Traditional and contemporary folk from the British Isles


The Voice Of The People


The first TWENTY volumes : TSCD651-670

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“My favourite sit-down-and-listen records”
Norma Waterson

This series makes available nearly 500 recordings of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh traditional music drawn from the archives of Topic Records and from private collections.

Compiled as thematic anthologies, each volume stands on its own, but the series as a whole presents an extensive and varied picture of traditional singing, instrumental music-making and dancing throughout the course of the 20th century. Many of the singers and musicians and their recorded performances presented here are classic, but the inclusion of some less well-known performers and genres broadens the horizon by offering glimpses at some little-known nooks and crannies of traditional music-making. This is the home-spun art and entertainment that enriched the lives of working people in pubs and cottages, in social clubs and village halls and on the street, and was made, in the words of one of the musicians in the series, “by people with dirt under their finger nails.”

Society has moved on, but the artistry of these singers and musicians and the emotional impact of their performances are timeless. The timbres and textures of the language and musical expression, the performance skills and techniques, the social values contained in both the material and the performers’ life stories, and the subtleties of meaning in the song texts could easily be lost sight of forever. The cultural voices of these farm workers and men on the buildings, the housewives, the shepherds and cowmen, the gardeners and estate workers, the miners and trawlermen, the dealers in scrap, the country policeman and the village postman, the chambermaid and the hospital nurse are therefore worthy of serious and prolonged attention. Their singing and music-making have made a striking and significant contribution to the cultural roots of these islands.

Best known as a dance musician, Reg Hall is a visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex and, in compiling and annotating this series, he has called on the experience of a long, personal involvement with traditional music-making and an academic historian’s view of its history and social context. His commentary pays tribute to the pioneer pen-and-paper folk-song-collectors of the Edwardian era and to those professionals in the early post-war years equipped with tape recorders. The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of a small number of enthusiasts, both professional and amateur, who recorded traditional music and broke new ground in discovery and evaluation, and this series owes a great deal to their creative efforts and co-operation.

Ever a critic of the concepts of ‘folk-song’ and ‘folk-dance’, Reg Hall challenges the ground rules of both movements and directs the emphasis in this presentation towards the lives of the performers and the communities and circumstances in which they performed. The songs and dance music had meaning and purpose for the singers and musicians, and the exploration of those realities, as far as we are able to understand them, is far more exciting than perpetuating the myths.

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Drawn from recordings made during the 1950s and 60s these four volumes capture the music making of working people. This is the home-spun art and entertainment that enriched the lives of working people in pubs and cottages, in social clubs and village halls and on the street, and was made “by people with dirt under their finger nails.” This is music that has been largely ignored by the vagaries of the commercial recording industry. The emphasis in the presentation of this series has been weighted towards the social lives and values of the performers.

Series Editor Reg Hall has chosen individual experts to select and compile these four volumes – Shirley Collins, Steve Roud and Rod Stradling.

TSCD671 YOU NEVER HEARD SO SWEET : Songs by Southern English Traditional Singers.
Selected and presented by Shirley Collins from classic recordings made in the 1950s by Peter Kennedy and Bob Copper
TSCD672D I’M A ROMANY RAI : Songs by Southern English Gypsy Traditional Singers.

Selected and presented by Shirley Collins from classic recordings made in the 1950s by Peter Kennedy
TSCD673T  GOOD PEOPLE, TAKE WARNING : Ballads by British and Irish Traditional Singers.
Selected and presented by Steve Roud from classic recordings made in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s
TSCD674  SARAH MAKEM : The Heart Is True

Classic recordings of this important Northern Irish Traditional singer selected and presented by Rod Stradling

“Topic’s original 20-volume The Voice Of The People series in 1998 provided a plethora of superb material for UK folk’s productive new wave to gorge on. Now, courtesy of another goldmine of 1950s field recordings salvaged largely from the late collector Peter Kennedy’s archive, Reg Hall, Shirley Collins, Steve Roud and Rod Stradling have compiled a cracking new series with detailed, illuminating booklets shining a revelatory light on Britain and Ireland’s ‘old music’. Hopefully it will inspire future generations… Magnificent” ★★★★ Colin Irwin, MOJO

“The Voice Of The People is the most important and rewarding series of British folk song recordings ever issued.” fRoots Magazine

★★★★★ Songlines    ★★★★★ Record Collector   ★★★★ Q   ★★★★ MOJO



TOPIC Records are very proud to announce the release of four further volumes in the widely acclaimed The Voice of the People series:

TSCD675 – “Good humour for the rest of the night” Traditional Dance Music in Northumberland and Cumberland

TSCD676D The Barley Mow Field recordings and a film made in Suffolk in the 1950s (CD and DVD set)

TSCD677T The Flax In Bloom Traditional songs, airs and dance music in Ulster (3CD set)

TSCD678Orkney Traditional dance music from Orkney

Continuing Topic Records’ widely-acclaimed and seminal traditional music series, Series Editor Reg Hall has selected for the latest four volumes a range of music from the astonishing collection of field recordings made by Peter Kennedy; working part-time for the BBC and the EFDSS, Peter continued with his own recording projects, sometimes collaborating, with Seamus Ennis at the BBC, Alan Lomax and in Ulster with Sean O’Boyle, their work together presented in the third of this new set of CDs.

The geographical spread covered in these four new volumes illustrates the lengths Peter would go to in order to discover the traditional music and dance of the British Isles, and his passion in bringing these to a wider community outside the working rural communities of the people he recorded; Peter’s aim, presenting the voice of the people, is recognised and acknowledged with this essential addition of four stunning new titles to an invaluable catalogue.



Reg Hall’s monumental and comprehensive history of Irish music in London
A Few Tunes of Good Music
is now available for free viewing and download as a fantastic online flipbook, complete with many illustrations, discography and original interview material.

book jacket web Reg Hall

On March 18th 2016 Topic Records released two magnificent compendiums of Irish Music in London:

TSCD679T “It was mighty!” ~ The Early Days
TSCD680T “It was great altogether!” ~ The Continuing Tradition

TSCD679T pack shot TSCD680T pack shot

Some of the most talented young traditional musicians from rural Ireland found themselves in London in the 1950s, working on the buildings and in heavy construction, away from home, but among hundreds of people like themselves. Music was played in pubs and dance halls and, for a decade or two almost every night of the week, Camden Town, Fulham and neighbouring boroughs were buzzing. Even as far as the outer suburbs, in some back-street pub or other, there was great music to be found, that is, if you knew where to look for it. Beyond the gaze of mainstream society and unknown to the media, promotion was solely by word of mouth among the Irish themselves.

As a lad in Roscommon in the 1930s, Jim Donahue played the flute regularly with an older man, Michael Coleman’s brother Jim. He recalled whenever Jim came to the house: “He’d take down the fiddle. Then you’d hear a few tunes of good music altogether!”

Compiled by Dr. Reg Hall, these two three-CD collections of rare recordings allow us a very privileged view of a unique community who lived this music. Here are some great musicians, some great tunes, and great warmth and humanity. At the time, it was often said, that there was much better Irish music to be heard in London than in Ireland. An overstatement, of course, but there was certainly more of it to be heard in London than anywhere else in the world.

Special offer: purchase both volumes together for only £28.00 +P&P

Order Two 3CD sets TSCD679T & TSCD680T PURCHASE @ £28.00

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