Traditional and contemporary folk from the British Isles


Martin Simpson on the Folk On Foot podcast

Folk On FootFor the latest episode of the award winning Folk On Foot podcast, Martin Simpson talks to Matthew Bannister about his childhood haunts in Scunthorpe and much more.

Listen to the full podcast now on the Folk On Foot website, iTunes / Apple Podcasts, Spotify and PodBean.

Martin Simpson’s new album, Rooted, is released on 30th August 2019 and available to pre-order now.

Martin Simpson – Rooted

Martin Simpson - RootedSinger, songwriter and guitar virtuoso Martin Simpson will release his brand new studio album Rooted on August 30. Produced by Andy Bell and recorded in Sheffield and Oxfordshire, Rooted will be available on CD, LP and digital with the deluxe 2CD and deluxe digital versions including a bonus disc of instrumentals, Seeded.

Summing up the themes of his new album, Martin says: “The music and songs embrace nature and travel, mental health, real life stories, loss, politics and history… and the threads that bind all this together can be followed back a long way, to 1965 when I got my first guitar and started to soak up material and ideas at a very rapid rate.”

Rooted features an array of stellar guest musicians, including Nancy Kerr (fiddle and viola), Andy Cutting (melodeon and diatonic accordion), Liz Hanks (cello), John Smith (electric guitar and vocals), Ben Nicholls (string bass and electric bass guitar), Julie Matthews (vocals), Alan Barnes (clarinet), Max Simpson (vocals), Amy Smith (vocals), Chris While (vocals) and Tom A Wright (drums and percussion). Richard Hawley and Dom Flemons contribute backing vocals and bones respectively to first single ‘Neo’ (out 21st June). As well as vocals, Martin himself plays banjola, 5-string banjo, 6-string fretless banjo, electric bass guitar and electric and resonator guitars!

Martin will tour extensively in support of Rooted. See full dates here.


Rooted track listing:
1. Trouble Brought Me Here
2. Kimbie
3. Born Human
4. Ken Small
5. Hills Of Shiloh
6. Henry Gray
7. Who’s Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot?
8. Queen Jane
9. Joe Bowers
10. Fool Me Once
11. Kingfisher
12. Neo
13. More Than Enough

Seeded track listing (bonus disc with deluxe CD and deluxe digital albums):
1. Arbutus Turnaround
2. A Blues
3. Bonny Kate
4. Mama, It Ain’t Long
5. Queen Jane (instrumental)
6. Waenglapiau
7. Who’s Going To Show Your Pretty Little Foot? (instrumental)

Hand in hand with his long and storied solo career, Martin has been central to seminal collaborations like The Full English, The Elizabethan Sessions and Simpson Cutting Kerr. He has worked with a dazzling range of artists from across the musical spectrum: Jackson Browne, Martin Taylor, June Tabor, Richard Hawley, Bonnie Raitt, Danny Thompson, David Hidalgo, Danú, Richard Thompson and Dom Flemons, to mention a few. He is consistently named as one of the very finest acoustic, fingerstyle and slide guitar players in the world and is the most nominated musician in the history of the BBC Folk Awards, with a remarkable 31 nods. A true master of his art.

An Introduction to Nic Jones

The 14th release in Topic’s acclaimed ‘An Introduction To…’ series celebrates the classic English folk singer, fingerstyle guitarist and fiddle player, Nic Jones. Compiled by Nic himself, the album includes sleeve notes by Colin Irwin (fRoots/The Guardian) and two previously unreleased 2013 studio tracks, ‘Now’ and ‘I Only Spoke Portuguese.’

An Introduction to Nic JonesNic Jones – An Introduction to Nic Jones

Nic Jones has won awards galore, has made some fantastic albums and played with the likes of June Tabor, Martin Carthy, Richard and Linda Thompson, Peter Bellamy and Shirley Collins to name but a few. There is no doubt he would have made even more fantastic music had it not been for a tragic car crash that robbed this world of his magic touch. 1980 saw the release of his classic album Penguin Eggs on Topic Records but less than two years later, fate took a disastrous turn. After a gig and while traveling home his car collided head-on with a brick lorry. Virtually every bone in his body was broken. The shock waves reverberated around the entire folk world. The battle to rebuild his body and his life was long and tortuous. He would never play again, that was for sure.

Except. Except, eventually – well, almost thirty years eventually – he did.
Coerced, encouraged, protected and inspired by his remarkable wife Julia, he was able to put the pieces back together again. First lured to play a few festivals and then in 2013 with the help of his son Joe Jones and Belinda O’Hooley, record a few new studio tracks, two of which appear on this release for the first time.

Nic insisted on compiling this introduction to his work, a mix of material from the Topics classic Penguin Eggs and Game Set Match albums, tracks included are ‘Humpback Whale’, ‘Seven Yellow Gypsies’, ‘Dives of Lazarus’ as well as the magical never released before 2013 studio recordings of ‘I Only Speak Portuguese’ and ‘Now.’
I think it’s best to have Nic have the last word.

“I think this selection of tracks represents very well my working repertoire during the years I was a professional performer. In music, I have always liked stories, encapsulated in a rhythmic way. I have enjoyed the visions, true or false, black or white, philosophical or emotional, played to the best on my old guitar… So here are a few of those songs that will take you all around the world and, hopefully, set your own visions alight”Nic Jones January 2019

Buy, download or listen to An Introduction to Nic Jones


Vision & Revision: The First 80 Years of Topic Records

Vision & Revision: The First 80 Years of Topic Records2019 marks the 80th birthday of Topic Records, the oldest independent record label in the world. As part of its celebrations, on 31st May 2019, we’ll be releasing a landmark album, ‘Vision & Revision : The first 80 years of Topic Records’ – a deluxe double CD and vinyl of the cream of British folk artists interpreting a song of their choice from Topic’s vast back catalogue – the only stipulation being that the song was at some time released on Topic. Includes never-before-released tracks by Martin Simpson, Richard Thompson, Lankum, Peggy Seeger, John Smith, Sam Lee, Martin Carthy, Olivia Chaney, Lisa O’Neill, Oysterband, Nancy Kerr, Chris Wood, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Lisa Knapp, Kitty Macfarlane, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, Emily Portman & Rob Harbron, Rachael McShane & The Cartographers, Eliza Carthy & Olivia Chaney and The Oldham Tinkers.

‘Vision & Revision’ is a unique celebration of folk music, as a crop of contemporary artists delve into Topic’s treasure chest, pull out all manner and variety of ballads and broadsides and breathe new life into them.

“An impressive homage from some of the current folk scene’s finest honouring the label’s rich legacy. This has a beating heart full of love and conviction”MOJO ★★★★

Buy / Listen / Download

Tracklisting : 1. Martin Simpson – Beaulampkin 2. Peggy Seeger – Jack Frost 3. John Smith – She Moves Through The Fair 4. Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – The Banks Of The Sweet Primroses 5. Oysterband – Seven Gypsies 6. Nancy Kerr – Searching For Lambs 7. Sam Lee – The Deserter 8. Kitty Macfarlane – Go Your Way 9. Lisa O’Neill – As I Roved Out 10. Chris Wood – Fable Of The Wings 11. The Oldham Tinkers – Dirty Old Town 12. Rachael McShane & The Cartographers – Workers’ Song 13. Richard Thompson – The Light Bob’s Lassie 14. Olivia Chaney – Polly Vaughan 15. Martin Carthy – Napoleon’s Dream 16. Lisa Knapp – I Wish My Love Was a Cherry 17. Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys – Shawnee Town 18. Emily Portman & Rob Harbron – Bay Of Biscay 19. Eliza Carthy & Olivia Chaney – Nancy Of Yarmouth 20. Lankum – The Sea Captain

Topic Treasures

Deluxe CD re-issues of classic Topic albums with original artwork, expanded sleeve notes, unseen photos and bonus tracks.

22nd March 2019 will see the release of the first three titles in the all-new Topic Treasures series. Beautiful deluxe CD re-issues of classic Topic albums with expanded sleeve notes, bonus material and unseen photographs.

