Album: Various Artists, Meet on the Ledge: an Island Records Folk-Rock Anthology (Island)

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The Independent Culture

Rarely can a record label's 50th anniversary have been quite as lavishly celebrated as Island's, but then rarely has a record label actually merited such celebration as Island.

Several triple-disc anthologies are being released focusing on Island's reggae, underground, post-punk and folk-rock catalogues, of which this latter may be the most wide-ranging. It captures a period of significant change in British culture, when the fading heritage of traditional folk music was returned to the broad mass of the people through miscegenated liaison with rock music. Suddenly, anything seemed possible: folk guitarists such as John Martyn attained hitherto unimaginable levels of stardom, bands such as Traffic and Jethro Tull added folk themes and styles to their repertoires, and all modes of expression, from lysergic whimsy to insular solipsism, became acceptable. At the core of this revolution was Fairport Convention. They're well represented here, most notably on "A Sailor's Life", in which the skirling whorls of guitar and fiddle embrace shanty, raga and Arabic influences, a brilliant evocation of a sailor's international experience.

Download this: "A Sailor's Life", "John Barleycorn (Must Die)", "Matty Groves", "Black Jack David", "May You Never", "One of These Things First"

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