This document represents an attempt to collate and clarify the various audio and video recordings of Kate & Anna McGarrigle. With only 11 albums to their name over a period of 35 years - not counting a 2011 3CD compilation - the sisters would not be considered particularly prolific as commercial recording artists but, as the list on the left of this page testifies, their efforts actually extended much further, with many contributions to compilations or as backing vocalists on other artists recordings.
Kate & Anna performed on the folk circuit for a number of years during the late 60s and early 70s in various guises - as part of Le Trio Canadien, The Mountain City Four, Kate solo and with Roma Baran, and eventually as a duo, but record company interest had been negligible. Their initial involvement on released records was restricted to guest contributions: Anna (as part of a Kate-less Mountain City Four) on a Chris Rawlings LP released in mid-1970 and Kate on her then-husband Loudon Wainwright’s second album released in mid-1971. However, their earliest known commercially distributed recording dates from some years earlier. While it is sometimes reported that they were invited to compose the soundtrack for Helicopter Canada, a 50-minute film directed by Eugen Boyko for the National Film Board of Canada in 1966, this would appear to be something of an exaggeration as their contribution was limited to a Mountain City Four performance of Kate's "The Bluenose," one of several songs with similar titles devoted to the eponymous schooner that became famous in the 1930s. Eventually their involvement in two Maria Muldaur albums led to a record deal with Warner Brothers and the release, in late 1975, of a highly acclaimed debut LP. [For the comprehensive story you are advised to seek out Dane Lanken's (husband of Anna) wonderful book Songs & Stories.]
While these pages are devoted to commercially released recordings there are occasions when unreleased material has been included. Details have been compiled from original UK, US & Canadian LPs and CDs together with relevant VHS and DVD releases. There are relatively few items from continental Europe that warrant consideration but occasionally something unique or important has been included. Undoubtedly there are further unreleased recordings that do not appear here – particularly material that Kate & Anna would have created together at home as demos or for their own amusement. Nevertheless, while it would be well nigh impossible to compile a definitive sessionography, some effort has been made to draw together known loose strands and include relevant details here. It is not unreasonable to suggest that, despite continued critical acclaim, record companies found it difficult to decide how to promote McGarrigles product and, during the vinyl era, relatively few of their recordings were released as 45rpm singles. The ascendency of the CD meant that the last album pressed on vinyl was Heartbeats Accelerating (although this was limited to a European release only) and from Matapedia onwards albums became exclusively CD - the only exception being a 2010 release of The McGarrigle Hour as a 2 LP set. Commercial CD singles were non-existent although there are a number of their guest appearances that feature on such, and an attempt has been made to include these - both commercial & promo - where appropriate. Some judicious editing has been applied to Rufus Wainwright releases which sometimes have variations in format that would be superfluous here.
A certain degree of fluidity must be accepted
when accessing these pages; it must be appreciated that recordings of songs are
often created over a period of time and may therefore span different studios and
dates. Incorporate the complexities of overdubbing, mixing, mastering etc and
the pursuit of any significant "date" to attach to a particular recording
becomes something of a futile exercise. This in itself raises a simple question:
should items be listed in order of release dates or "recording" dates? This
document has been designed to offer both options. The navigation bar on the left
enables immediate access to any individual recording with entries listed roughly
in chronological order of release. Further, a more detailed
list, with dates, song titles and selected artwork, can be accessed from this
link: List by recording date - compiled (with a high
degree of guesswork) in order of recording. Neither approach is
definitive. Alternatively you may browse entries by category via the navigation
bar on the right which appears on every page. There are an unusually high proportion of guest appearances
(including a number on rather obscure Canadian releases) which are all included.
Some have re-appeared on alternate releases by the principal artist and they
are annotated on individual album pages where appropriate. Usually, where
such guest appearances have been included, other tracks from that album have
been omitted. However, there are a few instances when an album has been included
wholesale - perhaps because there is some doubt as to precise McGarrigle
participation. This strategy may sometimes appear illogical. Additionally,
re-releases of older LPs on CD have sometimes added unusual non-contemporaneous
recordings. Film and TV soundtracks occasionally prove problematical. Kate, Anna
& Jane provided incidental music for a number of films, and details have, for the
most part, been simplified for this document. To annotate every second of such
music would not be impossible but might just try the patience of the reader...
and the sanity of this author. Of least importance are released recordings that
appear on 'various artist' compilation albums; a number of these have been added
as an afterthought but there are undoubtedly some missing. It may well be that
some catalogue numbers are actually barcodes and it would be appreciated if such
errors are pointed out.
Kate & Anna are the main performers unless otherwise indicated and usually they have been very precise with musician credits on album sleeves. Similarly they have been careful to distinguish between the lyricist and the musical creator. At present that information has been amalgamated although it can be assumed that any mention of Philippe Tatartcheff implies that he has contributed French lyrics. Some effort has been made to include details of engineers, studios, producers etc but this is not as comprehensive as it could be. Paradoxically there are undoubtedly credits included for personnel who actually had little or no involvement with McGarrigle recordings as guests, but these have been included until they can be definitively eliminated. There are a multitude of online sources that reproduce some of the information contained here but many of them are riddled with errors and typos. (In particular when consulting Wikipedia for confirmation of details regarding the Dancer With Bruised Knees LP it was a surprise to see a gaggle of respected bluegrass musicians listed for contributions to the album - none of whom are credited on that particular album sleeve - or actually play on the album for that matter. [This has now been corrected]. Further research revealed over a quarter of a million hits that had the same misinformation. Indeed an obituary of one the phantom musicians in a highly respected UK newspaper credited him for "fine work" on the LP.) I have done my best to filter out such mistakes but forgive me if something erroneous has slipped through. On occasion release dates for different countries do not align, and the one given is for the earliest known release. Dates have been sourced from a variety of databases, some of which give dates for CD releases of the vinyl albums that preceded them by some years. Such reissue dates have been ignored at this stage, and many of those obscure Canadian releases that feature guest appearances remain undated. Abbreviations on individual pages should be obvious: UK = United Kingdom; US = United States; CA = Canada; EU = Europe; FR = France etc.
On occasion unconfirmed details are indicated by an asterisk*.
If you have any evidence of recordings that are not here, or details that appear to be missing, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Relevant art work has been included although a number of images have been (mis)appropriated from the internet and sometimes there is a conglomeration of LP and CD artwork - if you have anything that you feel should also be included by all means get in touch. In particular I neglected to note complete session details of the recordings that were, for a while, available at Philippe Tatartcheff's website and would appreciate it if anyone can supply that information. Likewise feel free to report errors, omissions, suitable web links and any stylistic discrepancies also.
Compiled by Pete Long © 2013, 2016 with a tip of the hat to Todd Compton, Hideki Watanabe and all the contributors to Discogs.com. Thanks as ever to Peter Clarkson, Steve Goldstein & Ron Gomes. Also Geoff Arnold & Simon Montgomery.
Kate & Anna's own website may be accessed here.
Date format is YYYY.MM.DD
Last update January 1, 2016