Martin Simpson - Prodigal SonMartin Simpson – Prodigal Son

Considered by many in the folk world as one of Martin Simpsons finest albums, Topic are proud to present here in their 80th year the first release on the Topic Treasures imprint, deluxe issues of classic Topic albums from the label. Prodigal Son, the classic album in all its glory along with a bonus disc of live tracks hand-picked by Martin Simpson himself.

Originally released in 2007, the album was hailed a classic, receiving 4- and 5-star reviews in such publications as The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Daily Express and Observer while Folk publications such as fRoots raved about its wonderment!

Tracks like ‘Duncan & Brady’ an American ballad originally recorded by Leadbelly and ‘Good Morning Mr. Railroad Man’ clearly indicate Martin Simpsons love for traditional American roots music and the wonderful cover of Randy Newman’s track ‘Louisiana 1927’ delve into historical event territory.

One of the stand out tracks if there is such a thing on this album of quality is ‘Never Any Good’ a song about Father and Son relationship, stands out as the shining star. In truth the whole album is a true tour de force and a beautiful body of work from one of the greatest guitar players in the world.

The bonus disc 2 features 9 live tracks recorded at the Union Chapel in Islington, London on 13th November 2007 and features Andy Cutting, Andy Seward and Kellie While in Martin Simpsons band for the gig. Tracks such as ‘Duncan and Brady’, ‘Never Any Good’ and ‘Good Morning Mr Railroad Man’ are played with such beauty and style.

Buy, download or listen to Prodigal Son


Anne BriggsAnne Briggs

A long overdue reissue of the classic first album from Anne Briggs on Topic. Widely regarded as a long-lost treasure and recorded in 1971 by Sean Davies and featuring Johnny Moynihan from Sweeny’s Men on bouzouki.

Anne Briggs began singing in local folk clubs in her teens. In 1962 she became part of the Centre 42 tour which was a leftist group of artists, writers, actors and musicians whose aim was to make arts and culture accessible to the masses. Ewan MacColl first heard Briggs’ remarkable voice and persuaded her to join the group and tour. There Briggs met MacColl’s comrade A.L. ‘Bert’ Lloyd who became her mentor.

Briggs debut EP, The Hazards Of Love, was produced by Lloyd. Lloyd also recorded Briggs for Topic released albums The Iron Muse and The Bird In The Bush.

In 1971 Anne Briggs recorded this, her debut full length album simply named Anne Briggs with Johnny Moynihan of Sweeny’s Men appearing on one track. Tracks include ‘Blackwater Side’, ‘The Snow It melts The Soonest’ and ‘Go Your Way (My Love)’.

Famously, Briggs taught Bert Jansch the song ‘Blackwater Side’, which he recorded on his classic 1965 debut album; the next year his pivotal traditional album Jack Orion largely comprised songs he learnt from Briggs who helped him understand the structure of folk song. Briggs and Jansch also wrote a handful of songs together. ‘Go Your Way’ being one of them.

Briggs went onto recorded a follow up album The Time Has Come later that same year for CBS. Two years later she recorded again but blocked the album’s release because she was so disheartened by her singing and retired from the limelight only to resurface in the mid 90’s to perform with Bert Jansch for a TV documentary.

Buy, download or listen to Anne Briggs


Shirley Collins - The Sweet PrimerosesShirley Collins – The Sweet Primeroses

Topic Records are proud to present the Shirley Collins album The Sweet Primeroses plus bonus material by way of the Heroes Of Love Topic EP with sleeve notes by Colin Irwin and photos by Brian Shuel and packaged with the original album artwork.

During the 1960s and 70s Shirley Collins was regarded by many as the first lady of folk music, the subsequent decades have only served to enhance that reputation. Between 1955 and 1978 she recorded for the Folkways, Argo, Harvest and Topic labels. After the release of ‘For As Many As Will’ in 1978 she withdrew from performing and the music world after developing dysphonia. Shirley recently returned to recording after a very long hiatus and is still widely acknowledged as one of the finest singers and ambassadors to have emerged during the Folksong Revival of the 1960s.

Few singers of the English folk revival have attempted as much on record as Collins – an extraordinary combination of fragility and power. “I like music to be fairly straightforward, simply embellished – the performance without histrionics allowing you to think about the song rather than telling you what to think.” Through an impressive series of experimental recordings Shirley established an extraordinarily sympathetic marriage of traditional songs handed down through generations of rural labouring people with ground breaking contemporary arrangements – recordings that have scarcely been equalled in subsequent decades.

Buy, download or listen to The Sweet Primeroses


June Tabor’s Airs and Graces follows the first three Topic Treasures releases on the 26th April.

June Tabor - Airs and GracesJune Tabor – Airs and Graces

For four decades and more since that day in 1976 when June Tabor ventured into Sound Techniques – a small barn in Fulham converted into a recording studio – to make her very first solo album, she’s been consistently revered, not just in folk music circles, but many realms beyond.

With a voice of rarefied beauty, a subtly emotive and imaginative delivery and an unerring ear for a song to make us cry, laugh, get angry, be sad and think a lot, she holds a special place in the hearts of all who crave more of music than the superficial gloss in which we usually find it wrapped, sealed and delivered.

Airs and Graces features 10 beautifully recorded tracks featuring Folk legends Nic Jones on guitar and fiddle and John Gillaspie playing piano, organ, roxichord, bassoon and sopranino recorder! This classic first solo album by June was a long time coming but was well worth the wait. This beautiful Topic Records Deluxe issue includes 4 bonus tracks hand-picked by June herself along with an introduction and notes by June and respected Folk journalist Colin Irwin.

Tracks include While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping, Bonny May, Reynardine and the Eric Bogle classic The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. This track stopped people in their tracks, routinely reduced audiences to tears and went on to have a colourful and slightly bizarre life of its own. The June Tabor version remains one of the most telling and emotive anti-war statements ever.

Buy, download or listen to Airs and Graces


Dick Gaughan’s Handful of Earth (Topic Treasures edition) is released on 17th May.

Dick Gaughan - Handful of EarthDick Gaughan – Handful of Earth

Although originally released in November 1981, time has been good to ‘Handful Of Earth.’ The passage of the years has done little to erode its magisterial strength and potency as a milestone within traditional music – one that quickly established Dick Gaughan as one of the most passionate and fiercely political British folk singers. Greatly inspired by the political turmoil in Scotland following the Conservative Party victory at the 1979 general election, the album was also Gaughan’s first after spending several years largely avoiding playing music while regaining his health following a mental breakdown in 1979.

Instantly recognised as a masterwork straightaway (a Melody Maker magazine album of the year), over the course of the decade, panegyrics and plaudits proliferated – Folk Roots’ (now fRoots) readers and critics voting it the album of the decade in 1989. In terms of influence, Handful Of Earth is up there with the select pantheon of The Watersons’ Frost and Fire, Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick’s Prince Heathen, Nic Jones’ Penguin Eggs and June Tabor & Martin Simpson’s A Cut Above. Amongst its legions of fans, Billy Bragg and comedian/writer Stewart Lee cite it as one of their favourite albums ever.

‘Handful Of Earth’ contains a quiver of traditional and contemporary songs – Robert Burns’ lyrical, ‘Now Westlin Winds,’ the feisty ‘Erin Go Bragh,’ Phil & June Colclough’s evocative, ‘Song For Ireland’ and his own reworking of the traditional ‘Both Sides The Tweed,’ which calls for Scottish independence without sacrificing friendship with the rest of the UK (as topical now as it ever was).

Gaughan’s fifth solo studio LP and his third for Topic, with Mick Campbell’s apposite cover portrait of our man in black against the backdrop of an industrial/agricultural landscape, was clearly a classic from the start. The label’s original press release, written by head honcho, Tony Engle, began :”With his new record, Dick Gaughan has surpassed himself. I’ve always had great respect for Dick, and admired all his records, but Handful of Earth puts him on a new and even higher level. I think it’s the most powerful and inventive record he’s ever made.” Engle goes even further : “This is a record that actually advances music.”

