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November 2007

October 2007

Albums of 2007: vintage year, gem of a winner

Martin1_2 Martin Simpson pictured by David Angel

James_keelaghanJames Keelaghan from his official site

Rachel Unthank by Northern Sky

November is not even upon us, but I have decided to present an early list of my albums of 2007.

It is possible that something may yet come along to challenge my verdict.

But I would be astonished if the remaining two months of the year, rarely the most active period for important new releases as opposed to Christmas target material, produced a serious rival for Salut! Live’s folk album of the year.

Martin Simpson take a bow.

When Prodigal Son appeared, I said only something quite exceptional would shake my conviction that this was a record that was unlikely to be bettered. And so it has proved, despite a stream of compelling CDs from James Keelaghan, Lau, Rachel Unthank and the Winterset………the list goes on, and you will see it in full if you bear with me.

You will also discover the reason why Kate Rusby is denied her rightful No 2 slot and has to make do with a special award.

This has been a vintage year for folk. But never forget one golden rule: what you see here is intended as a guide, not an instruction. If you already know you share my tastes, or think you do, all but one of the albums listed can be bought at knockdown prices from my record shelf Salut! Listens in the sidebar to your right (or from the artist's own site in Talitha MacKenzie's case). I will find suitable prizes for the best three Comments* posted at Salut! Live and identifying releases you think I have overlooked.

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Salut!: Live tonight in Barnsley and beyond

AwkwardIn case there is anyone out there who travels, electronically, from this site to Kate Rusby's - and I am well aware of the traffic in the other direction, for which I am mightily grateful - I have a spot of breaking news.

An e-mail from her sister Emma alerts me to the fact that my new biography cum introduction to the Awkward Annie album has now been published at Kate's site.

There is also a jolly bonus track called Potted Kate, with mostly one-line responses to my questions, all intended to shed a little more light on the exceptional artist and lady that Kate is.

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The year so far (4)

My decision to sack the Daily Telegraph (almost exactly a year after it fired me, if you know what I mean) means that I have only a couple more album reviews to mention in the Salut! Live series The Year So Far. Read on to find those reviews which I have decided to reproduce in full and precisely as written rather than as an extract of the post-editing published version.

I have greatly enjoyed writing about folk music, and occasionally folk's offshoots, over the past two decades. At the fRoots and UK Music Folk discussion forums, one or two people have remarked kindly on my efforts.

But I leave for my new job in Abu Dhabi this weekend and this is an appointment that has offered an obvious cut-off point. As I have already mentioned here, my review of Fairport Convention's remastered Liege and Lief CD was clearly the right moment to call it a day.

It is not, however, my album of the year. Just possibly, something else will crop up in the two-and-a-half months that remain, but it will have to be truly exceptional to dislodge Prodigal Son by the magnificent Martin Simpson (pictured above by David Angel) from its current place at the top of my list.

And as promised Salut! Live lives on. I will post as often as my new work allows. When albums reach me, I shall review as many of them as I can. I will continue to offer reminiscences, conduct interviews across our shrinking world and comment on developments in music that capture my attention.

Back to those last two Telegraph reviews:

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