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OYSTERBAND - This House Will Stand

OYSTERBAND - This House Will Stand
Navigator Records NAVIGATOR096

Tricky business, selecting the runners and riders for an Oysterband 'Best Of', even when you limit the exercise to just the last 18 years. Some personal favourites are bound to be missing; wot, no Bury Me Standing? Likewise No Ordinary Girl, where is she when you need her?

The other hazard is that some alternative versions of other songs for which you have a particular affection will just sound sort of wrong. Mississippi Summer, for instance, is uncomfortably naked without June Tabor, although her fruitful collaboration with the Oysters is way-marked by Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Alongside some straight lifts from their more recent albums, there is a subtly different take on Dancing As Fast As I Can that does the job just as well as the original. For Oysters devotees, though, most of the interest will be in the new or previously hard to find material on the second CD.

I Built This House – a line from which gives the whole collection its title – is a classic Oysters anthem that starts Part Two, sounding both fresh and familiar; heavy on the string section too. Other tracks with obvious appeal to one of folk/roots’ most loyal fan-bases include Ways Of Holding On, featuring gorgeous Scandinavian vocals from Emma Hardelin, and Bold Riley, a reminder that John Jones, possessor of one of the great folk voices, should really play a bit more squeezebox. No need for that in The Cornish Farewell Shanty, a finishing song in live shows, when they step forward and leave the mics behind, and a fitting finale here too.

Good stuff from start to finish, in fact, but what would you expect from Oysterband?

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.