Anne Briggs

Dear Friends: Sorry to have been away so long. I'm back and am here to tell you about Anne Briggs. I don't care about the British Folk Revival, the phenomenon that gets mentioned in every Mojo issue about 20 times, the thing that you have to hear about every time a new Devendra Banhart (sp?) or Joanna Newson record comes out. But Anne Briggs, while a British folkie to be sure, is a something else altogether, somebody too original and sublime to be cast in that pot. She is a field hippy with a punk attitude, like a PJ Harvey singing ancient folk ballads. She prefers to sing a cappella, and has never been crazy about being recorded. She dislikes being photographed, and when caught on film she generally looks like she needs a bath and a hairbrush, and like she might be considering punching the photographer. Her 1971 album The Time Has Come was reissued this year, and this record is what I'm really writing about here. On this record Briggs allowed herself to be accompanied by some light guitar playing, and on the two instrumental tracks she plays some rare stringed instrument herself. This is a spellbinding album, and something that should be known as one of the great folk records of all time, instead of an album only a select few have heard. The guitar playing is similar to that of the acoustic work on Led Zeppelin III, and Anne's vocals are something that can't really be described – they just need to be heard. This is Nick Drake meets Judee Sill, it's acoustic Led Zeppelin with a female vocalist, it's timeless music performed by an extraordinary artist, it's Anne Briggs . . . and it's the reissue of the year, as far as I'm concerned. Also highly worthwhile is the Anne Briggs compilation, A Collection, which compiles much of her best a cappella material. The one I would skip is Sing a Song For You, on which Briggs is backed by the band Ragged Robin – just not the same caliber of material as is found on Time Has Come and A Collection.