Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome – The Seeger Sessions (2006)

FrontCover1.jpgWe Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is the fourteenth studio album by Bruce Springsteen. It peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 49th Grammy Awards.

This is Springsteen’s first and so far only album of entirely non-Springsteen material and contains his interpretation of thirteen folk music songs made popular by activist folk musician Pete Seeger. As an activist and artist of folk music, Seeger did not write any of the songs on the album. His life’s work focused on popularizing and promoting the ethic of local, historical musical influences and recognizing the cultural significance that folk music embodies.

The record began in 1997, when Springsteen recorded “We Shall Overcome” for the Where Have All the Flowers Gone: the Songs of Pete Seeger tribute album, released the following year. Springsteen had not known much about Seeger given his rock and roll upbringing and orientation, and proceeded to investigate and listen to his music.[2] While playing them in his house, his 10-year-old daughter said, “Hey, that sounds like fun,” which caused Springsteen to get interested in further exploring the material and genre.

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Via Soozie Tyrell, the violinist in the E Street Band, Springsteen hooked up with a group of lesser-known musicians from New Jersey and New York City, and they recorded in an informal, large band setting in Springsteen’s Colts Neck, New Jersey farm.[2] In addition to Tyrell, previous Springsteen associates The Miami Horns as well as wife Patti Scialfa augmented the proceedings. This group would become The Sessions Band. The subsequent Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour expanded on the album’s musical approach.

The album, like its predecessor Devils and Dust, has been released on DualDisc, in a CD/DVD double disc set, and as a set of two vinyl records.

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For the DualDisc and CD/DVD sets, the full album is on the CD(-side), while the DVD(-side) side features a PCM Stereo version of the album and a short film about the making and recording of the album. Two bonus songs also appear on the DVD(-side).

On October 3, 2006, the album was reissued as We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions – American Land Edition with five additional tracks (the two bonus tracks from before and three new numbers that had been introduced and heavily featured on the tour), new videos, an expanded documentary and liner notes. Rather than a DualDisc release, the American Land Edition was released with separate CD and DVDs. Added sales were minimal.

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We Shall Overcome received widespread acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 82, based on 25 reviews.[14] In his review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised Springsteen’s modern take on Seeger’s repertoire of folk songs and said that it is the liveliest album of his career: “It’s a rambunctious, freewheeling, positively joyous record unlike any other in Springsteen’s admittedly rich catalog.” David Browne of Entertainment Weekly felt that Springsteen successfully imbues the songs with a “rock & roll energy” rather than an adherence to folk’s blander musical aesthetic. Rolling Stone magazine’s Jonathan Ringen believed that he relied on folk and Americana styles on the album in order to “find a moral compass for a nation that’s gone off the rails”, particularly on the implicitly political “Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep”, “Eyes on the Prize”, and “We Shall Overcome”. Gavin Martin of Uncut called it “a great teeming flood of Americana” and “a powerful example of how songs reverberate through the years to accrue contemporary meaning”.

TourposterIn a less enthusiastic review, Neil Spencer of The Observer wrote that the songs chosen for the album lack intrigue and edge, and are “mostly too corny to have much drama restored to them”. Robert Christgau panned We Shall Overcome in his consumer guide for The Village Voice, wherein he gave it a “B”, which is assigned to bad albums he reviews as the “dud of the month” in his column. He felt that Springsteen relies too much on a rural drawl and overblown sound when folk music requires subtlety and viewed the album as the worst case of his histrionic singing.

