Marking a landmark 80 years is Topic Records, the oldest surviving independent record label in the world. Its accolades are many, championing over the years the obscure, the niche and the popular fringes of British Folk music and this year they've decided to mark this momentous occasion with 'Vision & Revision: The First 80 Years of Topic Records'.
This double album with twenty tracks includes the 'who's who', the cream of contemporary British and Irish Folk artists interpreting a song of their choice from Topic's 80 year collection.
Included are a wide range of artists ranging from Topic faves such as Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson and The Oldham Tinkers but also Lankum, Lisa O'Neill and Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker showing Topic Records and 'folk music' isn't about looking back, 'finger in your ear' singing and sticking to what you know. There are a broad range of emerging artists on this compilation and shows the forward-looking vision Topic and contemporary folk music posses.
It would be ludicrous to pick out the songs or the artists that stick out for a reviewer on this album. The album is varied musically and shows how folk has developed and its image has changed and adapted over the years. From heavyweights such as Richard Thompson, Oysterband and Peggy Seeger to the more emerging artists, all take on board a slice of Topic Records and make it their own. Each interpretation of each song is another story, another chapter in the growing story of Topic Records.
For those wishing to dip their toes into the wealth and breadth of contemporary folk music, this compilation serves as a cohesive introduction into British Folk music and also serves as an essential must-have for those who love Topic Records or follow the artists to take a peek into these newly recorded and unreleased tracks by their well-known and loved artists.
The foreword in the album sleeve by the iconic Billy Bragg says it all:
''Folk music never goes away. You may not hear it, but it is always there, just over your cultural horizon....Formats come and go, but like the music, Topic endures. Long may it do so.''
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