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An Introduction To...2LP
An Introduction To...2LP


An Introduction To Martin Simpson

Personally selected and sequenced by Martin Simpson, this new addition to Topic's series of introductory overviews of the label's most renowned artists includes an exclusively recorded track by Martin, a wonderful solo acoustic version of Leon Rosselson's 'Palaces of Gold' from his classic 1968 album A Laugh, A Song and a Hand Grenade.

It's remarkable to think that Martin Simpson is now celebrating some 45 years as a professional musician since, unlike so many of the Topic greats, Simpson was not part of the 50s folk revival or the more expansive contemporary folk scene of the 60s. Effectively, Martin Simpson has spearheaded the generation of folk musicians who only began recording in the mid-70s and is now readily acknowledged as one of the most original and skilful folk guitarists currently playing on the British and American folk scene. It was as a defining instrumentalist and interpreter of predominantly traditional British and American folk material that Simpson first established himself. Yet, as this new selection amply testifies, he has become a highly gifted songwriter. He first made a significant mark as a songwriter on 2003's Righteousness & Humidity with a handful of songs that included the evocative truck stop epic 'Love Never Dies'. Since then he has continued to deliver powerful compositions, none more poignant than the remarkable 'Banjo Bill' (from 2011's Purpose & Grace), based upon the words of Banjo Bill Cornett of Hindman, Kentucky, which testifies to the breadth and scope of Simpson's writing. The main focus of An Introduction To is on the albums Simpson has recorded for Topic since he returned to the label with The Bramble Briar in 2001 after a break of almost 15 years. The selection bar one track - also draws entirely from Simpson's solo albums opening with Emily Portman's 'Bones & Feathers' from last year's Trials & Tribulations, his 20th solo album. The exception is the debut recording by the wonderful new trio of Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr, a stunning expression of the joy of playing and singing between three absolutely intuitive musicians; featured here is Simpson's moving composition 'Dark Swift and Bright Swallow'. Other collaborations - notably with June Tabor and The Full English - almost double the number of albums Simpson has put his name to, and let's not even try to calculate the number of his contributions as a musician to other people's work in the past forty years including albums by Andrew Cronshaw, Martin Carthy, father-in-law Roy Bailey, Steve Tilston, Eliza Carthy, Dick Gaughan, Fay Hield and then some. Nor should we ignore the equally gifted musicians who happily appear on Simpson's own recordings: Richard and Danny Thompson (no relation), BJ Cole, Jackson Browne, Rick Kemp, Kate Rusby among the many inspired to work with him. The interaction between Simpson and these past and present masters is always damn near faultless while his own playing playing is always impeccable. His acoustic, electric, slide guitar and banjo skills are always matched by a brilliant interpretive approach that combines immaculate technique with tremendous musical sensitivity. For too long Martin Simpson was a well-kept secret outside the folk world, until albums such as Kind Letters and Prodigal Son received overdue widespread recognition. It's a further measure of this acknowledgment that Simpson has been nominated an astounding 31 times in the fifteen years of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards - more than any other performer - with 9 consecutive years as nominee for Musician of The Year, which he has won twice. 2008 saw an incredible 5 nominations for Prodigal Son and 2 wins, whilst in 2010 he had an unprecedented 6 nominations for True Stories and a win for Best Traditional Track, 'Sir Patrick Spens'. This selection of course is the tip of the iceberg but it's as good a place to start for the uninitiated while long term converts can just sit back and enjoy his ever eclectic, spellbinding and deeply affecting work.


  1. Name
  2. Bones & Feathers
  3. Never Any Good
  4. Dives And Lazarus
  5. Banjo Bill
  6. Love Never Dies
  7. Brothers Under The Bridge
  8. Love Henry
  9. She Slips Away
  10. Will Atkinson
  11. St Patrick Spens
  12. Dark Swift And Bright Swallows
  13. John Hardy
  14. Thomas Drew
  15. Delta Dreams
  16. Palaces Of Gold
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