Buy, download or listen to Handful of Earth


John Tams’ – The Reckoning (Topic Treasures edition) is released on 5th July.

John Tams - The ReckoningJohn Tams – The Reckoning

Deluxe reissue of the award-winning Topic album / 3 bonus tracks, 2 previously unreleased / 28 page booklet with new sleeve notes by acclaimed journalist Mick Houghton / New intro by John Tams

By definition “re-issues” are “a thing of the past” not so for “The Reckoning” more a thing of the present if not the future. With three additional “postscript” tracks, an entity within themselves, the whole of this multi-award winning album’s timeless quality continues to challenge preconceptions and genre stereotyping. There’s enough contained to warrant inclusion in any record collection such is the breadth of style and song-making.

The third of his critically acclaimed solo albums, “The Reckoning” was released in 2005 winning three of the coveted BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for Best Album, Best Traditional Track (The Bitter Withy) and Folk singer of the Year.

MOJO describes him as “One of the ultimate British songwriters.”

The album is a masterful collection of traditional and self-composed songs including a spellbinding revision of “The Bitter Withy,” a powerful re-making of “A Man Of Constant Sorrow” and a magnificent song-cycle dedicated to “The Sea.”

Mick Houghton writes: “he remains all too often uncited as a significant player in bringing folk music to a wider audience across all platforms, now a ubiquitous component in the performing arts.”

Film, television, radio and the stage have played a vital role in his life both as actor and musician, Tams perhaps being best known for playing a regular character (opposite Sean Bean) in the ITV Sharpe Series, as Rifleman Daniel Hagman. He also co-wrote the score alongside Dominic Muldowney releasing “Over The Hills And Far Away” an album selling over 120,000 copies.

As a member of the original creative team he provided all the songs for War Horse at the National Theatre – now a multi-award winning global phenomenon seen by over 10 million people worldwide, the most watched production in the National Theatre history. He also worked personally with Steven Spielberg and John Williams on the movie version.

On July 5th, “The Reckoning” is re-issued; War Horse is playing in Hong Kong prior to Singapore and New Zealand and John is writing an audio autobiographical songbook “How To Build A Ghost” whilst continuing his commitments to theatre, the screen and the concert stage.

Buy, download or listen to The Reckoning


The Official Topic Records 2019 Calendar

Topic Calendar 2019Topic Records will be 80 years old in 2019 and we are starting to put together some special releases, events, concerts and merchandise to celebrate. Watch this space.

To start things off, Topic Records are happy to present an Official 2019 calendar.

A limited edition A3 size calendar, the first of its kind for Topic, includes classic photographs of Anne Briggs, Shirley and Dolly Collins, The Watersons, Eliza Carthy, Martin Simpson, Ewan and Peggy MacColl, Davy Graham and June Tabor to name a few.

Photographs used in the calendar were taken by Brian Shuel, Tom Howard, John Harrison and from the Peter Kennedy archive. The calendar also includes important Topic Records birthday information. Limited to 500 copies only worldwide, please head over to the Topic Shop and order your copy now.

Rachael McShane & The Cartographers – When All Is Still

Rachael McShane & The Cartographers - When All Is StillTopic Records is delighted to announce the signing of Rachael McShane & The Cartographers. Rachael is probably best known as not only as string player/singer for the mighty Bellowhead but also a leading voice in The Transports (alongside The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr, Greg Russell and Matthew Crampton).

Her brand new album, When All Is Still (her first since 2009’s ‘No Man’s Fool’), sees her reworking traditional songs with a new band, The Cartographers, featuring guitarist Matthew Ord (Assembly Lane) and melodeon player Julian Sutton (Kathryn Tickell, Sting).

When All Is Still is available now from Topic, Propermusic, Amazon, Spotify, iTunes and all good record stores.

Listen to the first track, The Molecatcher, from the new album here.

Listen on Apple Music

Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy with the Gift Band – Anchor

Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy with the Gift BandAs two of the UK’s finest exponents of traditional song, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy’s rich, distinctive and authentic voices have engaged new audiences and admirers across two generations. Between them, they have three prestigious Mercury Prize nominations, an MBE each for services to English music and have both been presented with BBC Folk Singer of the Year awards, as well as innumerable other accolades. Eliza recently embarked on her most ambitious project yet by recording and touring with The Wayward Band, a 12-piece adventure. The resulting album, ‘Big Machine,’ garnered both acclaim and chart placings and the big band have quickly become festival favourites.

Although they have recorded independently and together on many occasions over the years, ‘Gift’ (2010) was Norma and Eliza’s first duo release, produced by Eliza. The album went on to win Best Album and Best Traditional Track at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

The remarkable new album, ‘Anchor,’ produced by Neill MacColl and Kate St. John, was recorded in their home town of Robin Hood’s Bay and features an eclectic and beguiling collection of both traditional and contemporary songs. Amongst the 11 tracks we find Norma leading on Tom Waits’ ‘Strange Weather’ and ‘The Beast in Me’ by Nick Lowe. Trad Arr. ‘The Elfin Knight’ sees Eliza supported by Norma, Martin and extended family, ‘Lost in the Stars’ is a wonderful take on the Kurt Weill classic, while ‘Shanty of the Whale’, also featuring guest vocals of Martin Carthy, is a track written by KT Tunstall inspired by the singing of the Watersons, now come full circle in mutual respect and admiration.

The songs represented on this album all recall influences and cherished friends of the extended Waterson/Carthy family, from New Mexican friends Bayou Seco and the Irish traditional singer Margaret Barry to legendary American ballad singer Helen Schneyer; not to mention the MacColl/Seeger family themselves who are represented in The Elfin Night, a song collected by Ewan and Peggy in the 1950s. The album title ‘Anchor,’ comes from a sailor’s hymn that would have been sung in the Congo chapel itself, even possibly played on the very organ you hear on the recording. It represents being rooted in love and family whatever may occur, which is what this family has always been about.

No matter what the origin, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy bring songs to life with their great musicality and wonderfully compassionate voices in a way that perhaps only this mother and daughter can.

Available now from Topic, Propermusic, Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, HMV and all good music retailers.

Listen on Apple Music

An Introduction to June Tabor & An Introduction to Anne Briggs

The second two releases in our Introduction series are available now

An Introduction to June TaborAn Introduction to June Tabor (TICD003)
An introduction to the magical work of June Tabor. Covering songs from her many record releases on the Topic Record label between 1976 to 2011. June Tabor is quiet simply one of Britain’s greatest interpreters of popular Folk song and has been described by Elvis Costello as ‘The great voice of English folk music’.

Available now from the Topic Shop,, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and all good music retailers.

Track list: 1. While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping / 2. The Band Played Waltzing Matilda / 3. The Devil and Bailiff McGlynn / 4. No Man’s Land / Flowers of The Forest / 5. Unicorns / 6. The Scarecrow / 7. Aqaba / 8. Hedger And Ditcher / 9. Shallow Brown / 10. A Place Called England / 11. Maybe Then I’ll Be A Rose / 12. Oh! Alas, I Am In Love / 13. The Rigs Of Rye / 14. Finisterre / 15. The Dark End Of The Street

An Introduction to Anne BriggsAn Introduction to Anne Briggs (TICD004)
An introduction to the magical work of Anne Briggs. Tracks include early recordings featured on albums ‘The Iron Muse’ and ‘The Bird In The Bush’ as well as material from her Hazards of Love E.P. and stunning solo album simply titled Anne Briggs. There is also the inclusion of tracks from her long-lost album ‘Sing A Song For You’.

Available now from the Topic Shop,, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and all good music retailers.

Track list: 1. The Recruited Collier / 2. The Doffing Mistress / 3. Polly Vaughan / 4. Rosemary Lane / 5. Gathering Rushes In The Month Of May / 6. The Stonecutter Boy / 7. Blackwater Side / 8. Go Your Way (My Love) / 9. The Cuckoo / 10. Reynardine / 11. Young Tambling / 12. Maa Bonny Boy / 13. Sing A Song For You / 14. The Bonambuie / 15. Tongue In Cheek

An Introduction to Shirley Collins & Topic Records – The Real Sound of Folk Music

Topic Introducing

October 20th see’s two new catalogue releases from Topic Records, An Introduction to Shirley Collins and a Topic Records compilation titled The Real Sound of Folk Music.

