Slipcue.Com Celtic & UK Folk Guide

Scotland's Ian Campbell led one of the earliest and most influential bands of the 1960s folk revival. The Ian Campbell Folk Group recorded numerous albums and also nurtured the budding talent of future Celtic folkies Paul Brady, Mick Moloney and Dave Swarbrick. Here's a quick look at their work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Ian Campbell Folk Group "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (Sanctuary, 2005)

Discography - Albums

Ian Campbell Folk Group "This Is... The Ian Campbell Folk Group" (Transatlantic, 1963)
(Produced by Nathan Josseph & Bill Leader)

Originally a '50s skiffle band, this quintet shifted their emphasis towards a traditional English folk repertoire and, with the release of their first album in 1963, became one of the preeminent groups in the UK's folk revival. Oh sure, at the time there were some folkie purists who carped about the Campbell group's selling out by using (gasp!) stringed instruments to back these old folk songs, but when one of his band members is a young Dave Swarbrick, what's there to complain about, really? There's a hurly-burly, somewhat awkward, charm to their first few albums, similar to the enthusiastic clunkiness of the American folkies of the era. It's all great material; apparently other UK folkies routinely plundered Ian Campbell albums for song ideas. Cute stuff, also rather compelling. These two albums were recently re-released as a single CD.

Ian Campbell Folk Group "Across The Hills" (Transatlantic, 1964)
(Produced by Nathan Josseph & Bill Leader)

Ian Campbell Folk Group "Contemporary Campbells" (Transatlantic, 1965)
(Produced by Nathan Josseph)

Here, the group's sound is much more mannered and even a bit prissy -- influenced, apparently, by the more commercialized end of the American folk boom. This folkish flair is also seen in the prevalence of topical, as opposed to traditional, songs, ranging from a eulogy for Marilyn Monroe to some labor and civil rights ballads, and several war songs from the British ranks. One of the more traditional-sounding tunes on here is actually an early composition by Scottish folkster Owen Hand. Although there's good material on here, the performances are a bit thick, and casual listeners may find this slow going.

Ian Campbell Folk Group "New Impressions Of The Ian Campbell Folk Group" (Transatlantic, 1966)
(Produced by Nathan Josseph)

By 1966, fiddler Dave Swarbrick had gone on to pursue his solo and Fairport-y careers, to be replaced by a flautist in the band's new lineup. The New Impressions album is more traditionally oriented, by a little shaky rhythmically, as if the group weren't quite meshing together yet. I enjoy Ian's vocals, although his sister Lorna sounds rather stuffy when singing apart from the ensemble. A mixed bag, but with some nice folkloric material. (By the way, here's a link to Brumbeat, which includes a well written, informative profile of the Ian Campbell group.)

Ian Campbell Folk Group "Coaldust Ballads" (Transatlantic, 1965)

Ian Campbell & The Singing Campbells "The Singing Campbells: Traditions Of An Aberdeen Family" (Transatlantic, 1965) (LP)
Ian Campbell's parents, Betty and Dave, join the siblings Ian, Lorna and Winnie in a traditionally-oriented set...

Ian Campbell Folk Group "The Circle Game" (Transatlantic, 1968)

Ian Campbell & Lorna Campbell "The Cock Doth Craw -- Ballads From Scotland " (Transatlantic, 1968)
A stripped-down trio, with siblings Ian and Lorna accompanied by the Folk Group's John Dunkerley, singing traditional material, mostly drawn from the Child Ballad folios.

Ian Campbell "Tam O'Shanter" (Transatlantic, 1968)
Solo recordings, exploring the work of Scotland's beloved Robert Burns...

Ian Campbell Folk Group "...With Dave Swarbrick" (Music For Pleasure, 1969)

Ian Campbell Folk Group "The Sun Is Burning" (Argo, 1971)

Ian Campbell Folk Group "Something To Sing About" (Pye, 1972)

Ian Campbell Folk Group "Live" (Sonnet, 1974)
Recorded live in Aarhus, Denmark... Produced by Danish folkie Walther Klaebel.

Ian Campbell "And Another Thing -- Songs From Ian Campbell" (Celtic Music, 1993)


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