Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick, Byker Hill

Steve Hochman

By Steve Hochman

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The best starting point for the legendary Martin Carthy.

The name Carthy figures heavily in modern English folk music, with Martin's 40-year presence as an unassuming titan foremost. All of his many albums and projects are rewarding, but this 1967 album with fiddler Swarbrick (later of Fairport Convention) may be the best starting point. In his voice and hands, the tales of working folk, farmers, punters and adventurers are not of some long-gone past, but of the moment. His odd-angled cadences and inflections, both with his masterful guitar work and in his naturale singing approach remain to this day instantly recognizable. At the time of this album he was a pioneer whose impact (Bob Dylan took Carthy's version of "Lord Franklin" as the basis for "Bob Dylan's Dream" and he taught Paul Simon "Scarborough Fair") far outstripped his own modest fame. Highlights of this album include the pastoral "Brigg Fair," the morose "Lucy Wan" and one of several crucial Topic versions of "John Barleycorn."