The Watersons

The Definitive Collection

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In the wake of the recent, superb box set, it's hard to imagine a single disc being definitive of one of Britain's great folk singing groups. At best, you can touch on their different facets and legacy. But Definitive Collection actually does a splendid job. There are the hymns, the traditional songs, and some of the permutations (Lal and Norma, Mike, even the late Peter Bellamy), as well as tracks by Waterson:Carthy and Blue Murder, who carry on the flame of the original Watersons in many ways (especially Blue Murder, which is essentially Waterson:Carthy plus Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson). The tracks are from their "Topic" albums (which means, because of licensing, nothing from the original, wonderful Bright Phoebus release is here), but all of those that are here are wonderful, and sung with such naturalness that they epitomize what folk singing should be about. There's no sense of premeditation about their performances. This is simply who they are, and their way of expressing themselves. It's not Mighty River of Song, which really is definitive, but as an introduction to the Watersons, and an overview of their massive achievements in folk music, this works excellently.

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