Navigator Records [Release date 27.05.16]
This is a 2CD, 29 song collection from the Oysterband covering their latter day output from 1998 to the present day. They started out back in 1977/78 as the Oyster Ceilidh Band before morphing into the Oysterband. They have not had the massive crossover success of Bellowhead or Runrig, both who attract folk music fans and the general music fan in equal measure. However, in folk circles they are held in high esteem and had two albums in ‘Folk Roots’ albums of 1986-2015 public vote, one a collaboration with June Tabor.
The two CD’s highlight the band’s more traditional folk leanings on ‘Blackwaterside’, then the jaunty almost pop rock of ‘The Soul’s Electric’ would appeal to many with its massively catchy chorus. Listening to ‘Dancing As Fast As I Can’ does bring to mind Runrig, whilst they tackle modern political issues on ‘Here Comes The Flood’.
Their version of the Joy Division classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ with June Tabor is a must listen. What a beautifully crafted and heart wrenching cover they created.
The second disc is one for the fans as it features the unreleased songs be they demos or live versions, plus a new song ‘I Built This House’. A song that shows they have lost none of their ability to comment on modern life and get a message across wrapped in a great tune. The musicianship of the band is another highlight, mixing the traditional folk sounds of violin and mandolin with electric guitars and synths/keyboards.
‘The Sailor’s Bonnet’ on the second disc recalls the band’s earlier dance band flavoured days, and another traditional music treat is ‘I Once Loved A Lass’ – a song previously only available on fRoots magazine compilation.
A collection for the band’s fans and one that will hopefully introduce the band’s fine catalogue of music to a wider musical audience. ****1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
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