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Posted by Chris on September 10, 2009 at 10:16 am  

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english folk label topic records is 70 years old. late junction ran a program profiling the label this week – you have about a week to listen to it here. topic was started in 1939 as an offshoot of the communist led Workers’ Music Association to sell mail order Soviet and leftist political music. after the war it became one of the first British labels to issue blues recordings before it subsequently moved into English, Irish and Scottish folk music. singer, writer and activist Ewan McColl was involved with the label from the 50s onwards. Ewan McColl would later become well known for his series of radio ballads for the BBC. these were broadcast in the late 50s and early 60s. they had a variety of themes including the construction of the M1 (Britain’s first motorway), the fishing industry and the psychology of pain. they weaved together interviews, traditional and original songs and field recordings. crucially, McColl, Charles Parker (pictured above) and Peggy Seeger used the original interviews rather than actors’ voices, making the broadcast of these programs one of the first times regional and working class accents were heard on the BBC. I wrote a bit more about the radio ballads back here and this mix drew heavily on ‘singing the fishing’. topic issued the radio ballads on CD in 1999.

in the same year they issued a 20 CD collection called voice of the people which thematically collected many of the early recordings from their catalogue. here’s a tune from volume 2 themed around the sea.

Mary Ann Carolan – In London So Fair

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here’s a song from Anne Briggs’s topic-released self titled debut record. She was active in the late 60s and early 70s during a period where folk english folk music was enjoying a resurgence in popularity. You can nab the record from these fine people along with her excellent ‘the time has come’ issued on CBS.

Anne Briggs – Willie O Winsbury

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one of the more famous figures from this period is Martin Carthy who, together with his partner Norma Waterson, her family and their daughter Eliza Carthy would be staples of both topic and the english folk scene from the 60s to the present day. this is from his 1976 album ‘crown of horn’ on topic.

Martin Carthy – Locks and Bolts

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finally Shirley Collins only had two records on topic, one of which was her first record, ‘sweet england’, a collection of british and american songs from 1959. as such it’s a nice representation of the topic records of the 50s in a transitional phase. unfortunately i don’t have it. so just because it’s great here’s a song from her 1969 record ‘anthems in eden’ with her sister Dolly. the full record is here.

shirley and dolly collins – ca the yowes

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1 Comment »

  • Comment by Creerlawn on December 10, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Uririulfineex
adod

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