"Martin Carthy is incredible." Bob Dylan
Over the past five decades Martin Carthy has been one of the most persistent and dedicated practitioners of English traditional music. He has been an essential figure in most of the significant developments in folk music during that time. To chronicle his career is to discuss the rich and diverse history of the English folk song revival since the early 1960s.
His early work was an inspiration to both Bob Dylan and Paul Simon; Martin's reading of Lord Franklin became the template for Bob Dylan's Dream, whilst his arrangement of Scarborough Fair was the basis for the popular Simon & Garfunkel hit. More recently his influence has been widely acknowledged by artists as diverse as Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, Richard Thompson, Martin Simpson and Fleet Foxes.
Today, nearly fifty years into what he still refuses to think of as a career, he continues to display a remarkable curiosity and open-mindedness to all manner of folk musics. This 2CD set makes a very compelling argument for saying that British music would not be the same without Martin Carthy's influence and presence over the past five decades.
Ever curious, Carthy has imbibed the essence of traditional song into an immediately identifiable signature sound. He is an extraordinarily gifted multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, mandolin and occasionally banjo, whose playing style is centred around a strong percussive drive.
Martin has performed and recorded in a multitude of different settings over the years. He was twice a member of Steeleye Span, appearing on two of their earliest and finest albums, he was a member of the short-lived Albion Country Band and Roy Bailey's Band of Hope. Between 1975 and 1993 he sang with the reformed Watersons alongside Norma, Lal and Mike Waterson, and with Blue Murder - the mighty choir which boasts the combined voices of the Watersons with Eliza Carthy and Coope, Boyes and Simpson. In recent years Martin has been a pivotal member of one of the most unusual collaborations of the past decade -The Imagined Village. Two remarkable ensembles shine brightest amongst this illustrious roll-call of collaborations - Brass Monkey and Waterson:Carthy.
Martin's extraordinarily rich career has seen him performing worldwide in clubs, concert halls and at festivals, on radio and television, and in theatrical productions at the Royal National Theatre and with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Over the years Martin has been the recipient of many awards. In June 1998 he was awarded an MBE for his services to folk music. In 2002 and again in 2005 he received the Folk Singer of the Year Award and in 2007 he and Dave Swarbrick were judged the Best Duo at the BBC Radio2 Folk Awards.
This two CD set collects together thirty four of his finest recordings - solo, with Dave Swarbrick, with the Watersons, with Waterson:Carthy and as a member of Brass Monkey from the treasury of recordings he has made over the years for Topic Records. It is a testimony to an enormously gifted singer and musician, whose considerable skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him so many admirers around the world.
"Martin Carthy was one of the great innovators of the 60's English folk scene. His guitar work was always clear and elegant. His influence was widespread and profound." - Paul Simon, 2000
"Martin's been a mainstay of traditional music, yet possesses an ability to bring it into the contemporary world. Together with Norma, Mike and the family Martin is a continuing inspiration to me and an influence on performers of many genres."
- Steve Winwood, 2001
Martin Carthy - arguably the most important singer in the English folk revival of the mid-twentieth century.
"Martin Carthy in the folk world is probably the supreme example of the craftsman dedicated to his work... you have to respect the man's skill and understanding of his subject and the enormous amount of expertise, research and study that goes into everything he does." - Dick Gaughan 1977
1 Scarborough Fair / 2 Broomfield Hill / 3 Lord Franklin / 4 Byker Hill / 5 The Bee's Wing / 6 Poor Murdered Woman / 7 Seven Yellow Gypsies / 8 Prince Heathen / 9 January Man / 10 His Name Is Andrew / 11 King Henry / 12 Skewbald / 13 The Bedmaking / 14 Geordie / 15 Lovely Joan / 16 Siege Of Delhi / 17 The Prickle Holly Bush / 18 I Sowed Some Seeds
1 The Devil & The Feathery Wife / 2 The Maid And The Palmer / 3 Sovay / 4 Dominion Of The Sword / 5 Bill Norrie / 6 A Stitch In Time / 7 Work Life Out To Keep Life In / 8 A Question Of Sport / 9 Rackabello / 10 Sir Patrick Spens / 11 Georgie / 12 Famous Flower Of Serving Men / 13 Mermaid / 14 The Maid Of Australia / 15 Christ Made A Trance / 16 The Harry Lime Theme