Ian Campbell

The Sun Is Burning: The Songs of Ian Campbell

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As part of the title of this early-'70s LP indicates, this was specifically designed as a set of Ian Campbell original compositions, even though the Ian Campbell Folk Group had devoted the majority of their recordings to traditional folk songs and covers of material by other songwriters. Nor is it a compilation of Ian Campbell compositions that had been previously released; while some of these songs had shown up on his group's '60s releases, those tunes were newly re-recorded for this album. There are likely two ways of viewing this record, if you have any serious interest in British folk of the period. If you value the group for their more typical approach -- in which they reverently played traditional, or traditionally oriented, songs in the British folk style -- you might find this way too folk-pop in both repertoire and production for your tastes. If, on the other hand, you find the group's usual style rather stiff and limited, you might find this a welcome change of pace, both for its emphasis on original material and its use of varied orchestral arrangements to augment their folk instrumentation. Still, there's no disputing it's an odd endeavor, the folk-pop arrangements bearing a slightly corny middle of the road flavor that seemed a few years out of date by the early '70s. Nonetheless, there are some nice songs here, like the stirring romantic ballads "Come Kiss Me, Love" and "The Snow Is Falling," though Lorna Campbell's singing on these decidedly outshines brother Ian's vocals on the more strident numbers. Certainly the oddest track is "Talking Blackbird," where the nightclub jazz backing has nothing to do with folk at all, and the spoken narrative vocals deliver an elaborate allegory of racism with intonation straight out of a comic detective film. It's more like a Bonzo Dog Band outtake than an Ian Campbell Folk Group effort, though an interesting curiosity precisely for that reason.