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VARIOUS ARTISTS "The Folk Awards" Topic Records TSCD850

On the one hand, I'm not sure that I agree with the concept of awards ceremonies, given that they seem to be nothing but an excuse for self-congratulatory excess, yet on the other hand, why should folkies be denied the opportunity for such hoolies? A certain prestige does attach itself to any award, and The Folk Awards are recognised as a main outlet for the industry acknowledging its worthies.

Topic have brought out seventy minutes' worth of material from nineteen different nominees, not, as the title might lead you to expect, from the awards ceremony itself, but rather selected from the artists' back catalogues, so you can track down any that you are particularly interested in and hear more.

Not surprisingly, only quality acts get recognition, so the material here is of an outstanding standard. From the opening 'Bonnie Woodhal' as interpreted by Niamh Parsons all the way to the finishing Copper Family's 'Spencer The Rover' we have songs (and a few tunes) which are good exemplars to showcase the performers.

Various types of music are represented as well, with Taj Mahal & Toumani Diabate ('Ol' Georgie Buck'), Bert Jansch ('Crimson Moon') and e2K ('The Water Is Wide') mixing it with the more traddie types such as Roy Bailey ('Brigg Fair') and Vin Garbutt ('City Of Angels').

A good compilation, with good notes about the songs and artists, which will serve well as a taster as well as a demonstration of high standards, this CD also helps to make the case for having awards ceremonies by letting any listener know just what folkies are capable of.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 43 of The Living Tradition magazine.