Midlake’s influences across the folk rock scenes of the 1960s and 1970s are well known, so in many respects their role as the latest curator in the Late Night Tales series will produce few surprises.
As expected this 19 track compilation is dominated by UK folk legends from the past such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, as well as some of their key US influences, including The Band and Flying Burrito Brothers.
But there’s also a welcome acceptance that some modern acts are also influencing them. Bjork’s ‘Unravel’ gets a place as does ‘Silver Soul’ from Beach House’s excellent 2010 album Teen Dream.
There’s the odd curveball as well. Scott Walker does not immediately spring to mind when I think of Midlake, but his track Copenhagen is a welcome addition, adding some tranquil gravitas. The final carousel moment on that track is especially wonderous. Will Self’s story The Happy Detective is another odd choice, but one that works.
All good compilations need to stick to a theme, in this case to provide a set of songs to drift off to in the evening. Midlake achieve this perfectly. What better way to relax than to listen to the beautiful sounds of one of the UK’s finest ever folk singers Sandy Denny.
Good compilations also need to provide some obscurities and the chance to discover your next favourite band. ‘Times the Thief’ by 1970s Edinburgh folk rock act Bread, Love and Dreams certainly fits that bill. This is especially as it features the unmistakable rhythm section of Pentangle’s drummer Terry Cox and bassist Danny Thompson.
Final mention must go to Midlake, who include an exclusive and well worked acoustic cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Am I going Insane’ to the collection.
For fans of Midlake (whose album Trials of Von Occupanther is #80 in our Top 100 Albums of all time list) this compilation is a must as they take you through their record collection. But it also acts as a pretty fine introduction to some of the best folk music to come out of the UK, with many of the tracks on this compilation featured within our Top Ten Albums From The Golden Age Of UK Folk feature.
by Joe Lepper