An Introduction to Shirley Collins – CD (TICD002) and Vinyl (VIN180LP126)
Few singers of the English folk revival have attempted as much on record as Collins – an extraordinary combination of fragility and power. “I like music to be fairly straightforward, simply embellished – the performance without histrionics allowing you to think about the song rather than telling you what to think.”

Through an impressive series of experimental recordings Shirley established an extraordinarily sympathetic marriage of traditional songs handed down through generations of rural labouring people with ground breaking contemporary arrangements – recordings that have scarcely been equalled in subsequent decades. This collection of songs draws together some of her most iconic recordings and will serve as an Introduction to her very special catalogue of music.

Available now from:
The Topic Shop, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and all good record shops.

Topic Records – The Real Sound of Folk Music – 2CD (TICD001) and Vinyl (VIN180LP125)
The perfect introduction to Topic Records the worlds oldest surviving independent record label, The Real Sound of Folk Music is a 2CD set featuring 28 specially selected tracks from the labels vast catalogue.

The story of Topic is synonymous with the growth of folk as a musical and social movement in Britain and these recordings demonstrate the bridge between modern music and a traditional art form. On this 2CD set you will find some of the most remarkable singers, songs and tunes – either drawn directly from the tradition or inspired by it.

Many of the tracks deal with social issues of the time and there are also re-workings of great traditional story songs like Anne Briggs’ ‘Blackwater Side’, Mike Watersons’ ‘Tamlyn’, Nic Jones’ ‘Canadee-i-o’ and majestic performances by Martin Simpson, Shirley Collins, Davy Graham, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy and The Watersons. Topic also offers up June Tabor and Oysterband cover version of Joy Divisions classic Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Pentangle, Andrew Cronshaw, Brass Monkey, Vin Garbutt, Johnny Handle, Bill Caddick, The Cheviot Ranters, Cilla Fisher and Artie Tresize, Silly Sisters, Tim Van Eyken, Peter Bellamy and Oak, the list goes on, a fulfilling and haunting introduction to the great legacy of the folk tradition and Topic Records.

Available now from:
The Topic Shop, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and all good record shops.

Martin Simpson – Trails & Tribulations

Martin Simpson - Trails & Tribulations

World renowned guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson releases his 20th solo album in 40 years ‘Trails & Tribulations’ on September 1st 2017 via Topic Records. The brand-new studio album, his first new solo work since 2013’s widely praised ‘Vagrant Stanzas’, will be available in standard and deluxe CD, digital download and standard vinyl (the latter through Vinyl 180).

“‘Trails & Tribulations’ is a collection of songs about nature, about travels and about real life stories. There are traditional songs, poems and contemporary songs by great writers, and songs that I had to write because nobody else knew what I wanted to say. I travel, I learn songs, I write and try to get better at the skills required for me to do my job. I look at the world as I pass by, on the road, out of the train window, or as I stop and pay close attention to the square foot under my nose. There is so much to see and to hear and to inspire and to try and understand. I had a huge amount of fun playing and recording these songs, using different instruments, different noises, old friends and new ones, all of whom brought so much to the mix.”
Martin Simpson, April 2017.

Produced and engineered by Andy Bell, ‘Trails & Tribulations’ features some of Martin’s most inventive playing yet, showcasing his virtuosity on a variety of instruments including acoustic guitars, resonator guitars, Weissenbown lap steel guitar, electric guitars, 5 string banjo, ukulele – and voice.

Guest musicians on the new album are: Ben Nicholls (string bass and electric bass guitars), Toby Kearney (drums and percussion), Nancy Kerr (fiddle and viola), Andy Cutting (diatonic accordion and melodeon), John Smith (electric guitar and backing vocals), Helen Bell (strings), Amy Newhouse-Smith (backing vocals) and his daughter Molly Simpson on vocals.

Martin will tour extensively this year, including a headline set at Cambridge Folk Festival in the summer and London’s Kings Place in autumn, following the release of ‘Trails & Tribulations’. Hand in hand with his long and storied solo career, Martin has been central to seminal collaborations like The Full English, The Elizabethan Sessions and Simpson Cutting Kerr. He has worked with a dazzling array of artists from across the musical spectrum: Jackson Browne, Martin Taylor, June Tabor, Richard Hawley, Bonnie Raitt, Danny Thompson, David Hidalgo, Danú, Richard Thompson and Dom Flemons, to mention a few. He is consistently named as one of the very finest acoustic, fingerstyle and slide guitar players in the world and is the most nominated musician in the history of the BBC Folk Awards, with a remarkable 31 nods. A true master of his art.

Exclusive versions of Trails & Tribulations, which include a signed print of a handwritten guitar tab, plus Trails & Tribulations branded guitar pick are available now from Martin’s shop.

You can also buy from Amazon, iTunes and all good record shops, the album is also available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music

Trails & Tribulations tracklisting (standard edition):
1. Blues Run The Game
2. Bones & Feathers
3. Thomas Drew
4. East Kentucky
5. Katherine Of Aragon Interlude
6. A Ballad For Katherine Of Aragon
7. Maps
8. St. James Hospital
9. Jasper’s/Dancing Shoes
10. Ridgeway
11. Rufford Park Poachers
12. Reynardine Interlude
13. Reynardine

Deluxe Edition CD2 Bonus Tracks:
1. Joshua Gone Barbados
2. Dillard Chandler
3. Willy O Winsbury
4. Heartbreak Hotel
5. Blues Run The Game Interlude
6. Blues Run The Game (Radio Edit)

Pentangle – Finale (Record Store Day Exclusive Triple Vinyl)

Pentangle - Finale

For this years Record Store Day (on the 22nd April) we’re releasing, in association with Vinyl 180, a beautiful 180g triple vinyl version of Pentangle’s Finale.

This Limited Edition pressing of 500 copies for Record Store Day, sees ‘Finale’ spread across three 180g vinyl discs. Packaged in newly designed inner bags and comes in two deluxe gatefold sleeves, the second sleeve holding the third disc and a original copy of the programme from the historic 2008 tour. Completing the set the sleeves are packaged in a Hardback Casebound Slipcase, making a truly magnificent collectors piece.

Respected music journalist and long time fan Peter Paphides provides a fascinating insight into the significance of these recordings by contributing sleeve notes specially commissioned for this 3LP set.

Finale was recorded live during the 2008 tour and sees the original line-up revisit their classic repertoire, a career retrospective for the halcyon years 1967-73.

Pushing the boundaries in many ways, history has acknowledged Pentangle as one of the most exciting and innovative combos in the folk world, who’s influences have been at the forefront of the folk-jazz scene. Eternally relevant and cutting edge, the like of which we are unlikely to see again.

The original version of Finale is also available now from:

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band Announce Big Machine Nov/Dec Tour

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band have announced their Big Machine tour which will see them playing 19 dates throughout the country in November and December. The tour will see them appearing at venues including London’s Union Chapel, the Town Hall in Birmingham, Saint Lukes in Glasgow and many more. Tickets are on sale this Friday, 3rd March at 10am.

