The Carthy Chronicles: A Journey Through the Folk Revival
It would be far too easy to simply call this the definitive Martin Carthy compilation. Given its length -- four CDs plus a CD-ROM -- it would seem to cover all the high spots. In fact, it goes far deeper, looking at his career not chronologically, but splitting the albums into Classic Carthy, Carthy in Company, Carthy Contemporaries, and Child: Carthy. It's an approach that works well and which also discovers plenty of hidden gems that have never seen the light of day before, from early live performances to tracks by his first band, Three City Four, that have never been reissued on CD. It all underscores the fact that Carthy is a major force in English -- and British -- folk music, someone who deserves every plaudit he's ever been given, whether for his understated guitar technique or his thoughtful interpretations of traditional songs, illustrated here on the first and last discs. And while his reputation rests heavily on that traditional arrangement of material, he's done a good share of modern work, too, whether his own, all-too-infrequent compositions like "Company Policy," Dylan, Richard Thompson, or even Gilbert O'Sullivan. From solo work to duets with fiddler Dave Swarbrick, the bold Brass Monkey, and Waterson:Carthy, the man plowed a lot of furrows and the compilers of this set have gone over them all with a very fine-toothed comb. Add to that an excellent booklet, and one has an outstanding set and a well-deserved tribute to one of the great folk figures.