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VARIOUS ARTISTES "Beginner's Guide to Folk Music" Nascente NSBOX 002

This triple album is presumably aimed at newcomers to the Folk genre, and is designed to help them get "up to speed" as soon as possible. Now, the very idea involves something of a minefield: whichever 30 tracks you choose to make up a "Folk Primer", you are guaranteed to incur the wrath of your average Folkie who will be stunned at the exclusion of what he regards as seminal tracks.

Of course, he may not know the licensing problems involved: it is FAR from an easy matter to get permission to release a copyrighted track in a compilation CD. And, I have to say that given those problems, Nascente have done a rather good job of things. They have sensibly made things simpler by choosing to devote an individual CD to English Folk, Celtic Folk and American Folk respectively. This way the newcomer to Folk becomes aware of origins and influences. And of the three albums, I think I like the Celtic one the most.

One curious aspect however, was the lack of a song in either Irish or Scots Gaelic. At first I assumed this was due to their realisation that the vast majority of their potential audience would not understand the words, but then I noted that a song in Welsh by Fernhill was included. Mind you, I am not complaining about the lack of Gaelic, because had such a song been added, something would have to have been deleted to make room for it. And it could well have been the delightful Gently Tender by The Incredible String Band", and that would have been a pity, as this little oddity is unjustly forgotten.

Talking of the idiosyncratic: it was pushing things a bit to see John Martyn included on the "Celtic" CD. And singing Spencer The Rover to boot! Yes, I know he hails from Glasgow, but his inclusion reminds me of the old saying about the cat who goes into a disused oven to have her kittens. The fact that her offspring are thus born in an oven does not make them BUNS. And John Martyn singing Spencer The Rover can never be "CELTIC Folk"!

But these are minor matters. I tip my hat to Nascente on a good choice of artistes. I was particularly pleased to see Bonnie Dobson's name again: hers is a shamefully neglected name, one, which never gets anything like the airplay it, deserves. Incidentally, she is included on the "American" CD, and the sleeve notes make no reference to the fact that she is Canadian. Presumably Nascente knew this, but omitted to mention it.

Ah, but now, THERE'S an idea! For their next project, Nascente should come up with a "Canadian Folk" CD. And I rather fancy it could be the best of the lot.

Dai Woosnam.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.