Wed 29 – Wakefield Unity Works 01924 831114
Thu 30 – St Albans The Arena 01727 844488

Fri 1 – Crawley The Hawth 01293 553636
Sun 3 – Basingstoke The Anvil 01256 844244
Mon 4 – Gloucester Guildhall 01452 503050
Tue 5 – Yeovil Westlands 01935 422884
Wed 6 – Cardiff Tramshed 029 2023 5555
Fri 8 – Brighton St Georges Church 01273 279448
Sat 9 – Ashford St Marys Church 01233 663201
Sun 10 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms 023 9286 3911
Mon 11 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms 0115 828 3173
Wed 13 – Frome Cheese & Grain 01373 455420
Thu 14 – Bedford Corn Exchange 01234 718044
Fri 15 – Colchester Arts Centre 01206 500900
Sat 16 – London Union Chapel
Mon 18 – Birmingham Town Hall 0121 780 3333
Tue 19 – Glasgow Saint Lukes 0141 552 8378
Wed 20 – Manchester RNCM 0161 907 5555
Thu 21 – Bury St Edmunds The Apex 01284 758000

Big Machine, the debut album from Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band is available now from TOPIC SHOP, AMAZON, ITUNES and SPOTIFY

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band – Big Machine

Eliza Carthy & The Wayward BandPioneering English traditional folk powerhouse, Eliza Carthy, first assembled the Wayward Band in 2013 in order to explore and celebrate her long and varied career in folk music. To do this Eliza put together a team of hugely talented musicians from across the UK and together they hit the road to promote her “Best Of” compilation, ‘Wayward Daughter’ (Topic Records), which coincided with a biography of the same name. Eliza and the Wayward Band loved playing together so much – as well as becoming a festival favourite – that it seemed natural and inevitable, as well as characteristically ambitious, that this 12-piece would set about recording an album. The result is ‘Big Machine’, recorded at the renowned Real World and Rockfield Studios and produced by the multi-talented Jim Sutherland. The Wayward Band line-up is a veritable dream team of musicians comprising Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead), David Delarre (Mawkin), Barn Stradling (Blowzabella), Saul Rose, Beth Porter, Lucy Farrell (Emily Portman Trio), Will Molleson, Andrew Waite (Tyde), Laurence Hunt, Nick Malcolm and Adrien “Yen-Yen” Toulouse. ‘Big Machine’ (their debut album) will be released by Topic Records on 3rd February 2017.

The material on ‘Big Machine’ represents a healthy slice of everything good that is happening in traditional music now, across a sparkling spectrum of sound. The album features three contemporary songs; Eliza’s own “You Know Me” about the refugee crisis and notions of hospitality (featuring MC Dizraeli), a powerful cover of Ewan Maccoll’s Radio Ballad “The Fitter’s Song” (at the behest of Peggy Seeger – and the song which inspired the album title) and an affectionate reworking of “Hug You Like a Mountain” (Rory MacLeod), re-imagined here as a duet with Teddy Thompson.

There are also several examples of the Broadside ballad collections housed in Chetham’s Library in Manchester given a new twist with music by Eliza and the band. This follows a programme Eliza presented for BBC Radio 4 about the Manchester Ballads, covering everything from songs about and caused by domestic abuse (“Devil in the Woman”, the sumptuous and searing “Fade and Fall (Love Not)”, to the seafaring life in “The Sea”. Added to that a couple of brilliantly constructed instrumentals, a song about dying from custard poisoning and a heartbreaking traditional ballad “I Wish that the Wars were all Over” (performed live with the band onstage in Real World Studios’ Studio One and featuring Irish superstar Damien Dempsey), and you begin to get the picture. A very big picture, a Big Machine firing on all cylinders.

“Big Machine” is certainly one of Eliza Carthy’s most adventurous and accomplished works to date – and given that Eliza is the most passionate and groundbreaking English traditional singer of her generation, “Big Machine” is an album you really won’t want to miss.

BIG MACHINE is available now from:

“No quarter is spared in the pursuit of the grand gesture designed to sweep all before it in an exhausting whizz-bang barrage of sounds, ideas, technique and colour.”
fRoots (5 stars)

“an irresistible collection that amply demonstrates the vibrancy of today’s traditional music scene”
R2 (5 stars)

“This confident collection whips her characteristic fondness for adventure into ever grander and more colourful directions, aided by a 12-piece big band that includes urgent brass, searing guitar (Dave Delarre) and guest vocals from Teddy Thompson, Damien Dempsey and rapper MC Dizraeli..”
MOJO (4 stars)

“Big Band, big sound, big album, big machine. Bold, brassy and bendy, Eliza Carthy’s Big Machine is a monster of an album”
Songlines (4 stars)

New Internationalist Magazine

“Big Machine has all the hallmarks of a vastly important release, and should cement Eliza Carthy’s place as one of our most valuable musicians.”
Folk Radio UK

“Big Machine resets Carthy’s career as a big, big statement at a time of considerable turmoil and change. It is most welcome.”
The Arts Desk (4 stars)

“..Big Machine is grounded by Carthy’s voice. Her warm, intimate, earthy tone is perfectly suited to the material. In many ways this is Carthy’s album through and through. The first big hit of 2017.”
Bright Young Folk



In February 2007 the original members of PENTANGLE received a BBC Radio 2 Lifetime Achievement Award from Sir David Attenborough. On 29th June 2008, exactly 40 years since the recording of their monumental live album Sweet Child at the Royal Festival Hall, they returned to the very same venue to begin their first British tour since 1973.

FINALE was recorded live during the 2008 tour and sees the original line-up revisit their classic repertoire. The beautifully recorded and packaged 2CD set captures the band in a series of scintillating performances. Bert Jansch supervised the mixing and sequencing and John Renbourn prepared the album masters before their untimely deaths in 2011 and 2015 respectively.

“Finale is a magnificent record in all respects. Treasure this set, for we’ll not see the like of Pentangle again.”  David Kidman, FolkRadioUK

Track list:

CD one ~ 1 Let No Man Steal Your Thyme, 2 Light Flight, 3 Mirage, 4 Hunting Song, 5 Once I Had A Sweetheart, 6 Market Song, 7 In Time, 8 People On The Highway, 9 House Carpenter, 10 Cruel Sister.

CD two ~ 1 The Time Has Come, 2 Bruton Town, 3 A Maid That’s Deep In Love, 4 I’ve Got A Feeling, 5 The Snows, 6 Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, 7 No More My Lord, 8 Sally Free And Easy, 9 Wedding Dress, 10 Pentangling, 11 Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

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Reg Hall’s monumental and comprehensive history of Irish music in London A Few Tunes of Good Musicis 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.

Buy It Was Great Altogether now from:

Buy It Was Mighty now from:


IMG_4270S.C.K masthead

After a very successful tour and recording schedule over the last six months the wonderful new trio with Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr will release their debut album together on June 8th.

Murmurs was recorded in January this year and captures all the excitement of three master musicians having musical fun together. The album will appear on DL, CD and a limited edition Deluxe CD/DVD set. It’s a collection of songs that communicate to the listener a sense of bonded musicianship, a real feeling and empathy for each others’ playing and a collective love and innate understanding of the music. Recorded with award-winning producer Andy Bell, the combination of traditional songs, such as ‘Fair Rosamund’ and a stunning ‘Plains of Waterloo’, and original compositions, including ‘Dark Swift’ and ‘Not Even The Ground’ makes for a compelling listening experience; stories are told with instruments played by these masters of their respective crafts, but this is no showcase, more an expression of the joy of playing and singing between three absolutely intuitive musicians.

“It is so incredibly exciting. Andy and Nancy have been brilliant. The whole project is sheer joy!”

“Outrageously great album from Simpson∙Cutting∙Kerr. ‘Dark Swift & Bright Swallow’ is amazing. It’s stunning and beautiful. And timely. All things great folk should be.” Rob Cowen, author of ‘Common Ground’.

TSCD591Track list:
1   Dark Swift And Bright Swallows
2   Richmond Cotillion
3   Dark Honey
4   Fair Rosamund
5   Gather The Owls / Train On The Island
6   Toy Soldiers
7   The Cruel Mother
8   Seven Years
9   The Plains Of Waterloo
10  Lads Of Alnwick
11  Not Even The Ground / Two Ladies
12  Some Old Salty

Buy Murmurs now from






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Bob Books  2015012134_TTS3N5

We are very proud to have Bob Copper books in stock and for sale from this website.

A Song For Every Season – new CopperSongs reprint of Bob’s award-winning book.

A Man Of No Consequence – Bob Copper’s final book, CopperSongs’ posthumous publication.

The Copper Family Songbook – A beautiful reprint of the original 1995 publication.

