Released to coincide with the immensely influential British folk giant’s 70th birthday, Topic's two-disc Essential Martin Carthy collection includes 34 tracks culled from his 40-year run with the label. While by no means definitive (keeping the anthology label-centric omits a great deal of his work, including memorable stints with Steeleye Span, the Albion Country Band, and Three City Four), the overview more than lives up to its name in quality. Between his landmark works, both solo and with fiddler Dave Swarbrick, his commanding vocal presence amidst the equally strong voices of wife Norma and daughter Eliza with the Watersons, and his peerless musicianship with Brass Monkey, Essential leaves little to the imagination as to why Carthy sits so solidly at the table of English folk greats.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2