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RALPH MCTELL "The Best of ." ESACD 880 Double CD
"What's Been Did and What's Been Hid" CMRCD 361
"Fairytale" CMRCD 360
"Anthology - Road to Kingdom Come" ESACD 884 Double CD

British singer-songwriting anthologised and re-released by these nice people at Castle Music (again)! The Ralph McTell double is a elightful trawl through Ralph's back-catalogue with most of the favourites there ... Streets of London, Spiral Staircase, Factory Girl etc - all those songs I learned from the songbook, way back when. It's a lovely collection, but as with the Jansch/etc stuff above - such CDs already exist. Do we need more? The same can be said for the Lindisfarne collection - excellent, good-time, fine songwriting, songs about wee-wees against the wall that made me titter as a schoolboy - nostalgia and much more, but nothing significant that isn't in earlier "Best ofs". However, Lindisfarne completists will enjoy the live tracks and this is a great CD to have if you only own one by Lindisfarne.

The Donovan items are arguably slightly more interesting, as they are part of Castle's nice programme of re-issuing vintage material in old-style packaging, re-mastered and bonus-tracked. This is Donovan as skilled and engaging Dylan-imitator, able to produce memorable songs like Colours and Catch the Wind. I remember learning them from a "Best of Donovan" on a cheapie record label back around 1970! These actual albums are a little before my time as an active folkie, so it's interesting, intriguing and instructive to hear them as they were at the time - in the order intended. Latterly, Donovan drifted into an equally engaging hippy-dippy phase and it's fun to hear the Beatle-capped troubadour before the metamorphosis took place!

In all of this, the Donovan CDs entertained me the most, perversely enough - almost entirely because it's "new" to me in this (original) form - whereas all the rest is largely in my CD drawer anyway, in some form.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.