Please follow the links for further details.

MARTIN & ELIZA CARTHY ~ The Moral of the Elephant TSCD587

UnknownSTOP PRESS: The Moral of the Elephant is nominated for Folk Album of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

The Award is decided by public vote, every vote counts and you can cast your vote by visiting the Folk Awards website before midnight on February 13th: cast your vote here

2014 fROOTS Critics Poll Album of the Year

It’s nearly 50 years since Martin Carthy recorded his iconic, eponymous first album and more than 20 years since his daughter Eliza Carthy’s recording debut. Throughout their respective careers both have toured and recorded with many others (Eliza shared the bill with her acclaimed mother, Norma Waterson, on their award-winning ‘Gift’ album in 2010) but finally, this trail-blazing dad and daughter have made their first ever duo album, The Moral of the Elephant which will be released on  Monday 2nd June 2014.

Two tracks were released on a 7″ vinyl single for Record Store Day 2014 – Happiness, which was written by Nick Drake’s Mum, Molly, is one of a number recorded at home by her in the 1950s and only recently unearthed. It’s the first time this wistful song has been covered by a major recording artist. Meanwhile, The Queen of Hearts is a new version of a song which Martin first recorded on his debut album in 1965.

“This album is coal, not fireworks. It burns with the slow, deep flame which is the mark of timelessness.” Stirrings

“This is a magnificent album, bridging the generation gap and reminding the listener just how vital and pertinent folk music can be.” Record Collector

The full album features 11 (mostly) traditional music tracks, including The Elephant, on which the title of the album is based. It’s an interpretation of a setting of the 19th poem by John Godfrey Saxe, which itself is an adaptation of an ancient Indian parable.

Produced by Oliver Knight with Martin and Eliza, the duo reinterpret and revisit a number of songs on this stunning new album.  Bonny Moorhen  is about a fight between starving lead miners and a gang representing the landowners. Martin learnt The Grand Conversation on Napoleon from the Vaughan Williams collection at Cecil Sharp House, the home of the English Folk Dance & Song Society. This was one of many songs by the English proclaiming their love of Napoleon who they hoped would rescue them from poverty. Monkey Hair is a song by late Michael Marra about a Scottish minister’s wife who doesn’t want any more children as her husband keeps sending them off to war to be killed. Fittingly, several of the songs on The Moral of the Elephant take the form of conversation between parent and child.

Track List :
Her Servant Man
Blackwell Merry Night
Queen Caraboo
Grand Conversation on Napoleon
The Elephant
Waking Dreams
Bonny Moorhen
The Queen of Hearts
Monkey Hair

Here’s a short video where Martin and Eliza describe making the album and the material recorded:

Buy The Moral of the Elephant now from:

ANNE BRIGGS : The Hazards of Love STOP2014

To celebrate Record Store Day  – April 19th 2014 – Topic Records released a 50th anniversary limited edition 7” vinyl facsimile of this historic early recording from Anne Briggs.

One of many jewels in Topic Record’s extensive catalogue, The Hazards Of Love EP has been an important touchstone for myriad singers, songwriters and performers – on a rare visit to London, June Tabor was bought a copy by her older sister: “She took me to Dobell’s and said she’d buy me a record. I got that Anne Briggs EP, Hazards of Love… I was captivated by this woman’s voice and what she did with it…”

The Hazards of Love became the calling card for Anne Briggs – one of the most influential figures in the English folk revival, with Bert Jansch, Jimmy Page, The Watersons and Sandy Denny all acknowledging that influence, and it continues years after its release, with The Decemberists 2009 album title directly taken from the EP which inspired it.

“…a brilliant singer, really brilliant, very natural.”  BERT JANSCH

We have endeavoured to faithfully match the original Topic EP sleeve with a leaflet of song notes by A.L. Lloyd inside a beautiful gloss-laminated limited edition flip-back sleeve.

1  Lowlands Away
2  My Bonny Boy
3  Polly Vaughan
4  Rosemary Lane

Buy The Hazards of Love now from:


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.

Buy Good Humour for the Rest of the Night now from:

Buy The Barley Mow now from:

Buy The Flax in Bloom now from:

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BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Winners!

A fabulous night at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards on February 19th included some stunning live music and resulted in well-deserved awards for all of the winners, including a Lifetime Achievement award for Martin Carthy and two headline awards for The Full English, named as Best Group and for Best Album.
Martin has been part of the bedrock of folk music for half a century, and continues to plough a fertile furrow – his new album with daughter Eliza will be released by Topic later this year.

Fay Hield has worked tirelessly to bring The Full English to glorious fruition, and Topic has been proud to be part of such an important project. The very best traditions of folk music are encompassed in The Full English, presented beautifully through the talents of the wonderful musicians involved,  Ben Nicholls, Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman, Rob Harbron, Sam Sweeney, Nancy Kerr and Fay Hield. Congratulations to them all!


LAL WATERSON ~ teach me to be a summer’s morning

Marry Waterson’s introduction to this collection of her Mum’s artistic creations begins: “Mum would really rather go without breakfast, dinner and tea than lose creative flow, living on coffee and Woodbines, her pen lagging behind her brain, refusing to pause to spell correctly through crossings out, torn pages, shopping lists and knitting patterns.” Lal Waterson is known primarily as a singer and songwriter, a member of the wonderful Watersons.

teach me to be a summer’s morning shows the full range of her creativity. The limited edition hardback book publishes, for the first time, a selection of her drawings, painting, lyrics, thoughts and poems to present a portrait of her extraordinary tender, intense, complex but ultimately very human artistic talents. ORDER your copy of teach me to be a summer’s morning from the Fledg’ling shop.

Here’s a little video opening the book for the first time and exploring the contents:

A CD is included inside the book – collecting together 15 songs drawn from her home recordings – serves to confirm her stature as a songwriter of rare imagination, depth and rich beauty. Just as teach me to be a summer’s morning was being prepared for printing and CD manufacture we finally tracked-down the original two reels of demo tapes from 1971 of the songs written for Bright Phoebus. Many of these songs have never been released previously, none have ever sounded so magnificent.

track list:
1 Never The Same
2 The Scarecrow
3 Evon Our Darling
4 May Butterfly
5 To Make You Stay
6 Marvellous Companion
7 Red Wine and Promises
8 Shine
9 Piper’s Way
10 Black Horse
11 Song For Thirza
12 Shady Lady
13 Once In A Blue Moon
14 Anna Dixie
15 Telephone Raider

teach me to be a summer’s morning was published in a limited edition of only 1500 copies on Monday 21st October. ORDER your copy of teach me to be a summer’s morning from the Fledg’ling shop.

LINDA THOMPSON ~ Won’t Be Long Now TSCD822

The arrival of a new recording from Linda Thompson is always a cause for celebration. That the new album is as good as Won’t Be Long Now is really quite remarkable.

Won’t Be Long Now – her first album in six years -  was recorded in the UK and America with a rich array of contributing musicians. While it’s undoubtedly a family affair, featuring a duet with former husband Richard Thompson, regular contributions from their children Teddy and Kami, and grandson Zak Hobbs, Won’t Be Long Now also reflects Linda’s folk beginnings. This new album includes appearances by many alumni of the British folk scene, including John Kirkpatrick, Dave Swarbrick, Martin and Eliza Carthy, as well as American musicians like David Mansfield, Amy Helm, Sam Amidon, Jenni Muldaur and Tony Trischka, among others.

Linda Thompson has an ancient voice, wilting, wounded and wise. She sings with the conviction of an eyewitness of thieves, beggars, drunks, street urchins and circus freaks, spurned lovers and murdering swine, centuries-gone. The album is perhaps best summed-up by these wise words from MOJO: “The cover image of Thompson’s back as she stares at the horizon across a flat sea precisely represents the bulk of Won’t Be Long Now’s 11 songs. Men leaving by sea, women waiting, deceived and disappointed. Beautifully sung, often bleak and harking back in sombre mood to 1974’s Withered And Died.”

