Ralph McTell

The Definitive Transatlantic Collection

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A very good distillation of Ralph McTell's original songs from his three albums released on the Transatlantic label during 1968 and 1969, including the ubiquitous "Streets of London," but also featuring a dozen other worthwhile songs, among them "I'm Sorry I Must Leave" and "Mrs. Adlam's Angels." There's a lot of very good material here, well-written and beautifully arranged (the orchestra on "Eight Frames a Second" sounds like it's in the room with you), though one must say that McTell throws so much emotion into "Streets of London" that it's no wonder that song has dominated his reputation and career -- as opposed to a good "performance," it sounds like a part of life in progress. One wishes that there were a little more analysis and history of each song -- at this late date, only those middle-aged or older are likely to know that the title "London 1914" refers to a far cry from the time in which it was written and recorded. The song selection has also left room for McTell's more blues-oriented work, including "Last Train and Ride," and one wishes that there were more of that kind of diversity to be found in his work from this period -- past a certain point, even his best work can take on a certain flat predictability that makes it seem repetitive.

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