Anne Briggs was born in Nottinghamshire in 1944 and began singing in local folk clubs in her teens. Her break came through the Centre 42 tour of 1962. This was a distinctly leftist group of artists, writers, actors and musicians whose lofty aim was to make arts and culture accessible to the masses. Local artists were invited to audition where Ewan MacColl first heard Briggs’ remarkable voice and persuaded her to join the tour. Briggs debut EP, The Hazards Of Love, was produced by Lloyd although Briggs never enjoyed recording and it was only though Lloyd’s coaxing that she contributed to his pioneering conceptual albums The Iron Muse and The Bird In The Bush. The first six, traditional, unaccompanied songs presented here are taken from these outstanding recordings made between 1963 and 1966 which display all the hallmarks of Anne Briggs artistry – pure, fluid and with flawless timing.
It wasn’t until 1971 that Briggs eventually recorded her debut album for Topic. Anne Briggs (Topic LP 12T207) was again produced by Lloyd. Briggs draws almost exclusively from the classic repertoire of British folk, her performances are both pure and unusual. Famously, Briggs taught Jansch ‘Blackwater Side’, which he then made his own on his classic 1965 debut album; the next year his pivotal traditional album Jack Orion largely comprised songs he learnt from Briggs who helped him understand the structure of folk song. Briggs and Jansch also wrote a handful of songs together. One of these, ‘Go Your Way (My Love)’, was eventually recorded for her Topic album, as was her definitive treatment of ‘Blackwater Side’.