Bok, Muir & Trickett

The First Fifteen Years, Vol. 1

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Gordon Bok, Ann Mayo Muir, and Ed Trickett have been cult figures on the folk circuit since the early '70s, when they recorded their first album for the tiny Folk Legacy label. Folk Legacy has been rather slow in bowing to the digital imperative, and instead of reissuing the older albums individually, they have decided to release a best-of collection in two volumes. This, the first one, is the best. It includes some of the trio's most affecting work -- the sweet and sad "Johnny Stewart, Drover," Bok's supremely moving "Isle Au Haut Lullabye," his dark and bitter "Ways of Man," and the best version of Eric Bogle's "No Man's Land" on record. Best of all are their hair-raising, a cappella rendition of "How Can I Keep from Singing" and Ed Trickett's gently heartbroken take on "I Drew My Ship." The only clunker is "John," a Larry Kaplan song that has more than enough pathos in its lyrics and didn't need the additional emotional push the trio gives it in performance (a mistake that they notably avoided on "No Man's Land," which is why their version beats June Tabor's). But that's just one track out of 15. Everything else is the finest folk music ever committed to tape.

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