TOPIC RECORDS CELEBRATED ITS 80TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2019 AS THE OLDEST INDEPENDENT RECORD LABEL IN THE WORLD
Since 1939, Topic Records has been a fervent and consistent champion of “the people’s music.” During that time, it has withstood wars, shortages, austerity, economic disaster, the vagaries of fashion, corporate onslaught and various cataclysmic shifts in the fortunes of the recording industry, to retain its proud and distinctively individual role as a beacon of integrity and true values. This fortitude has resulted in its unquestionable claim to being the oldest, surviving truly independent record label in the world.
With its origins in the Workers’ Music Association, through the mid-20th century folk revival to the present day, Topic Records has established itself as not only the pre-eminent British folk music label, but one widely respected throughout the world. Topic has undoubtedly released some of the most influential folk recordings of modern times, by a host of revered artists, from Anne Briggs to Peggy Seeger to June Tabor to Ewan MacColl to Martin Simpson to Nic Jones to Shirley Collins and many, many more.
Not content to merely rely on the undeniable splendours of the past, Topic Records continues to look forward to the future with considerable optimism for both itself and the genre to which it has long been central. The label has recently released acclaimed new albums by Martin Simpson, Eliza Carthy, new signing Rachael McShane & The Cartographers (‘When All Is Still’), as well as a veritable who’s-who of modern British folk in the shape of ‘Vision & Revision : The First 80 Years Of Topic Records.’ Its new ‘An Introduction To…’ series, launched in 2017 has, to date, compiled 14 definitive primers of the likes of Topic artists Anne Briggs, Shirley Collins, Nic Jones, Norma Waterson, Martin Simpson, June Tabor, John Tams, Martin Carthy and more. Likewise, its new Topic Treasure series takes the label’s seminal releases and gives them a new lease of life with remastering, specially-commissioned sleeve notes and unseen photographs and images.
The British folk scene is currently in rude health with young performers constantly bursting out from the undergrowth offering ever fresher takes on “the tradition” and pretty much all of them, undoubtedly, consciously or otherwise, in some small way, owe a debt to Topic Records.
The full length biography can be found here.