Seeger himself was pleased by the result, saying “It was a great honor. [Springsteen]’s an extraordinary person, as well as an extraordinary singer.” We Shall Overcome was voted the 19th best album of the year in the Pazz & Jop, an annual critics poll run by The Village Voice. In 2007, it won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 49th Grammy Awards. By January 2009, the album had sold 700,000 copies in the United States. the RIAA certified it with gold record status. (by wikipedia)

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We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is an unusual Bruce Springsteen album in a number of ways. First, it’s the first covers album Springsteen has recorded in his three-decade career, which is a noteworthy event in itself, but that’s not the only thing different about We Shall Overcome. Springsteen, a notorious perfectionist who has been known to tweak and rework albums numerous times before releasing them (or scrapping them, as the case may be), pulled together the album quickly, putting aside a planned second volume of the rarities collection Tracks after discovering a set of recordings he made in 1997 for a Pete Seeger tribute album called Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger. Enthralled by this handful of tracks — one of which, “We Shall Overcome,” appeared on the tribute — Springsteen decided to cut a whole album of folk tunes popularized by Pete Seeger. He rounded up 13 musicians, including some who played on those 1997 sessions, and did two one-day sessions in late 2005 and early 2006, swiftly releasing the resulting album that April. As Bruce stresses in his introductory liner notes, these were live recordings, done with no rehearsals, and We Shall Overcome does indeed have an unmistakably loose feel, and not just because you can hear the Boss call out chord changes in a handful of songs. This music is rowdy and rambling, as the group barrels head-first into songs that they’re playing together as a band for the first time, and it’s hard not to get swept up along in their excitement. Springsteen has made plenty of great records, but We Shall Overcome is unique in its sheer kinetic energy; he has never made a record that feels as alive as this.

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Not only does We Shall Overcome feel different than Bruce’s work; it also feels different than Seeger’s music. Most of Seeger’s recordings were spare and simple, featuring just him and his banjo; his most elaborately produced records were with the Weavers, whose recordings of the ’50s did feature orchestration, yet that’s a far cry from the big folk band that Springsteen uses here. Bruce’s combo for the Seeger sessions has a careening, ramshackle feel that’s equal parts early-’60s hootenanny and Bob Dylan and the Band’s Americana; at times, its ragged human qualities also recall latter-day Tom Waits, although the music here is nowhere near as self-consciously arty as that. Springsteen has truly used Seeger’s music as inspiration, using it as the starting point to take him someplace that is uniquely his own in sheer musical terms.

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Given that, it should be no great surprise that Bruce also picks through Seeger’s songbook in a similar fashion, leaving many (if not most) of Pete’s well-known songs behind in favor of a selection of folk standards Springsteen learned through Seeger’s recordings. (Author/critic Dave Marsh researched the origins of each song here; there are brief introductions within the album’s liner notes and thorough histories presented on the official Springsteen site.) While the songs featured here adhere to no one specific theme — there are work songs, spirituals, narratives, and protest songs — it is possible to see this collection of tunes as Springsteen’s subtle commentary on the political state of America, especially given Seeger’s reputation as an outspoken political activist, but this record should hardly be judged as merely an old-fashioned folk record. We Shall Overcome is many things, but a creaky relic is not one of them. Springsteen has drawn from Seeger’s songbook — which he assembled in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s from traditional folk songs — and turned it into something fresh and contemporary. And even if you have no patience for (or interest in) the history of the songs, or their possible meanings, it’s easy to enjoy We Shall Overcome on pure musical terms: it’s a rambunctious, freewheeling, positively joyous record unlike any other in Springsteen’s admittedly rich catalog. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Sam Bardfeld (violin)
Art Baron (tuba)
Frank Bruno (guitar)
Jeremy Chatzky (bass)
Mark Clifford (banjo)
Larry Eagle (drums, percussion)
Charles Giordano (keyboards, accordion)
Ed Manion (saxophone)
Mark Pender (trumpet, background vocals)
Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg (trombone, background vocals)
Patti Scialfa (background vocals)
Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, harmonica, organ, percussion)
Soozie Tyrell (violin, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Old Dan Tucker (Traditional) 2.31
02. Jesse James (Gashade) 3.48
03. Mrs. McGrath (Traditional) 4.20
04. O Mary Don’t You Weep (Traditional) 6.05
05. John Henry (Traditional) 5.07
06. Erie Canal (Allen) 4.03
07. Jacob’s Ladder (Traditional) 4.28
08. My Oklahoma Home (B.Cunningham/A.Cunningham) 6.04
09. Eyes On The Prize (Traditional/Wine) 5.17
10. Shenandoah (Traditional) 4.53
11. Pay Me My Money Down (Traditional) 4.32
12. We Shall Overcome (Tindley/Carawan/Hamilton/Horton/Seeger) 4.53
13. Froggie Went A-Courtin’ (Traditional) 4.33
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14. Buffalo Gals (bonus track) (Traditional) 3.12
15. How Can I Keep From Singing (bonus track) (Traditional) 2.20
16. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live (bonus track) (Traditional) 3.23
17. Bring ‘Em Home (bonus track) (Traditional) 3.36
18. American Land (bonus track) (Traditional) 4.44

