Oysterband: The Big Session, Volume 1

Once regarded as prominent torchbearers of the alternative folk-rock movement along with the Pogues and Men They Couldn’t Hang (some even labeled them as punks), Oysterband have gradually settled into the role of venerable, thoughtful folkies. In fact, perhaps to their chagrin, Oysterband now more closely resembles artists like Fairport Convention and Richard & Linda Thompson than they might be willing to admit. On this, their umpteenth release, they are joined by longtime friend June Tabor (remember FREEDOM AND RAIN), Eliza Carthy and members of Show of Hands and Chicago alt-country group Handsome Family, among others. There is nothing particularly alternative here, instead, reliable British folk-rock in the classic mold; “John Barleycorn” is performed in the Fairport style and the a cappella “The New Jerusalem” sounds as if it belongs on any number of Steeleye Span albums. This album is so chock full of inspirational and moving songs that it begs the question, when will THE BIG SESSION, VOLUME 2 be released?

February 2005

Dave Sleger


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