On the front cover: Left to Right: Lorna Campbell, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Phillips; Bottom Right: Ian Campbell; Left Centre: John Dunkerley; Bottom Left: Brian Clark
The first thing that strikes you when you listen to the Ian Campbell Folk Group is the rich texture and blend of vocal and instrumental sound. The Campbells are no three-chord City-billies, busking their way through a few favourite songs. The second thing that strikes you is that you haven't heard any songs about the Chain Gang, the Dust Bowl, or any of those other subjects close to the heart of the Coffee Bar Cowboy. In fact you are listening to a programme of British songs — and liking it.
The Campbells live in Birmingham where they run their phenomenally successful "Jug of Punch" Folk Club, but Ian and Lorna come from Aberdeen and it is from Scotland and the Border country that they draw much of their material. "TWA RECRUITING SERGEANTS" a favourite of the great traditional singer Jeannie Robertson of Aberdeen; the classic ballad "THE UNQUIET GRAVE" "JOHNNY LAD" and "THE WEE COOPER OF FYFE" come from Scotland. "THE KEEL ROW" and "THE WATERS OF TYNE" come from the north-east of England.
The Campbell Group's repertoire reflects the growing interest in songs from the town as well as the country. "DOWN IN THE COAL MINE" is sung to one of the jauntiest of Irish tunes. The moving "JUTE MILL SONG" is a recently composed song by Mrs. Mary Brookbank of Dundee, and "THE APPRENTICE'S SONG" is Ian's own composition. The other recent song is Pete Seeger's setting of the Idris Davies poem "THE BELLS OF RHYMNEY".
Older, but still on the theme of work, we have the sea song "HOMEWARD BOUND" and the shanty "BLOW BOYS BLOW". From Australia come the fantasy "THE DROVER'S DREAM", and the wry but realistic "ROCKIN THE CRADLE" from England the pastoral "TO HEAR THE NIGHTINGALE SING".
Vocally and instrumentally, the Campbells possess a rich and remarkable variety of talents. They are fast establishing themselves in the top flight of international folk entertainers. It is hoped that this album will be another major step in that direction.