Before Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick decided to mix tradition with rock & roll in the late '60s, they zealously performed traditional English folk. Both Ears and the Tail find the two of them performing a live, acoustic set from 1966. The material is traditional, with Carthy on guitar and vocals, and Swarbrick on fiddle and mandolin. This performance is immediate and friendly, complete with stories -- the true story of how their train hit a cow on the way to the gig -- and pleasant banter in-between songs. They deliver a lovely version of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" and a lively take of "High Germany." These ballads tell stories of ribaldry, robbery, and betrayal. "Fair Maid on the Shore" tells of a captain who entreats his crew to bring a maid aboard his boat, only to be robbed by her once everyone has fallen asleep. "The Bonny Black Hare" is a wonderful bawdy song, chock-full of double entendres, while "The Broomfield Hill" tells of a maid who bets a squire that she can go to the woods with him and return a virgin. There are also a number of sparkling jigs and reels including "The Hens March/The Four Poster Bed" and "Dill Pickles Rag." This lively set is a fine example of how young English musicians updated traditional music, injecting it with vitality while respecting its origins. For Carthy and Swarbrick fans, and lovers of good English folk music, this is a timeless and enjoyable disc.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.