The Voice of the People

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The Voice of the People[1] is an anthology of folk songs produced by Topic Records containing recordings of traditional singers and musicians from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The series was first issued in 1998 as 20 CDs, compiled by Dr Reg Hall,[2] a visiting fellow at Sussex University. A second series was issued in 2012 consisting of four volumes (7 CDs) compiled by Shirley Collins, Steve Roud and Rod Stradling. A third series was issued in 2013 comprising 4 albums ( 6 CDs and 1 DVD) of field recordings recorded by Peter Kennedy and selected by Dr Reg Hall. A fourth series was released in 2016 with two albums of three CDs each chronicling the music of the 'London-Irish' from the 1950s to the present day.


The traditional singers and musicians were celebrities within their own community but the majority were unknown to the world at large until the 1950s and 60s when collectors arrived with portable tape recorders. A few of them recorded enough material for an entire album. Most are known for a couple of songs. A few scraps of biographical notes are given in booklets that accompany the discs. Every one of them led working-class lives. Volumes 9 and 19 are collections of instrumentals. In a few cases the singers used song books or ballad sheets to supplement their repertoire, but in most cases their versions are from oral tradition. This collection is the UK equivalent of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music.


Brian Peters wrote in Roots World as "the crème de la crème of Britain's traditional singers and musicians".[3] Veteran Records said it was "the greatest set of CDs of English, Irish and Scottish singing and music ever produced."[4]

The album is listed in the accompanying book to the Topic Records 70 year anniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten as one of their classic records[5]:83 with Creeping Jane from volume 8 as the tenth track on the first CD and The Nut Dance from volume 16 as the first track on the second CD.

Track listing[edit]

The titles detailed below are those used by the singers although there are often other titles for the songs so the links may go to a different title. The references in parentheses for songs are from the three major numbering schemes for folk songs, the Roud Folk Song Index, Child Ballad Numbers originating from Francis James Child and the Laws Numbers from the George Malcolm Laws numbering system.

First series[edit]

The Voice of the People – A Selection from the Series of Anthologies[edit]

This album released in 1998 contains one track from each of the first twenty volumes of the series.

Second series[edit]

Third series[edit]

Fourth Series[edit]

On 16 March 2016 Topic Records issued 2 more albums in the series to commemorate the traditional music of the 'London-Irish'. These two albums were compiled by Reg Hall. Both albums consist of 3 CDs and contain collections or rare recordings from Topic Records own archive, the Peter Kennedy archive in the British Library and many private collections. The albums are

It was mighty - The early days of Irish Music in London

It was great altogether - The continuing Tradition of Irish Music in London.


  1. ^ "Catalogue of the Voice of the People at Topic". Topic records. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Topic bigraphical notes on Reg Hall". Topic records. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Peters, Brian. "Roots World feature article". Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Veteran Records Review". Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Three Score and Ten Accompanying Book
  6. ^ "Volume 1: Come Let Us Buy the Licence - Songs of Courtship & Marriage". Topic Records. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Volume 2: My Ship Shall Sail the Ocean - Songs of Tempest & Sea Battles, Sailor Lads & Fishermen". Topic Records. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Volume 3: O'er His Grave the grass Grew Green – Tragic Ballads". Topic Records. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Volume 4: Farewell, My Own Dear Native Land". Topic Records. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Volume 5: Come All Lads That Follow The Plough". Topic Records. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Volume 6 : Tonight Ill Make You My Bride". Topic Records. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Volume 7: First I'm Going To Sing You a Ditty". Topic Records. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "Volume 8: The Story I'm Just About To Tell". Topic Records. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  14. ^ "Volume 9: Rig-A-Jig-Jig - Dance Music of the South England". Topic Records. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Volume 10: Who's That at my Bedroom Window?". Topic Records. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Volume 11: My Father's King of the Gypsies". Topic Records. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  17. ^ "Volume 12: We've Received Orders to Sail". Topic Records. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  18. ^ "Volume 13: The Ordered Their Pints of Beer & Bottle of Sheery". Topic Records. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  19. ^ "Volume 14: Troubles They Are But Few". Topic Records. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  20. ^ "Volume 15: As Me and My Love Sat Courting". Topic Records. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  21. ^ "Volume 16: You Lazy Lot of Boneshakers – Songs & Dance Tunes of Seasonal Events". Topic Records. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  22. ^ "Volume 17: It Fell on a Day, a Bonny Summer Day - Ballads". Topic Records. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  23. ^ "Volume 18: To Catch a Fine Buck Was My Delight – Songs of Hunting & Poaching". Topic Records. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Volume 19: Ranting and Reeling – Dance Music of the North of England". Topic Records. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  25. ^ "Volume 20: There is a Man Upon the farm – Working Men & Women in Song". Topic Records. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "The Voice of The People – A Selection". Topic Records. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  27. ^ "You Never Heard so Sweet". Topic Records. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  28. ^ "I'm A Romany Rai". Topic Records. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  29. ^ "Good people, Take Warning: Ballads by British and Irish Traditional Singers". Topic Records. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  30. ^ "Sarah Makem – My Heart is True". Topic Records. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  31. ^ "Good Humour for the rest of the night". Topic Records. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  32. ^ "The Barley Mow : Field Recordings & a film made in Suffolk by Peter Kennedy in the 1950s". Topic Records. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  33. ^ "Here's a Health to the Barley Mow – A century of Folk Customs and Ancient Rural Games". British Film Institute. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  34. ^ "The Flax in Bloom". Topic Records. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  35. ^ "Traditional Dance Music from Orkney". Topic Records. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 

External links[edit]