photos:Tom Howard


  R E L E A S E D    S P R I N G    2 0 0 5

but no longer available


Topic Records TSFCD4003 (now deleted from catalogue)


ALWAYS is June Tabor's four CD boxed set, researched and compiled by David Suff

It's a 'career overview' blend of previously unreleased studio and live recordings interspersed with tracks from June's many albums

There's a 48-page booklet with archive photographs, a detailed biographical essay by Ken Hunt with explanations and observations from June herself, and illuminating notes on each song from June and others. With around 70 songs, there is a lot of listening on these CDs.

See reviews of ALWAYS further down this page




1 the seeds of love †* : 6.10
2 the king of rome : 3.41
3 hard love : 5.02
4 casey’s last ride †* : 5.40
5 what will we do? : 1.58
6 skewball †* : 2.43
7 while gamekeepers lie sleeping †* : 1.35
8 the week before easter †* : 4.12
9 strange affair : 5.42
10 sir patrick spens : 7.00
11 gypsum davey †* : 4.47
12 buried in kilkenny †* : 2.58
13 behind the wall †* : 1.46
14 zaida’s poem †* : 3.46
15 young johnstone †* : 6.13
16 mississippi summer : 3.13
17 a place called england : 4.42

1 i never thought my love would leave me : 4.13
2 beat the retreat : 6.08
3 fine horseman †* : 6.18
4 the overgate : 2.20
5 the fair maid of wallington : 4.28
6 meditation †* : 3.50
7 geordie : 3.58
8 all this useless beauty †* : 3.48
9 love henry +
the cherokee shuffle : 4.11
10 illusions †* : 4.22
11 four loom weaver †* : 2.26
12 i will put my ship in order : 6.07
13 cold and raw †* : 3.30
14 the nurse, dorothy nicol +
the long long trail +
the reaper †* : 8.17
15 the band played ‘waltzing matilda’ : 3.46
16 maybe then i’ll be a rose : 4.21

1 april morning : 4.58
2 johnny o’bredislee + glory of the west †* : 7.01
3 singing the travels : 2.45
4 waiting for the lark : 4.08
5 10,000 miles : 5.27
6 hunting the cutty wren : 3.18
7 willie taylor †* : 2.49
8 bonny may : 4.22
9 aqaba : 4.31
10 anachie gordon †* : 5.44
11 reynardine †* : 5.17
12 dashing away with the smoothing iron †* : 2.33
13 pharaoh †* : 4.38
14 belle rose : 2.47
15 will ye go to flanders †* : 3.42
16 shallow brown : 4.17
17 now i’m easy : 3.50

1 mrs rita* : 2.43
2 all tomorrow’s parties : 3.45
3 the wind and rain + the falls of richmond †* : 4.46
4 bonnie james campbell : 3.35
5 a proper sort of gardener : 4.17
6 the royal oak †* : 2.37
7 false false : 3.38
8 roseville fair* : 2.42
9 eights and aces : 2.03
10 the baker : 4.22
11 this is always : 4.32
12 queen cruelty †* : 3.37
13 joe peel : 3.40
14 all our trades are gone †* : 5.30
15 virginia’s bloody soil †* : 2.45
16 hug pine †* : 5.07
17 the late passenger +
unicorns †* : 6.42

† live
* previously unreleased recording


For those that imagine that June Tabor deals only in the dark, doom-laden end of traditional music, with the odd foray into Brechtian torch songs, this set is a revelation: yes, those elements are here, but Tabor's repertoire and stylistic reach display amazing breadth - from folk to rock to jazz, from the comic to the mystical, from the bleak to the bawdy - and the myriad capabilities of her voice are revealed once and for all, in this kaleidoscopic, gloriously non-chronological (yet brilliantly sequenced) four disc set......The among the best I've encountered in any box set, incorporating a cache of rare photos, a definitive career overview from Ken Hunt, rich in Tabor quotes, and fascinating song by song notes from June and a handful of her collaborators. Throughout, the sometimes fearsome-looking woman is revealed as intelligent, endearingly unpretentious, questing and honest in her selection of material and committed, like a custodian of some rare treasures, to the power of song, whatever its genre.....Her music takes a little effort to attune to, perhaps, but this set is a perfect introduction and an incredible legacy.  Colin Harper in Record Collector

‘June Tabor is the most magisterial perhaps most intellectual of English Folk singers, with a bleak ear for a murder ballad or a lament for love gone wrong. This richly deserved four-cd retrospective charts her career from puritan solo singer through associations with Martin Simpson and then the pianist Huw Warren, plus detours as ‘chick singer’ with the Oyster Band, and as a Silly Sister with Maddy Prior. The highlights come when she tackles one of Maggie Holland’s extended hortological metaphors-in-song, celebrating England as an embattled garden’    The Financial Times

'A timely celebration of one of Britain’s finest voices. Four CDs span Tabor’s 30 year vocation in song for an anthology that’s brimming with sonorous riches and fantastical tales.’     Observer Music Monthly Magazine                                                                                                

'She may not boast the curly headed cuteness of Kate Rusby, and lacks the boisterous exuberance of Eliza Carthy, but June Tabor is the British female folk singer to whom all others have deferred for nearly 30 years. There are almost 70 tracks in this four-CD box set, and each one offers eloquent testimony to her pre-eminence. The traditional ballads display both the range of her rich, dark voice and her ability to explore anew the soul of the most familiar song, imbuing it with the feeling that you are hearing it for the first time. Yet Tabor is also far more than just a folk singer. With the innate sense of drama of a natural storyteller, she can take contemporary compositions by the likes of Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Tracy Chapman and even the Brazilian legend Antonio Carlos Jobim and make them sound old and yet timeless. Almost half of the tracks here are newly released and others long out of catalogue, so hardcore fans are catered for. Newcomers, meanwhile, will simply marvel at the intensity and passion of her voice. Folk singing? What Tabor delivers is more like traditional English soul music.' The Times

‘Blessed with a resonantly mournful voice that evokes the bleak thickets and chill fields of the English countryside, June Tabor is one of modern British folk music’s pre-eminent interpreters of song….’  Q – 4 star review – ‘Q Recommends’

'This in depth overview of June Tabor is a long time due. Every nook and cranny of the great singer's career has been revisited, from her early work with Maddy Prior as the Silly Sisters right up to An Echo of Hooves (the latest in an excellent trail of solo albums), via interludes into both jazz territory and collaborations with the Oyster Band. Whether it's beautifully rendering traditional material like 'April Morning' or interpreting the work of arch songwriters like Elvis Costello, with June Tabor the voice is everything. Full, rounded and instantly recognisable, it oozes authority with every syllable, often invoking a sombre, near-gothic air. While it's beyond churlish to pull out any tracks for special attention, those that shine brightest in this collection of gems include the harp-flecked 'The Baker' and a defiant and immaculate rendition of Richard Thompson's 'Beat the Retreat'. Until Tabor gets recognised in the New Year's Honours List, this superlative package provides the much deserved salute to a faultless career. This is her damehood.'   HMV Choice