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Levitt & McClure – Living In The Country (1969)

FrontCover1.jpgDan Levitt (a later guitarist of The Beau Brummels) and Marc McClure (of Joyous Noise) worked hand in glove and released this distinguished folk & country rock album in 1969.
Produced by Ron Elliott who also contributed a couple of songs to the album.

Dan Levitt and Marc McClure were a bluegrassy duo from Encino, California who got on the radar of producer Ron Elliott, who was in the thick of the LA music scene. This album, which was recorded in August, 1969, is mostly original material, including a few songs written or co-written by producer Ron Elliott, as well as some covers of folkie stuff from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Marc McClure also recorded a solo album for Capitol a few years later.

And here the original liner-notes:

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Guitarist Mark McClure and bassist Dan Levitt (who also sang some vocal harmonies) had done an obscure album of their own for Warner Brothers in 1969 as Levitt & McClure, Living in the Country, on which Elliott produced and wrote a few songs. (by Ritchie Unterberger)

One of the best albums I have experienced in my 68 years. First heard it in 1969 on “Jelly Pudding” (WEBN-FM) in Cincinnati when I was a college student at Miami U. Bought the LP right away. What a masterpiece this is. Wonderful listening to this day. An unknown classic. (by Bob Keesecker)

This album sounds like songs from a forgotten and lost paradise …

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Personnel:
Dan Levitt (guitar, banjo, vocals)
Marc McClure (guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. With You (Levitt*/McClure) 1.59
02. Wilderness Of You (Levitt) 3.10
03. Spiteful Love (McClure) 3.30
04. Paradise (Engle/Elliott) 4.40
05. Reflections (Levitt) 2.46
06. Tomorrow Is A Long Time (Dylan) 3.22
07. Living In The Country (Seeger) 2.41
08. Ginny Black (Levitt/McClure) 3.22
09. Cripple Creek (Levitt/McClure) 3.36
10. Empty Boxes (Elliott) 2.43
11. Farewell To Sally Brown (Downey/Elliott) 6.53

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Tracy Chapman – Matters Of The Heart (1992)

FrontCover1.jpgMatters of the Heart is the third album by American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, released in 1992. It was her first not to be produced or co-produced by David Kershenbaum. (by wikipedia)

Any serious-minded artist who calls an album Matters of the Heart would normally be asking for trouble — titles like that are generally reserved for Valerie Bertinelli TV movies. For Tracy Chapman, though, a little bit of maudlin goes a long way. Chapman’s astonishing 1988 debut, Tracy Chapman, is still a pinnacle of singer-songwriter craft — assured and determined, its songs rooted in the folk narrative tradition yet adding a modern edge. (”Behind the Wall” not only predated the topic of Public Enemy’s antiauthoritarian ”911 Is a Joke,” but did it with a field-holler melody.) Yet on its follow-up, Crossroads (1989), Chapman mostly whined about being reduced to ”a white man’s drone” in the ”material world.” Even Sean Penn handled success better than that.

