There are some exciting times ahead with Topic Records. There is a whole raft of releases, re-releases, concerts and events being organised to celebrate their 80th anniversary. We will be publicising all news here on Folk Roots List but here’s a taster of what’s to come.
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.
“I’ve been buying and scrounging Topic Records since 1954. It feels like Topic has always been there, quietly doing good work. Like a backbone.” – John Peel, 1999.
During the past 80 years, Topic Records has built a deserved reputation for not compromising the nature of its work or that of the independent spirit of the artists it represents. Irrespective of fads or fashions, Topic has not simply survived, but it has grown and flourished too – proof, if any were needed, that “grass roots” interest in traditional music, the artists and the label itself, has remained constant and strong. Topic has 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 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. 2019 sees a flurry of new releases, further special events, live performances, exhibitions, documentaries and podcasts. March 22nd heralds in a new series of expanded, deluxe reissues under the Topic Treasures banner, commencing with Martin Simpson’s ‘Prodigal Son’, Anne Briggs’ eponymous 1971 album and Shirley Collins’ ‘The Sweet Primeroses’.
Come April, there will also be a limited-edition gold vinyl issue of ‘Anne Briggs’, alongside June Tabor’s ‘Airs and Graces’. In May, we have ‘Restitute’ a brand-new release from Eliza Carthy, ‘An Introduction To…’ Nic Jones compilation album, and Dick Gaughn’s ‘Handful of Earth’ reissued on Topic Treasures.
On May 31st, Topic Records will release a landmark album, Vision & Revision: The first 80 years of Topic Records– a deluxe double CD of the cream of British folk artists covering a song of their choice from Topic’s vast back catalogue. 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.
Also forthcoming in 2019, will be Topic Records Presents, a series of concerts and events at Cecil Sharp House, England’s award-winning folk arts centre that is home to the English Folk Dance & Song Society. From June 5th 2019 – January 5th 2020, CSH will host ‘Topic Records: Folk In Focus’– an absorbing exhibition of iconic photographs from the label archive focusing on the seminal artists who’ve helped shape contemporary folk music as we know it. The exhibition will include era-defining shots of Anne Briggs, Shirley & Dolly Collins, The Watersons, Nic Jones, June Tabor, Martin Simpson, Eliza and Martin Carthy, Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl and many more.
The label has recently released acclaimed new albums by Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band, Martin Simpson, new signing Rachael McShane & The Cartographers and Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy With The Gift Band. Its new ‘An Introduction To…’ series, launched in 2017 has so far compiled 14 definitive primers of the likes of Topic artists Shirley Collins, Nic Jones, Norma Waterson, Martin Simpson, John Tams and Martin Carthy.
Listen to a selection of classic Topic Records songs here: