Various Artists

Folk Rock Antholgy [DVD]

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Folk Rock Anthology is a collection of performance clips drawn from the assembled archives of the Classic Rock Legends label, consisting principally (though not entirely) of late-'90s and early- 21st century recordings. Obviously, with most of the acts (among them Fairport Convention, the Strawbs, Steeleye Span, and Lindisfarne), we're not getting the classic original lineups. On the other hand, we are getting state-of-the-art video and audio, so that Fairport's performances of "Matty Groves" and "Dirty Linen" are loud and crisp, with lots of detail, and very intense; and those impressed with electric violin will be suitably delighted with the performance from Cropredy in 2001. Each clip is divided by a rotating title-card identifying the band in question and the song, and this whole disc is a great showcase, not only for the latter-day incarnations of veteran acts, but also for lesser-known performers such as Mostly Autumn, whose "Prints in the Stone" is a studio performance done as a music video, and still worth the price of admission; it's simply so gorgeous. Karnataka is seen in a mix of live performances interspersed with studio-generated images. Pentangle is seen in their original lineup from way-back-when, in their French television performance. Ironically, it is a Strawbs' performance -- appropriately enough, of "Ringing Down the Years" -- that is presented in memory of Sandy Denny (she did sing with them, but she is primarily associated with Fairport Convention). Everyone is in at least good form, but the most startling performance here is by Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span, whose singing and fierce stage presence on "Come Ye O'er Frae France," "Thomas the Rhymer," and "Black Jack Davy" are extraordinary. There are no extras, such as background interviews or behind-the-scenes footage, with any of the acts; each song gets a chapter marker, and the disc opens on a simple menu offering options for playing everything and the full-chapter selection. The quality of the music and images, and the selection of songs easily make this a choice DVD for British folk or folk-rock enthusiasts (in fact, a no-brainer for the latter -- the folk purists may not like the amplification, of course).