Friday, 25 May 2012

Sumer Is Icumen In

I loved the 20 CD collection of folk songs that Topic Records put out in the late 1990's - The Voice of the People. Another decade on and I note with interest that there is another tranche of releases.

Compiled by Dr Reg Hall, himself a fine musician, the original collection draws primarily on Topic's own output of some 120 albums, but also on previously unreleased private recordings and other long-unavailable commercial recordings. In the past, Topic put out albums by individual performers, but these 20 CD's are arranged thematically. There are three volumes of dance music, two of nautical songs, two concerning work (mainly rural), two of ballads, four of songs about love, courtship and sexual encounters, three of what might broadly be termed leisure pursuits (including drinking and hunting), and one each about exile, topical issues, and seasonal and ritual events. The one exception to the broadly thematic arrangement is Volume 11, My father's the king of the gypsies, which is devoted to recordings of English and Welsh travellers.

The one obvious omission from the last 20-CD Voice Of The People series in 1998 was the Copper Family, but happily they are here in force this time – Jim Copper is included with an outstanding You Seamen, Bold (on Good People, Take Warning), while the same collection features many of the traditional singers most dear to the revival, including Harry Cox, Jeannie Robertson, Fred Jordan and the fisherman who essentially inspired a 17-year-old Martin Carthy to devote his career to folk music, Sam Larner.

Talking of Jim Copper, I hope you enjoy this lovely version of 'Hard Times of Old England' - absolutely wonderful.

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