"The definitive recording collection from the world's greatest interpreters of Australian folk music," reads the CD insert. Certainly, this is an impressive album spanning the first 20 years of this legendary band. From 1974's A Shearer's Dream through the reformed 1994 version of the band and its Billy of Tea EP, this compilation contains 36 tracks of predominantly traditional songs revived by the Bushwackers mainly during their first decade of existence. Given the British and Celtic influence present in some factions of Australian bush music (and definitely present here), the Bushwackers bear a considerable likeness to England's Fairport Convention; from fiddle, electric guitar, bass, and even vocal styles, a parallel can be drawn with the Aussie's British counterpart. In addition, Fairport producer John Wood produced two of the Bushwackers' classic '70s albums -- Murrumbidgee and Bushfire -- and drummer Dave Mattacks played on "Augathella Station" and "Streets of Forbes," two tracks from the Murrumbidgee sessions contained here. Trevor Lucas, who was a member of the mid-'70s Fairport Convention and also played on the Bushwackers' Dance Album (1980), introduced "Marijuana Australiana" to Fairport's audience at 1982's Cropredy Festival; that song preceded the British folk-rock fest by one year on the Bushwackers' Faces in the Street album. And more indirectly, the English brass-band configurations heard on Richard Thompson's early to mid-'70s projects are particularly noticeable on "Annie," a song co-written by Eric Clapton. And no Bushwackers compilation would be complete without two of their most popular songs, "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and its companion "Waltzing Matilda," which has become Australia's unofficial national anthem. The former song first appeared on their 1976 album of the same name but this version is from their 1984 pre-breakup album Lively. The latter also appears on their 1976 offering as well as another 1994 EP, Bushwacked!; however, the version included here is a single released in 1982.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Sleger