Since 1991 when Show Of Hands became a full time duo, they have released six studio albums, four live recordings, three CDs of covers, traditional songs and instrumentals respectively, and an album of songs from the earliest cassette only recordings. For CD one of this compilation, the band have chosen their favourite tracks from each of the studio albums, plus live versions of three songs, "The Blue Cockade", "Cousin Jack" and "The Galway Farmer" that were felt to put earlier recorded versions in the shade. Four songs that have become concert standards, but hitherto existed only as live or low-key studio tracks, have been re-recorded: "Crow On The Cradle", "Santiago", "Are We Alright" and "Exile". Ten years ago a group of SOH fans created an Internet based forum and called themselves 'Longdogs'. They were asked to pick one track from each album and CD two is their choice. All 30 songs have been re-mastered. "It's been said that one of us builds the house whilst the other decorates it. This album has given us an opportunity to stand back for once and look through the window at all our labours. For that we thank all our friends and supporters." - Steve Knightley
This is a great `Best Of'. The first CD is packed with some of the Devon folk duo's most distinctive tracks from their 15-year partnership, shot through with the fiery liberal patriotism of Knightley's lyrics about the rural West Country (`Roots' and `Country Life'). The second disc consists of 14 tracks selected by fans from the `Longdogs' internet forum, a nice idea that throws up some real gems. What's more, this collection is interspersed with live recordings that lift the energy above the predictability of many `Best Of' albums.
Phil Beer's fiddle playing is sensational, particularly on `The Falmouth Packet/Haul Away Joe', where his furious strings conjure up the boats bobbing in Falmouth harbour. While there are a couple of more abstract love songs (`Are We Alright?' and `You're Mine') that feel weaker than the rest, in the main Knightley's storytelling is full of depth and character. It is a cold heart that is not stirred by the hard tales of `Widecombe Fair', `The Keeper' and `The Bristol Slaver', or the Spanish warmth of `Santiago' and `Armadas', or the Cornish pride in `Cousin Jack'. The take on Sydney Carter's `Crow on the Cradle' is haunting, and when double bass player Miranda Sykes joins Knightley on vocals for `The Blue Cockade' there is a new dimension to the band's sound. It is in these little details that Show of Hands comes to life. The setting of Charles Causley's poem to music in `Innocents' Song' will stay with you long after the music stops.
Nathaniel Handy -- Songlines magazine, March 2008 (#50)