Jack Merry at your service! Do come in. Put your wet duster and boots over by the fireplace. Let's have a cup of Glengettie tea to warm our bones.

We're putting together the issue for this outing. Yes, you correctly noticed that there's 'nought but music omnibuses this outing. No book reviews, no live performance reviews, no film reviews. Ahhh, and doesn't that make for an interesting tale!

Has Kim Bates, our Music Editor, ever shown you the piles of recordings that we get in? Some of them come because we ask for them -- she says that accounts for 'bout a third of what we get, some thirty to forty a month -- but some two-thirds of everything we get in the mail is quite unsolicited. Like a spaghetti western, the latter often could be described as 'the good, the bad, and the ugly.' The ugliest by far would be the poor lost souls who learned to play a guitar a week ago (or so it seems from the almost complete lack of talent shown) and decided that they too were singer-songwriters, so they penned a collection of really awful lyrics and put out a recording. (Shudder!) Maggie (our resident corvid) and her brood of wee bairns really hate these recordings -- they go cawing out of the building when we put one on. Or else they do something foul!

So we weed. If you want to hear some of the really ugly recordings we didn't review, search the Infinite Jukebox for the music in the 'merde' genre as we keep copies of much of it to train new reviewers on what makes a terribly awful album. Just don't play any of it when Maggie's around or we'll need to replace the speakers! Yes, she ripped one off the wall the last time a particularly awful disc was played...

(The Infinite Jukebox holds what amounts to hundreds of thousands of albums worth of material ranging from live recordings of Johnny Cunningham with Nightnoise to a complete set of Nazgul's recorded output including the Mesa concert. If you've heard of it anywhere, it's likely you'll find it here. Even if it was never recorded in this reality. I kid you not.)

Only one disc in three or four is deemed worthy of seeing if a reviewer wants to write it up. (Not all recordings the Music Editor thinks should be reviewed actually get someone interested in them. That's just what happens.) That leaves maybe fifty to seventy recordings a month needing a review. Now assuming our reviewers have lives outside of just reviewing for us, there's only so many recordings that are going to get in-depth reviews. Obviously a new Steeleye Span will get a full in-depth review, or the latest tasty recording from Wildgoose Studio, one of our favourite English labels, but what do you do with four Latvian folk music CDs that need reviewing? You do what Barb Truex does this week -- you put them into one thoughtfully reasoned omnibus. Or perhaps you're John O'Regan, one of the best Irish music journos ever, who always entertains me when I read his Celtic music omnibuses. Yes, there are several reviews by John this outing!