The influence of unaccompanied singing group the Watersons on the British folk revival has long been acknowledged as huge. This CD, which collect their cuts from the 1965 New Voices compilation along with The Watersons and A Yorkshire Garland (both 1966), captures a lot of the appeal of Norma, Lal, and Mike Waterson, who, with their cousin John Harrison, comprised the group. And, along with the Frost and Fire album (available separately), it rounds up the output of their early days, prior to their initial breakup in 1968 (they'd re-form four years later). The music itself is glorious, the voices completely unself-conscious, the harmonies stirring, whether on something as well-known as "Twanky-Dillo" or any of the more obscure songs from A Yorkshire Garland, which explored their native county. Of greatest interest is the way Norma and Lal's voices work together, bringing a young freshness to their vocals, and reinventing the traditional material in a way that it can hit a new, younger generation -- indeed, it still sounds completely vital and passionate today. And the inclusion of the previously unreleased "Rap Her to Bank," recorded for (but not included on) The Watersons, means this even has collector's appeal, too -- but it'll be the newcomer who'll be most moved by this excellent collection.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson