Ian Campbell

This Is the Ian Campbell Folk Group

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Though the Ian Campbell Folk Group had issued a couple of EPs on the Topic label in the early 1960s, This Is the Ian Campbell Folk Group (issued on Transatlantic in the U.K. in 1963, and by Elektra in the U.S. a couple of years later) was their first 12" LP. It presented competent, if somewhat staid and reverently executed, British folk devoted largely to traditional material. If it sounds dated today, by the standards of its era it was pretty robust and full-bodied, owing to its frequent multi-voice singing parts and the backing of the vocals of Ian Campbell and his sister Lorna Campbell with banjo, guitar, autoharp, fiddle, and mandola. The latter two instruments are played by Dave Swarbrick, a good half-dozen years or so before he joined Fairport Convention; his fiddling is especially to the fore on the instrumental "Traditional Medley." Another cut of note is their somber a cappella version of Pete Seeger's "The Bells of Rhymney." The record was important in helping to introduce this sort of material and style to a wide audience at a time when it wasn't all that easy to find on record, particularly in the United States, where Elektra added it to its catalog. However, it could have done with more vocals by Lorna Campbell, who's a more engaging singer than her brother. Note that the Elektra version of the album is missing two songs that appeared on the original U.K. issue, those being "Homeward Bound" (not the Paul Simon song) and "The Jute Mill Song." Also note that the record was re-released shortly afterward on the Contour label as Presenting the Ian Campbell Folk Group, with different sleeve notes and a different cover.