The McGarrigles' eponymous first album from 1975 must rank as one of the finest debuts of all time, and the fact that 1977's follow-up "Dancer With Bruised Knees" was almost every bit its equal makes this an essential purchase for anyone not already smitten. Or for anyone seeking the improved audio quality of the remastered versions.
Pick a track, any track, and be converted.
The extras on the third disc - largely a collection of piano demos - whilst good on their own terms inevitably pale by comparison with the sparkling gems on the two remastered albums. Indeed, it seems like the label made a policy decision to empty out the whole cupboard, what with three versions in total of "Heart Like A Wheel" and three of "(Talk To Me Of) Mendocino" but none of the demos comes close to the beauty and pathos of the released versions.
Whilst unquestionably of historical and musical interest, the previously unreleased tracks aren't in the same league as those on the recent "Odditties" album. Notable among these, though, are "The Work Song", originally written for Maria Muldaur and included on her debut album, "Over The Hill" and "Oliver, Remember Me".
Kate & Anna recorded a third album, "Pronto Monto", for Warners in 1978. Whilst not quite scaling the same heights, it was nonetheless another very fine body of work. Mystifyingly, it has never been released on CD and so it's strange, if not downright perverse, that Nonesuch have passed up an ideal opportunity of righting that particular wrong. Unless, of course, they have other plans for it.
After that, the McGarrigles went on to record for other labels (including producer Joe Boyd's own Hannibal imprint). One day, someone will release a comprehensive "Best Of" collection spanning their entire career, but in the meantime these first two releases could reasonably stake a claim to that monicker all for themselves. Sublime.