Friday, April 9, 2010

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick

Martin Carthy gets tagged as the "English Bob Dylan" a lot. This comparison is not entirely unfounded, as they both worked hard to dig up their traditional folk repertoire, they both exposed folk to a broader audience, and they both shocked their fans when they went electric. Bob even thanks Martin in the liner notes on one of his early records (the Freewheelin', I think, but I might be wrong...). But Martin Carthy doesn't get due credit for all his accomplishments when this comparison is made. Carthy is a true folk scholar and archivist, who pieced together ancient material from scraps preserved both written and orally passed down. And his numerous records present this material in a largely traditional fashion - much of his music is acappella, sung in his distinctive, Anne Briggs-ish delivery; or with the spare accompaniment of Dave Swarbrick's fiddle and his own stark and reserved guitar work.
After Swarbrick (who never received equal billing as Carthy, due to contractual reasons) parted ways for a time, Carthy went on solo, as well as joining groups like Steeleye Span and the Albion Country Band; while Swarb became a long-standing member of Fairport Convention.
From 1967's Byker Hill, here are two songs representative of the finest English traditions, mainly murder and incest. Hoowee...

The Bloody Gardener

Lucy Wan

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