A Review of the Various Artistes CD
"Transatlantic Folk Box Set"

"Transatlantic Folk Box Set"
by Various Artistes

Sanctuary Midline SMETD137

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 3/05

It is customary when reviewing a big compilation album boxed set like this, to be slightly patronising and suggest that it is an ideal primer for young Folkies who want a crash course in those things that look like Frisbees but actually were called “LPs”, and could produce (well, so dad says!) a sound a bit like a hiss-filled CD.

Well, to heck with “custom”. This collection is an absolute must for any Folkie from 9 to 99. It absolutely bowled me over, despite me being the owner of many of the LPs from which the tracks are extracted.

Quite why it had the effect on me it did, is easy to explain. First, it was so pleasing to hear these tracks without the surface hiss. And what an astonishing number of tracks there are! An unbelievable SEVENTY. A total running time of 3 hours 51 minutes. Talk about value for money…!

And if that was not enough, this handsome set has some quality liner notes from David Wells. Really LITERATE notes that do not make any concessions: well, just tell me if YOU have ever read a phrase like “sturm und drang” outside the pages of The Gramophone Magazine, let alone in a folk album's liner notes before?

Wells explains the birth, brief life and eventual demise of the UK-based Transatlantic label. And golly, was it not some blazing meteor while it lived! And it attracted the cream of British folk performers, who are well represented here.

Of course the batting order is critical, as it is with all compilation CDs. Quite often deliberate juxtapositioning helps: but often Old Ma Serendipity does the trick. For instance, I would never have thought of following Ralph McTell's “England 1914” with Leon Rosselson's “The Rules of the Game”, but gosh the pairing works a treat.

And what a delight it was to hear tracks genuinely new to me: where could I have been to have missed Lea Nicholson's quirky “God Bless the Unemployed”? I thought I'd known all his output.

And Matt McGinn's “Eternity Will Soon Be Over”? (Re this cut: can that REALLY be him? His voice here sounds almost FEMININE: not an adjective I would have immediately thought of, having been privileged to see him once perform LIVE.)

I could write ten thousand words on this absorbing collection, but alas “space restrictions” decree otherwise. So I will end by saying that whilst this is by no means the first boxed set covering a ramble down Folk's Memory Lane that I have reviewed in these pages, it is - by some distance - the best.

Buy CD from www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.co.uk
Info from info@sanctuaryrecords.co.uk

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

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