Oysterband Granite Years: Best of 1986-'97

Fans of Great Big Sea and the Paperboys would do well to dive into this collection of rousing folk-rock that's guaranteed to clear the deck and bring your blood to an animated boil. Built on the basis of traditional English and Celtic dance traditions as a starting point, this landmark crew shook the very foundations of folk-dom with their supercharged rock rhythms and swirling melodies in 1972 and have yet to calm down. Through many personnel changes, the Oysterband has forged a high-spirited punk-inspired folk music behind the incendiary fiddle of Ian Telfer and the in-your-face vocals of John Jones. Collaborations with the likes of Richard Thompson, June Tabor and Shane McGowan have helped keep them fresh, yet there's no touching the Oysters for their consistency and moody intensity. The Oysterband doesn't do anything in half measures - from dark despair to frenzied, fist-waving anthems - making this anthology, spanning from 1986 to '97, an essential package for the uninitiated. (True North)