“Longstanding dysphonia problems make any Linda Thompson sighting precious. The fact that, now substantially beyond the full flush of youth, she can still make an album that makes your heart wobble fretfully is extraordinary… Kleenex is a must” Colin Irwin, fRoots

“It’s apparent how undimmed Thompson’s talent is, especially in the sheer confident power of her vocal performance. Long may she continue.” Record Collector

…and in the opinion of those fine people at Uncut magazine: “Folk-rock grande dame, still damned grand”

Track list:
1    Love’s For Babies & Fools
2    Never Put To Sea Boys
3    If I Were A Bluebird
4    As Fast As My Feet
5    Father Son Ballad
6    Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience
7    Mr Tams
8    Paddy’s Lamentation
9    Never The Bride
10  Blue Bleezin’ Blind Drunk
11  It Won’t Be Long Now

TSCD822 : CD and DL
Buy now from:

12TS822 : LP
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The Full English is a groundbreaking project sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society that draws together for the first time the early 20th century folksong collections of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Alfred Williams. The result is the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world.

To mark the launch of the project, folksong scholar and acclaimed singer Fay Hield has assembled The Full English band, pulling together half a dozen of the top talents on the English folk music circuit for an evening of songs drawn from these unique collections. Together the band have recorded a tremendous album of material drawn from these historic collections. Rapidly becoming identified as a folk supergroup the Full English includes singer and fiddle player Seth Lakeman, who has successfully steered English folk into the musical mainstream with his high-energy performances and a series of best-selling albums, and one of the world’s finest and most admired guitarists, Martin Simpson. Nancy Kerr is another fiddler/singer with a deep commitment to the English traditional repertoire, celebrated for her boundary-smashing partnerships with Eliza Carthy and James Fagan. Sam Sweeney (fiddle) and Rob Harbron (concertina) are formidable instrumentalists who feature in Fay’s backing band The Hurricane Party as well as in Jon Boden’s Remnant Kings, and are two of the most in-demand session musicians on the scene. Nailing all this multi-instrumentality down is Ben Nicholls, double bassist of choice for artists as diverse as the Seth Lakeman Band, Martin Carthy and Jimmy Somerville.

Seth LAKEMAN    Martin SIMPSON    Fay HIELD    Nancy KERR     Sam SWEENEY    Rob HARBRON    Ben NICHOLLS

All photographs by Elly Lucas

“It is a brilliant sucess.”
Paddy Bullard, Times Literary Supplement

Track list:
1   Awake Awake
2   Stand By Your Guns
3   William And Nancy
4   Creeping Jane
5   Arthur O’Bradley
6   Portrait Of My Wife
7   Fol The Day-o
8   Brigg Fair
9   Rounding The Horn
10 The Servant Man
11 Man In The Moon
12 Linden Lea

TSCD823 : CD and DL
Buy The Full English now from:


Deluxe limited edition 2CD set

Vagrant Stanzas is a splendid, intimate new recording from finger-style guitar maestro Martin Simpson. Encouraged by his near neighbour Richard Hawley, Martin set out to record his new album completely solo. The ambition was to record just one man and his guitar (or banjo) close-miked and personal. Most of the performances are first or second takes. So much material was recorded that the deluxe edition includes an extra CD of eight outtakes from the recording sessions – quite honestly they’d have made the cut on just about anybody else’s album.

“This is not a record of repairs and corrections, this is what I do at a gig. It’s the first time I’ve made a studio album which deliberately tries to capture the immediacy of a live performance…. in fact it is the intimacy of playing to a friend which is at the heart of this album.”

The album sees Martin collaborate with some of the best producers and engineers in the business, including multi-Grammy Award winning mastering engineer, Silas Brown. The CD has been co-produced by Martin alongside American producer Peter Denenberg and, our own Richard Hawley, who produced the UK part of the CD in Sheffield, at the legendary Yellow Arch Studios. Vagrant Stanzas is made up of a mixture of Martin’s original compositions, including a song commissioned by BBC Radio 2 for their award winning Radio Ballads series, alongside classic songs by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Chris Wood, Leon Rosselson and, of course, the ubiquitous ‘Anon’ of Folk ballad fame.

“One man with guitar and banjo and an acutely tuned ear for a good tune and a powerful lyric can certainly whip up a lot of different moods and styles. It’s all down to attitude.” fRoots

“There is a distinctive brilliance to Simpson’s guitar and voice – these are vocals from the back step, from the songs’ stark interiors, understood and played out by a man in the third age of life.★★★★ Songlines

“What you get is pure and fluent Simpson musicianship. A very fine record.” ★★★★ The Telegraph

CD 1
1    Diamond Joe
2    Jackie and Murphy
3    Shepherds Rejoice
4    Come Down Jehovah
5    Molly As She Swings
6    Palaces of Gold
7    Blue Eyed Boston Boy
8    Delta Dreams
9    Waly Waly
10    North Country Blues
11    Lorena
12    Lady Gay
13    Stranger Song
14    Come Write me Down

CD 2
1    Fair Annie
2    Kaga Re
3    Blind Willie McTell
4    Old Paint
5    The Bell
6    Diamond Joe
7    The Death of Queen Jane
8    The Green Linnet

With ‘Vagrant Stanzas’ Martin Simpson makes a career defining statement
– solo, intimate performances captured in a series of jewel-like recordings.

Buy Vagrant Stanzas now from:

ELIZA CARTHY Wayward Daughter TSCD772D

Eliza Carthy – The one indisputable young star of British folk” The Times – celebrates her first twenty one years as a professional musician with Wayward Daughter a career-spanning best of double album, with 31 tracks drawn from her diverse and award-winning back-catalogue including traditional and self-penned material. This 2CD is the perfect companion to Eliza’s recently released official biography, written by Sophie Parkes, also titled ‘Wayward Daughter’. There are also a couple of live tracks, samples of a few of her many collaborations with other artists – and previously unreleased material, too.

‘It’s a proud career CV but more importantly it stands powerfully alone on its own considerable merits – vibrant, modern and relevant’ – fRoots Magazine

‘Her vision remains absolutely faithful to the story and expresses the song’s essential emotions. She accomplishes this with wit and exuberance – And this is her genius.. Every home should have a wayward daughter’***** Songlines Magazine

‘A more fearsome performer than mum or dad, or indeed anyone else on the folk scene she’s helped to galvanise…a rich primer of a singular career’ – 8/10 Uncut

‘Headstrong, determined, incorrigible and irreverent, Eliza Carthy did more than anyone to revoluntionise and rid English folk music of staid cliche ridden images’ – **** Mojo

‘Whatever she addresses she does so with warmth, intelligence and crate loads of personality’ – **** Record Collector

1 Worcester City
2 Great Grey Back – with Tom Wright
3 Two Tears
4 The Rose And The Lily – Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
5 Mr Walker
6 Colourblind – with the Ratcatchers
7 Jacky Tar
8 Grey Gallito – Salsa Celtica with Eliza Carthy
9 Newry Town – Waterson:Carthy
10 Blood On My Boots
11 Billy Boy / The Widow’s Wedding
12 The Forsaken Mermaid – Waterson:Carthy
13 I Know My Love – Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr
14 Gallant Hussar – with The Ratcatchers
15 Space Girl – Imagined Village
16 May Song – Waterson:Carthy

1 Little Big Man
2 Child Among The Weeds – with the Red Band
3 Rolling Sea
4 Cold, Wet & Rainy Night / The Grand Hornpipe
5 Lemady – Eliza Carthy & Martin Green, featuring Eddi Reader
6 Jack Frost – Waterson:Carthy
7 Willow Tree
8 The Company Of Men
9 Adieu, Adieu
10 Mother
11 Crystal Spring – Waterson Carthy
12 Blow The Winds / The Game Of Draughts
13 Mohair – with The Ratcatchers
14 The Nightingale / For Kate – Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
15 Britain Is A Car Park

Buy Wayward Daughter now from:

The TOPIC big digital archive project

Early in 2013, Topic Records will begin to publish digital booklets for each album available for digital download. Topic has always had the underlying philosophy of making traditional-based music as widely available as possible. Currently, digital delivery all too often seperates the audio recording from all artwork, documentation and sleeve-notes. The plan at Topic is to restore and include all of the information that originally accompanied the vinyl release and wherever possible add photographs and ephemera from our archive.