Chapman’s internal debate about whether or not she has ”sold out” continues a little on Matters of the Heart. (”I Used to Be a Sailor” — about a seaman stranded on an island without any means of escape — is clearly a price-of- success metaphor.) Yet the album breathes easier, both in its lyrics and its music. Chapman seems more reconciled to balancing her public life with her private one, and she sounds a lot more human as a result. ”Here I sit, I’m feeling sorry for myself,” she sings at one point, adding with the slightest hint of self-deprecating humor, ”It’s quite a sight.”

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The songs are stronger than those on Crossroads, whether Chapman is offering consolation to a friend or lover in ”Open Arms” or pondering guns in the ghetto in ”Bang Bang Bang.” With coproducer Jimmy Iovine, she also continues to master the art of folk-pop that’s fully produced, yet still sparse and airy. There are plenty of instruments on each track, but you’d never know it. Everything is centered on her voice (which sounds much warmer than it did on Crossroads), a strummed guitar or two, and light percussion. The music glides along, with a few inventive extra touches like the swooping electric guitar of Living Colour’s Vernon Reid gently insinuating itself into ”Bang Bang Bang.”

The album’s centerpiece is its remarkable seven-minute title song, which finds Chapman bluntly picking over an obsessive love affair that has left her both confused and enlightened. The taut musical accents — congas nipping at each verse — add masterfully to the tension of Chapman spitting out lyrics like ”I’ve made myself sick/I can’t think of anything else/I can’t sleep at night.” The performance makes the onslaught of bland male and female singer-songwriters who have followed in her wake sound truly wimpy.

With her humorless delivery, Chapman can still make Leonard Cohen sound like the life of the party. And she remains the epitome of political correctness: Singing about women’s rights, corporate fat cats, and the lack of ”clean air to breathe/Pure water to drink of,” she could forge a second career as a Democratic presidential contender. Those sentiments may be liberal clichés, but that doesn’t make them any less noble. In the end, Chapman still wants to be someone, be someone — only a slightly better someone in an improved world. On Matters of the Heart, she’s back on track toward that goal. (by David Browne)

This one of the finest albums I´ve ever heard … A real tresure … a real hightlight in the history of recorded music !

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Personnel:
Roy Bittan (keyboards, accordion on 05.)
Mike Campbell (guitar, bouzouki on 02., mandolin on 03. + 05.)
Tracy Chapman (acoustic guitar, vocals)
Mino Cinelu (percussion)
Manu Katché (drums)
Tony Levin (bass)
Steve Thornton (percussion)
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Alejandro “Alex” Acuña (percussion on 08. + 09.)
Michael Fisher (percussion on 05., 06. + 09.)
Bob Glaub (bass on 04.)
Omar Hakim (drums on 06.)
Nellee Hooper (percussion on 09.)
Randy “The Emperor” Jackson (bass on 01., 08. + 09.)
Charles Judge (keyboards on 09.)
Larry Klein (bass on 06.)
Vernon Reid (guitar on 01., 07. + 08.)
Waddy Wachtel (guitar on 01. + 06.)
Larry Williams (keyboards on 09.)
Bobby Womack (guitar on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01.Bang Bang Bang 4.21
02. So 3.26
03. I Used To Be A Sailor 3.56
04. The Love That You Had 4.11
05. Woman’s Work 2.01
06. If These Are The Things 4.40
07. Short Supply (Jigten; For Richmond) 4.23
08. Dreaming On A World 5.03
09. Open Arms 4.34
10. Matters Of The Heart 6.59

All songs written by Tracy Chapman

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Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl – Freeborn Man (1983)

AmigaFrontCover1Some not-so-old favourites by Ewan MacColl with the exception of “The Ballad of Springhill, ” which is chiefly the work of Peggy Seeger

For most of the nearly thirty years that Peggy and I have been singing together we have kept detailed programme lists. They fill twelve large notebooks and are an invaluable aid in planning the repertoire for a tour. Because of them we are able to visit a concert-hall or dub again and again, each time with a programme of new songs — or rather, with songs that are probably new to that particular audience.

