The Definitive Collection CD
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Martin Simpson is simply one of the world's finest acoustic guitarists who figures in everybody's shortlist of the truly great players. A musician of extraordinary technical skill and versatility, he is at once unpredictable, individual and a player of great subtlety. He is also an accomplished singer who is equally at home with English and American songs. Twice winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician Of The Year Award, his Topic album THE BRAMBLE BRIAR also won Album Of The Year Award in 2002. Now permanently resident in the UK, Martin plays up and down the country winning ever-expanding audiences for his accomplished blend of songs and instrumental virtuosity. THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION draws on Martin's recordings for Topic and other labels, including tracks from exclusive anthologies. As a bonus it also includes an advance track from his next Topic release not due until 2005. Highlights include Bob Dylan's "Boots Of Spanish Leather", Richard Thompson's "Down Where The Drunkards Roll" and the traditional song "The Plains Of Waterloo". Over 75 minutes long and at a budget price, this is a must buy for all fans and newcomers alike. Full track listing attached.
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I came across Martin Simpson because he was doing a gig in a very small venue in Camden Town (near where I was living at the time), shortly after the 'Prodigal Son' album came out. Live in an intimate setting, he was captivating, and humble enough to talk to me afterwards a little.
He's in touch with where he began: he's from Lincolnshire, and that's very much part of him, as are his songs about his father. But his imagination is large - his instrumental rendition of 'James Connolly' (that's the Irish labour leader strapped wounded to a chair and executed after the 1916 uprising in Ireland) is poignant.
I'm told by people who understand these things he's a brilliant guitarist. He's also a great ballad singer.
If you already have a pile of Martin Simpson records, you won't have learned much from my review, and you may well also already have all the tracks on this compilation.
If you are new to Martin Simpson, buy it. The worst that can happen is that, once you've heard it, you buy all the other records. Surely one of the greatest English singers of our time.
But he's a superb guitarist, decent banjo player, and also a good singer - though certainly not, as someone says, 'one of the greatest' - and there are some fantastic tracks here. At times it reminds me of early Ry Cooder, and that's not a bad thing to have said about you. The quality and particularly the production declines noticeably for the third album - but that was the 80s for you.
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