Various Artists

Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl

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Celebrating the centenary of his birth, Compass Records has compiled this glowing two-disc tribute to British folk icon Ewan MacColl. MacColl's influence on the British folk revival of the '50s and '60s is immeasurable and the range of artists who lined up to pay homage includes both newcomers and folk legends in their own right. Members of the Waterson and Carthy clans are well-represented here and are predictably well-suited to the material. Martin Carthy's sprightly rendition of "I'm Champion at Keeping 'Em Rolling" gets to the meat of MacColl's bold charm while daughter Eliza Carthy delivers one of the collection's standouts in the rousing "Thirty-Foot Trailer." Likewise, Norma Waterson (mother of Eliza Carthy) and niece Marry Waterson each offer a cut of their own to great success. Folk luminaries like Scotland's Dick Gaughan and former Planxty members Christy Moore and Paul Brady appear alongside MacColl's many rock admirers like Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), David Gray, Paul Buchanan (the Blue Nile), and Bombay Bicycle Club. Other highlights include Karine Polwart's chilling take on the powerful "The Terror Time," Kathryn Williams' gentle reading of "Alone," and Chaim Tannenbaum's poignant rendering of "My Old Man." But these are just the brighter spots in an already bright field of songs that have been treated with the utmost care and concern, which is a testament to both MacColl's great body of work and the musicians who were affected by it.

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