It is these unfamiliar songs which lend the elements of surprise and freshness to a performance. But there is another equally important element which the new songs cannot provide: familiarity. Almost everyone who goes to a concert enjoys the stimulus that comes from listening to a new song but at the same time almost everyone finds comfort in listening to the old favourites.

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The singer, then, must not only sing but compose programmes in which the familiar and the unfamiliar are held in balance. The people who have come to listen collaborate with the singer by requesting this or that song … and that brings us to the reason for issuing this album.

The titles listed above represent some of the most frequently requested songs in our joint repertoire. All of them have appeared on disc at some time or another but, for the most pan, are no longer available. A number of Peggy’s most popular songs are still available and consequently are not included here. The result is an album weighted rather heavily in my favour and consisting mostly of songs made up in the course of creating those BBC documentaries called “radio ballads, ” These songs were based on taped interviews with herring-fishermen, railwaymen, coal-miners, road-builders, boxers, and others and, several of them have already entered the traditional repertoire. (Ewan MacColl)

Biographical Note
Ewan MacColl is a Scot who considers himself primarily a playwright. He was one of the co-founders of Theatre Workshop and was their resident dramatist for eight years. He has worked in radio, television and film. Peggy Seeger, an American, joined him in 1956 and together they are considered one of the lop folksinging teams in the English-speaking world. Their records — nearly 160 LP’s — include connoisseur ballad-collections, women’s albums, children’s discs and specialised collections of songs Their sons Calum (20) and Neill (24), who play with them on this disc, occasionally accompany them onstage. (taken from the original liner – notes)

What a great family album … everybody who loves traditional folk songs … should listen to this album.

My album is a rare Amiga Records pressing … Amiga was the recorcd company of the German Democratic Republic, released in 1989 !

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Personnel:
Dill Katz (bass)
Calum MacColl (zither, guitar, whistle, appalachian dulcimer, background vocals))
Ewan MacColl (vocals)
Neill MacColl (guitar, mandolin, background vocals)
Peggy Seeger (guitar, banjo, autoharp, concertina, vocals)
Chris Taylor (harmonica)
Ian Telfer (fiddle)
Bruce Turner (clarinet)
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background vocals:
Calum MacColl – Hamish Mac’Coll – Kirsty

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Tracklist:
01. North Sea Holes 2.38
02. The Shoals Of Herring 3.53
03. The Lag’s Song 2.49
04. Come, Me Little Son 3.50
05. Moving-On Song 3.18
06. Sweet Thames, Flow Softly 4.57
07. I’m a Rambler (The Manchester Rambler) 4.34
08. Freeborn Man
09. The Driver’s Song
10. The Ballad of Springhill
11. Thirty-Foot Trailer
12. Down the Lane
13. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
14. The Big Hewer
15. The Battle is Done With
16. Dirty Old Town

All songs are Traditionals

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Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger

No To Co – So What (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgPopular Polish folk-rock band of late 60s-early 70s, No To Co was a brainchild of Piotr Janczerski (born Piotr Janik). Janczerski started musical career in 1962 as a compere for Niebiesko Czarni (->), Polish pioneering beat group. By 1964 became one of their lead singers. In 1967 founded a skiffle band with Jerzy Grunwald. Being a Niebiesko Czarni’s side project at the beginning, newly formed aggregation made it’s first own TV appearance on December 1st 1967, playing a blend of beat, skiffle and Polish folklore music. Band’s name No To Co (‘So What’) was chosen from more that 5000 ones suggested by TV viewers. Jerzy Krzeminski, Jan Stefanek, Jerzy Rybinski, Aleksander Kawecki and Bogdan Borkowski completed line-up.

Winning musical formula of Polish folklore music being arranged in beat and skiffle tradition plus suitable image made No To Co an overnight nationwide success. Within 1968 alone band played more that 200 dates, appeared in 3 movies, recorded one LP and several chart-topping singles, made 19 radio sessions! Won grand prix at national song festival in Opole. 170000 copies of their debut album were sold within 4 month of release. Enjoyed big success at festival in Montreaux, Switzerland the same year.

