Alex Campbell

Folk Session

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Confusingly, this 1964 album was issued with two different front covers bearing two different titles on two different labels, though the back covers were almost identical. It's most often called Folk Session in discographies, in honor of the titles used on the front cover of the one on the Fidelity label; the other cover uses the title Sings Folk, and was issued on the Society label. Whatever edition you pick up, however, it's pretty straightforward traditional folk music, apparently recorded before a small live audience. Alex Campbell's singing, guitar, and five-string banjo gets varied backing by a rotating group of four musicians on dulcimer, concertina, mandolo, and autoharp, with a couple of the numbers being sung without musical accompaniment. With jovial crowd noise, merry between-song banter and announcements from Campbell, and occasional audience participation, the feeling is very much like actually being at a small club or informal get-together of music-making in Scotland, though the exact location of the recording is not specified in the liner notes. The material ranges from a Glasgow street song ("Johnny Lad") and a broadside ballad ("Captain Kidd") to a mine disaster narrative and a number learned from Derroll Adams ("I Wished I Was a Rock"). Campbell isn't an especially notable interpreter, but it's an adequate snapshot of how the traditional folk repertoire was performed by artists such as himself in Scotland in the mid-'60s.