Rounder Records claims to be "America's premier indie label since 1970", and it has certainly played a crucial role in promoting roots artists the majors would have ignored. Now itself part of a major (Rounder has joined the Decca/Universal roster), it will hopefully retain its independence and enjoy yet more exposure for its country, folk, blues and bluegrass catalogue. This 22-track compilation is a reminder of the label's range. There's nothing from the bestselling collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, but Krauss demonstrates her crossover bluegrass appeal with her regular band, Union Station, on Crazy As Me. Rounder has a strong female roster, and though their fine New Orleans fiddler Amanda Shaw is mysteriously ignored, there's blues here from Madeleine Peyroux and the soulful Irma Thomas, along with country-bluegrass from the all-girl Uncle Earl, and folk from our own Linda Thompson. The male contributions range from Cajun stars Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys to Loudon Wainwright III, with a reminder that he, too, was once signed to Rounder, when he recorded the witty I'm Alright back in the mid-80s.
Robin Denselow is a journalist and broadcaster who specialises in music and politics. He is the author of When The Music's Over, a history of political pop