In 1969 toured France, Hungary, USSR, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and USA. Been pronounced ‘the most popular Polish band in the USA’ in Chicago in June same year – a rather curious fact, immortalized with the golden medal. Much more vital was the prize from Polish Ministry of Culture, July 1969.

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1970 brought more successful tours of France, Canada, USA, Britain and socialist countries. Won grand prix at the national song festival in Opole with ‘Po ten kwiat czerwony’ (‘The Red Flower’) and ‘Te opolskie dziouchy’ (‘Those Opole Girls’). However, the original line-up broke-up later that year with departure of Grunwald.

Band’s career in homeland almost folded with departure of Janczerski in 1971. Others carried on for some time with Krzeminski as the new leader. Released one album for East German ‘Amiga’ label (1972) and two LPs for ‘Melodija’ in USSR (1973) before finally calling it a day. (green-brain-krautrock.de)

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And this is their third abum, the first with english vocals (even the liner notes was in english) and it´s real crazy album … a crazy mix between tradional polish songs and some internation tunes like “See See Rider” Or “Gimme Some Lovin´” … and this old Spencer Davis Group song is a highlight of this album … we hear a real great prog-rock version including an impressive bass-solo !!!

Another prog-rock song is “Saturday To Sunday ” … sounds like a little psychedelic trip !

This is a treasure from the early days of beat and rock behind the iron curtain !

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Personnel:
Bogdan Borkowski (banjo(guitar/harmonica, vocals)
Jerzy Grunwald (guitar, vocals)
Piotr Janczerski (vocals)
Aleksander Kawecki (drums)
Jerzy Krzemiński (guitar, vocals)
Jerzy Rybiński (bass, vocals)
Jan Stefanek (saxophone, keyboards, violin)

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Tracklist:
01. Dark – Blue Water (Traditional/Wiecko) 2.46
02. Market – Place Rooster (Krzemiński/Janczerski/Zielinski) 2.30
03. So Far Away From You (Krzemiński/Kondratowicz/Bromski) 3.12
04. If You Want Me (Traditional/Wiecko) 1.31
05. See , See Rider (Traditional/Rainey) 3.58
06. Highland Melodies (Traditional/Bromski) 3.17
07. Brass Bands (Kawecki/Wiecko) 2.29
08. Farmer’s Song (Traditional/Wiecko) 1.48
09. Saturday To Sunday (Krzemiński/Kondratowicz/Zielinski) 3.16
10. Marinka (Laudan) 1.54
11. Give Me Some Of Loving (Winwood) 7.00
12. Oh, Baby Jane (Krzemiński/Wiecko) 2.25

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No To Co – still alive and well in 2018 !!!

The Weavers – On Tour (1957)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children’s songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and sold millions of records at the height of their popularity. Their style inspired the commercial “folk boom” that followed them in the 1950s and 1960s, including such performers as The Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul, and Mary; The Rooftop Singers; The Seekers; and Bob Dylan. (by wikipedia)

In April 1957, Vanguard released an album of the Weavers’ December 1955 concert at Carnegie Hall. Since the whole program exceeded the time limit of one vinyl long play record, the company made some choices and picked a total of twenty songs. Good sales suggested that a follow up would be appreciated by their fans, but the problem now was The Weavers01that they didn’t have enough unissued material. The answer was to have the group go into the studio and record some more of their songs which were then mixed with applause and added to the other unissued tracks. The result is another album that has the feel of the first one and offers more of the concert experience. The odd thing about marketing this release is that Vanguard choose to ignore the Carnegie Hall aspect of these recordings on the front cover. The group is pictured outdoors under a tree and it is only as you begin to read the jacket notes that you learn that this is the sequel to “The Weavers At Carnegie Hall”.

The songs are grouped by style (Songs That Never Fade, Tall Tales, History and Geography, Of Peace and Good Will), but I have no idea if that comes close to the way they were originally presented in 1955. Together, the two albums make a great “record” of the Weavers in top form.

