I first heard this sung by Martin Carthy on the LP But Two Came By. It’s a fine version, but I’m sure Martin would be the first to agree that the definitive recording of the song is that made of a seventy five year old Lincolnshire farm bailiff in 1908.
That singer of course was Joseph Taylor of Saxby All Saints, from whom the Australian composer Percy Grainger recorded a number of fine, beautifully-sung pieces on an Edison cylinder machine – although in this case the recording was made at a specially-arranged London session for the Gramophone Company.
Grainger’s recordings were made available in the 1970s on Unto Brigg Fair, a lavishly-produced Leader LP. Long unavailable of course, but several recordings of Joseph Taylor were included on Topic’s Voice of the People series. ‘Creeping Jane’ can be found on Volume 8 A Story I’m Just About to Tell, and if you’ve never heard Joseph Taylor’s singing, I really can’t recommend it too highly.
Rod Stradling, in reviewing that particular CD, wrote
Beyond the technological miracle which allows us to hear Joseph Taylor with such clarity some ninety years after he was recorded, is the joy of being able to hear such a consummate performer at all. He’s just breathtaking