IN TRIBUTE TO THE returning Bright Phoebus, Nic Jones – due to feature in a documentary screened on the Beeb – and Roy Harper – whose first album in 13 years, Man & Myth, is forthcoming on Bella Union, MOJO’s in-office aficionados stuck a finger in one ear and reeled off their personal favourite cuts from 60 years of British folk recordings. Note – folk grumpers – that’s British, so Ireland can wait for another weekend. Neither is it a pompous “best ever”, nor a delve into obscuria, but rather a personal selection of our go-to perennials. We’d be equally delighted to be turned on to your British folk greats via the Comments section below this article, or on Twitter and Facebook.
We’ve tried to cover a wide variety of bases, from traditional vocal-group music as represented by The Watersons and The Young Tradition – both mainstays of the ’60s folk revival – to contemporary artists like The Unthanks (whose All In A Day hails from 2012’s brilliant Tyneside concept suite, Songs From The Shipyards) and Alasdair Roberts, here in his Appendix Out guise.
We will admit to a slight psych-folk-rock bias, with a number of expansive folk hybrids from Comus, Trees, Fairports and more. We hope you will forgive us that. But there’s also plenty of great, “straighter” folk, with some peerless acoustic guitar picking (Roy Harper’s Blackpool is here because it’s Jimmy Page’s favourite), and even a cursory listen is enough to boggle the mind as regards the extraordinary range of unique voices, suspended ethereally between past and present, this world and the next.