In January 2013, 84 archive albums will be available to download complete with new digital booklets. Each month throughout the year we intend to publish further ‘currently out of print’ albums from our archive and to make available digital booklets for all current releases, artist by artist, as well as new ‘themed’ digital collections.

More news soon…

Fay Hield’s second album released 28th May

Orfeo the remarkable second album from Fay Hield has been collecting an enviable series of reviews ahead of the release on Monday 28th May. Fay leads the virtuoso all-star HURRICANE PARTY – Jon Boden (fiddle, guitar, percussion, double bass, mandolin, additional banjo and vocals), Andy Cutting (button accordions, melodeon), Rob Harbron (English Concertina, fiddle, vocals), Sam Sweeney (fiddle, viola, cello, nyckelharpa, vocals) and special guest Martin Simpson (banjo, guitar).

Proper Podcasts publish a series of weekly podcasts which are available for free streaming and download through iTunes and SoundCloud. In the current edition, the first of  a two-part Topic Records special, David Suff and Tony Engle join award-winning broadcaster Trevor Dann to discuss the label’s 70+ year history and some of our classic releases, from Nic Jones to June Tabor & Oysterband and Topic’s Three Score & Ten box set.

Check out this week’s podcast on the blog and find out what Topic MD David Suff has been listening to lately:

Part 2 with Reg Hall and Tony Engle discussing the new Voice of the People releases will be available next Monday.

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JUNE TABOR won the prestigious SINGER OF THE YEAR award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk awards ceremony on Wednesday February 9th. Alongside the OYSTERBAND she also scooped the awards for BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Ragged Kingdom, BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK – Bonny Bunch Of Roses and BEST GROUP.

photograph by Judith Burrows


Twenty one years ago June Tabor and Oysterband collaborated on the classic Freedom And Rain album – frequently regarded as one of the Top 5 Folk albums of all time.

Over the intervening years they have occasionally performed together at gigs and in 2010 were invited to reunite for fRoots’ 30th birthday party at the Roundhouse. They all came off-stage determined to make a belated follow-up. The magnificent Ragged Kingdom arguably surpasses the earlier recording.

“There’s enough emotional power here to fuel a circuit of the sun. The reunion of Oysterband and Tabor has created a masterpiece.” ★★★★★ Songlines

“Striking gold by fusing the contemporary and traditional is at the heart of the folk process. Ragged Kingdom raises the alchemy of that process to the highest level.” The Independent

“This was worth waiting for.” ★★★★★ The Guardian

“Glorious.” ★★★★★ MOJO

“Oysterband provide tough textures and lyrical twists, while June Tabor could sing the washing instructions on a duvet and make it sound as profound as the Gettysburg Address.” The Word

“…one reunion that works so magnificently, it even overshadows the magical memories of their previous collaboration…” fRoots

Bonny Bunch Of Roses : JUNE TABOR & OYSTERBAND by Topic Records

track list:
1     Bonny Bunch Of Roses
2     That Was My Veil
3     Son David
4     Love Will Tear Us Apart
5     (When I Was No But) Sweet Sixteen
6     Judas (Was A Red-Headed Man)
7     If My Love Loves Me
8     The Hills Of Shiloh
9     Fountains Flowing
10    The Leaves Of Life
11    Seven Curses
12    The Dark End Of The Street

June Tabor voice
John Jones voice, melodeon
Ray Cooper cello, mandolin, bass guitar, harmonium, voice
Dil Davies drums
Alan Prosser guitars, kantele, fiddle, voice
Ian Telfer fiddle
Al Scott bass guitar, mandola

Further information can be found at:

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TSCD584Guitar virtuoso MARTIN SIMPSON returns with a fabulous new album. “Purpose + Grace, is in many ways the epiphany of his career. Martin has never chosen the shortest root to stardom but the choices he has made along the way have made him the exceptional talent that he is today.” ★★★★★ Folk Radio UK

Purpose + Grace takes its very apposite title from the great American songwriter Yip Harburg (composer of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’ and ‘Only A Paper Moon’) – “I am one of the last of a small tribe of troubadours who still believe that life is a beautiful and exciting journey with a purpose and grace well worth singing about.”

The album marks a bold and confident step for Simpson. Building upon the strengths of Prodigal Son and True Stories, like a movie producer, he conceived the whole project over a number of months and then invited some of his favourite musicians to bring their stellar talents to the recording sessions. Jon Boden, B J Cole, Dick Gaughan, Fay Hield, Will Pound, June Tabor and Richard Thompson join Martin’s regular band – Andy Cutting, Andy Seward and Keith Angel – on an exemplary series of performances. The material shifts from Anglo-American ballads, Scots and English traditional songs to new compositions from Bruce Springsteen, Richard Thompson, the aforementioned Yip Harburg and Martin Simpson.

“It’s simply a great album from start to finish – wonderful tune, superb musicianship, star guests and a unity of purpose about delivering a fitting tribute to the music he loves that raises the album to such a high level.” ★★★★1/2 The Telegraph

“Martin Simpson has been a guitar hero, accompanist, folk singer and songwriter – and there are reminders of all these in what is surely his most commercial recording to date. It’s notable not just for his guitar and banjo playing and thoughtful vocals, but for the special guests who are often invited to sing lead vocals.★★★★ The Guardian

“Nothing rushed, nothing overdone, yet the playing remains astonishing.” ★★★★ Guitarist

“One of our finest traditional musicians, Simpson’s latest album offers a roving overview of his talents.” ★★★★ UNCUT

“The breadth of this album makes it a joy to listen to, I’d be very hard pushed to choose a favourite but there is no doubt in my mind that it is a five star classic album!” Folk Radio UK

“It may well be the best album Simpson has made in his entire career.” Newcastle Chronicle

“An album of great love and joy, Purpose + Grace confirms that Simpson remains at the top of his game.” Colin Irwin / BBC Music online

More Details >>


16th January 1941 – 22nd June 2011

GIFT wins two BBC Radio2 Folk Awards

On Monday February 7th at the prestigious BBC Radio2 Folk Awards in London, ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON’s splendid duo album GIFT scooped two awards.

Album of the Year

Traditional Recording of the Year
Poor Wayfaring Stranger by ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON

As Norma Waterson continues to recover in hospital this is tremendous news for the family. Here at Topic Records we send our congratulations and very best wishes.

New JUNE TABOR album

JUNE TABOR will release a new album on February 21st. Her distinguished recording career has consistently reached ever higher standards of performance and interpretation. Each of her albums has sought to match the highest technical standards with emotionally powerful performances and scintillating musical arrangements. ASHORE (TSCD577) – a collection of songs concerning humankind’s relationship with the sea – is already being hailed by critics and long-time fans as another career highpoint.

“June Tabor’s singing is spellbinding – one of the great singers of any genre.”
The Guardian

Ashore features a powerful set of contemporary songs alongside classic traditional ballads like ‘The Bleacher Lassie Of Kelvinhaugh’ and ‘The Great Selkie Of Sule Skerry’. The contemporary material includes a spine-tingling version of Elvis Costello’s ‘Shipbuilding’; a new recording of Ian Telfer’s ‘Finisterre’ (first recorded by June with the Oyster Band on ‘Freedom & Rain’) and two remarkable songs from the pen of Cyril Tawney – ‘The Grey Funnel Line’ and ‘The Oggie Man’.

The album was recorded with June’s regular musicians -  Andy Cutting diatonic accordion; Mark Emerson viola and violin, Tim Harries double bass and Huw Warren piano.

June’s range and depth are unparalleled, and with Ashore she fully justifies her reputation as England’s foremost song interpreter.

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THREE SCORE & TEN wins prestgious award

We’re very proud to announce that THREE SCORE & TEN : A Voice To The People has just won another award. The set has won the 2010 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in Record Labels.