his part in the burglary that Henry was to be transported for. Other artistes included are Martin Carthy, Nic Jones. Cyril Tawney,June Tabor, Martin Winsor and Vic Legg and Dave Swarbrick accompanies the Street Singer (Peter Bellamy).

All in all this is an album well worth adding to any ones folk collection.
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on 22 October 2013
I find Peter Bellamy on his own in an album, not sufficiently varied.But this, his own,excellent composition, based on a true story, boasts many of folk's greatest talents too .It has been called a masterpiece and I agree. It was produced in 1977;The lyrics are Peter's own, but set mostly to existing tunes.
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on 5 May 2015
Melody Maker's folk album of 1977, and arguably PB's masterpiece, this is a must-hear item for anyone interested in that particular revival. It is interesting to hear one or two of the songs still doing the rounds to the extent of verging on joining the "tradition".
I was lucky enough to hear PB himself preview one or two songs around the folk clubs about a year before the actual production. I heard a production at Kempton Park in 79 which was billed as being the original cast (which it certainly was in the majority, not sure about 100%)
While PB's own performance style earned him both praise and opprobrium (as he himself admitted) few could deny his capacity to be interesting, whether as performer, researcher, or writer.
The one thing this lacks to my mind, is a reason to be staged. One can hear the whole thing, and get it, without engaging the eyes at all.
The cast list alone is a testament to the regard in which PB was held, if you haven't heard this disc I urge you to remedy that omission.
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on 27 October 2014
An absolute joy to hear so many amazing singers, should be obligatory listening for anyone interested in the folk song revival. Should also be obligatory for those interested in the convict period in Australia especially Van Diemens Land, today's Tasmania.
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on 6 February 2012
I first came across Pete Bellamy in the 60s when he performed with The Young Tradition and, for me, back in those early and informative days of my folk education, he quickly became an acquired taste, though not to everyone's liking. This album is an excellent tribute to this ambitious work, reinforced by the quality of performers on the various tracks, including Dave Swarbrick, Nic Jones, June Tabor, Norma Waterson, Cyril Tawney and the Fairport Convention.
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on 11 August 2011
They certainly don't make them like this anymore, and indeed couldn't, as very sadly many of the key players on this album are either dead like Dolly Collins Mike waterson and Peter Bellamy himself, or retired/incapacitated like Nic Jones and Norma Waterson. This is a (slightly) flawed masterpiece, and includes, in my view 2 of the greatest songs in the english folk/ballad tradition. "Us Poor Fellows" sung by Nic Jones, and the magnificent"The Black and Bitter Night" sung by Mike waterson who died just recently. An essential album for anybody interested in the folk revival
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on 7 August 2013
Bought this as a present for my mum as we recently saw an updated version performed at the Dragon Hall in Norwich. She saw the original back in the 1970's & knew Peter Bellamy, who sadly took his own life. My mother is very happy with CD & I think it is great too.
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on 18 January 2014
I was disappointed in this opera. There is no human interest in it. The main characters are very passive - in fact only Turnkey is given any sort of an active role. The songs aren't strong enough to stand alone - which is why, I think, that they've never been recorded individually by most of the artists on the album
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