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Various Artists

Rounder Records' 40th Anniversary Concert

(Rounder; US: 1 Mar 2010; UK: Available on import)

Venerated roots label Rounder has been in business for forty years. Rounder Records’ 40th Anniversary Concert presents highlights of said concert, which was held last year at the Grand Old Opry House to celebrate that anniversary, as well as several performances culled from other shows at other venues. While listeners will have their own complaints about who has or hasn’t been featured, it’s an enjoyable collection showcasing a range of artists from across the label’s roster. Minnie Driver croons warm country-jazz, while Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas offers a lively, crowd-pleasing set. Allison Krauss and Robert Plant seduce on “Rich Woman” from the massive Raising Sand, and Krauss also teams up with Union Station to unleash a disarming brand of elegance and twang on two tracks from the album Lonely Runs Both Ways. Irma Thomas contributes a heartfelt “River is Waiting” and a strident “Don’t Mess With My Man”, while Madeleine Peyroux delivers a spare, jazzy take on Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love”. There’s fine picking from Steve Martin and Bela Fleck, the inspirational piety of “Why Shouldn’t We?” and a sturdy “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” from Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the whole company assembles for an exuberant closing melody of “Angels Watching Over Me”, “I’ll Fly Away” and “Down By The Riverside”. It’s pleasant, tasteful, accomplished—like a Prairie Home Companion special, minus the more surreal interludes. Here’s to another forty years, guys.

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Alex Ramon lives in London, UK, and teaches English literature and film at Kingston University and the University of Reading. He holds a PhD in English and is the author of the book Liminal Spaces: The Double Art of Carol Shields (2008). In addition to writing for PopMatters, Wears The Trousers and The Public Reviews, he's been known to blog here: http://boycottingtrends.blogspot.com/. And to tweet @BoycottTrends.


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