This first collaboration between the Oyster Band and June Tabor in 1990 produced an exceptional collection of rocking, upbeat songs. The youthful exuberance of `Freedom and Rain' sets it apart from the more mature 2011 reunion album `Ragged Kingdom' which, though good in parts, contains some downbeat traditional dirges less to the taste of some fans.
No dirges on F&R. The fine opener is a cover of `Mississippi Summer' ("I hope that I don't die before the harvest comes") followed by an upbeat version of Shane McGowan's `Lullaby of London'; an intense rhythmic take on Richard Thompson's `Night Comes In', Billy Bragg's `Valentine's Day is Over' and Lou Reed's `All Tomorrow's Parties'. Trad folk songs `Dives and Lazarus', `Dark Eyed Sailor' and `Susie Clelland' are also given the rocking Oyster Band treatment and fit right in with the album's adventurous style.
F&R managed to get the formula exactly right. Oyster band never sounded better, and it's a high point in Tabor's illustrious career. Trad and unashamedly modern at the same time, it's one of a kind and a classic of the British folk-rock genre.