Now the oldest independent record label in the world, Topic began it's life in 1939 as an offshoot of the Worker's Music Association, a communist organisation who sold left-wing political music via mail order. In the 1950's with help from A L Lloyd and Ewan McColl Topic began producing records of traditional music including some of the earliest examples of American Blues music to hit the market in the UK. By the early 60's Topic split from the WMA but their socialist ethics remained. The album 'The Iron Muse', a compilation of industrial workers songs, had substantial sales and allowed Topic to branch out further, releasing work by artists such as Shirley Collins, The Watersons, Martin Carthy and Nic Jones.
'Topic Records and the Art of Folk Music' exhibition at the Barbican library runs until the end of January 2017 and is well worth a visit for any folk fans. It features a fascinating selection of archive artifacts from the past 77 years of Topic records, including my design for Pentangle's Finale.
During January there will also be two musical events in the library in association with the exhibition; 'An audience with Eliza Carthy' on January 16th and 'An Audience with Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson' on January 30th.