16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Ultimate folk rock,
By A Customer
This review is from: Granite Years: Best Of 1986-1997 (Audio CD)
For those who remember the folk-rock revival of the early 1990s spearheaded by the Levellers, and wonder where on earth it came from and where it went, this album is an absolute must because it answers both questions with ringing clarity. The Oysterband in many ways reinvented the folk-rock sound for the English post-punk audience; like their Celtic contemporaries The Alarm and Big Country they managed a combination of thunderous instrumentation and powerful social and political commentary whilst still managing to move the heart to mourn, or to dance. This compilation is very nearly a "best of", and with two very full CDs' worth of music it is one that is difficult to tire of. I say "nearly" a best of, because there are a few flaws to this compilation - the fact that virtually the whole of the "Holy Bandits" album appears on disc 1 smacks of some less than thorough editing on behalf of the record company, and the inexplicable absence of all but one track from the seminal "Freedom and Rain" collaboration with June Tabor is just mystifying. Nonetheless, there's enough material on here to cover all shades of emotion - from the faultless, infectious opening of "When I'm Up..." to the dark melancholy of "Put Out the Lights" - and a host of social and political comment that sounds no less relevant today than it did in the mid 1980s. I came to this compilation already well acquainted with a select few of the Oysterband's albums, and this has certainly whetted my appetite for more. Personal favourite tracks: "The Road to Santiago" with its leftfield but affectionate take on the quirks of religious rituals; "The Deserter", a simply spine-tingling piece which seems to reveal new shades of meaning every time I listen to it; "All That Way for This", which seems peculiarly pertinent when stuck in traffic on the M1 on the way to work; and "Coal Not Dole/Bells of Rhymney", a nod back in time to the great protest songs of the folk tradition, becoming a heavy-metal guitar anthem guaranteed to have you screaming out along with them exactly what you think of Mrs. Thatcher...