This is a collection of six studio albums, plus some other related material, from the period 1963-1968 and covering the groups entire catalogue recorded for Transatlantic Records (whose first releases were a trio of sex education records).

For those that don’t know the Ian Campbell Folk Group they were one of the most respected, influential and well known British folk groups of the era. They topped the bill at the Albert Hall, appeared on TV numerous times, played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964 and were prolific live performers throughout Europe.ian-campbell-folk-group

Disc One features the bands debut 18 track album ‘This Is The Ian Campbell Folk Group” and the follow up ‘Across The Hills’. Disc Two has the 1965 ‘Coaldust Ballads’ (on CD for the first time) and ‘Contemporary Campbells’ from the same year. Disc Three has the album ‘New Impressions’ and ‘The Circle Game’ with the latter again being the first time on CD. The final CD in this collection contains all the tracks recorded by the group in the period but which did not make it to the albums above.

Campbell’s family were originally from Aberdeen but due to ‘militant’ activities family members were blacklisted in their home town and relocated to Birmingham and it was here the young Ian Campbell first made music.

The music herein is a mix of traditional and original folk tunes and it is all very much in the real tradition of folk music…music that working people enjoyed listening to and sing along with, though many of the alterations to words and melodies make the tunes unique to the group. Throughout the records there is the feeling that there is still the family trait of radical socialist politics and it’s interesting to note that Campbell’s sons Ali and Robin were founding members of the band UB40.

The clamshell pack comes with extensive liner notes and is to be recommended to folk that know their folk…and perhaps others who would like to explore the genre further.

Stuart Smith

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