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The only negative about the CD is the booklet notes are much shorter and do not include a story about each song even though the fine print on the back states “Original liner notes included”. It is fun to have the vinyl album just for the back cover written material. The 1957 album (VRS 9013) was later reissued in 1985 as part of Vanguard’s 73000 mid-line series, but without cutting any songs. This is the release that is now available on CD. It is interesting to note that the cover picture for the CD is a different pose from the same photo session that produced the cover for the L.P. (by Warren S.)

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Personnel:
Lee Hays (vocals)
Ronnie Gilbert (vocals)
Fred Hellerman (guitar, vocals)
Pete Seeger (banjo, vocals)

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Tracklist:

Songs That Never Fade:
01. Tzena, Tzena, Tzena (Myron/Grossman/Parish) 1.12
02. On Top Of Old Smoky (Seger) 2.24
03. Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill (Seeger/Gilbert/Hays/Hellerman) 2.16
04. Fi-li-mi-oo-ree-ay (Seeger/Gilbert/Hays/Hellerman) 2.28
05. Over The Hills (Seger) 1.00
06. Clementine (Traditional) 2.54

Tall Tales:
07. The Frozen Logger (Stevens) 2.10
08. The Boll Weevil (Hays) 2.31
09. Talking Blues (Seeger/Hellerman) 2.24
10. I Don’t Want To Get Adjusted (Hays/Hellerman) 1.29
11. So Long (Guthrie) 2.26

History And Geography:
12. Michael, Row The Boat Ashore (Seeger/Gilbert/Hays/Hellerman) 3.38
13.The Wreck Of The “John B” (Hays) 2.23
14. Two Brothers (The Blue And The Grey) (Gordon) 2.27
15. Ragaputi (Seeger) 2.13
16. Wasn’t That A Time (Hays) 2.09

Of Peace And Good Will:
17. Go Tell It To The Mountain (Traditional) 2.32
18. Poor Little Jesus (Seeger/Gilbert/Hays/Hellerman) 1.41
19. Mi Y’Malel (Seeger/Gilbert/Hays/Hellerman) 1.53
20. Santa Claus Is Coming (It’s Almost Day) (Ledbetter) 1.19
21. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Traditional)

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Orriel Smith – A Voice In The Wind (1964)

FrontCover1.jpgOrriel Smith has led one of the more extraordinary careers of any vocalist since her emergence at the end of the 1950s. By training and inclination, she was an operatic singer, surrounded by the music from her earliest memories and imitating the coloratura arias that she heard — among the earliest pieces that she mastered, while still a child, was The Bell Song from Lakmé. Her studies, plus the travels of her mother (an established singer), carried her to Italy and the Milan Conservatory, where she took up studying piano and violin, and the La Scala Ballet Company School. Her mother’s work at Paramount Pictures later took her to Hollywood, where Smith began an acting career on television. It was after hearing Jean Ritchie perform at the Arrowbear Music Camp that she became enamored of Appalachian folk songs, and took up the guitar so that she could accompany herself in this newly discovered repertory. As a model for her own work, she turned to Joan Baez, who was then a new and emerging star on the folk scene — by her own account, she learned to play the guitar by slowing Baez’s records to 16 rpm and painstakingly capturing every note on her own guitar, tuned down for the purpose.

OrrielSmith1962ASmith later moved to New York to study singing and began spending time at the folk clubs that abounded in the early ’60s, and was soon singing in them. Her extraordinary range attracted the attention of a manager who, after a meeting in his office, got her booked onto The Tonight Show. This, in turn, led to her being signed to Columbia Records, where she recorded the album A Voice in the Wind in 1963 with producer Bobby Scott. By 1964, she’d appeared on Hootenanny and other television folk venues and was getting major club bookings, albeit mostly as an opening act, around the country. Smith later joined the Jimmy Joyce Singers, who were a fixture on various CBS network variety programs. Since then, Smith has performed solo and worked in film and television, and she also wrote “Lifetime Woman,” a song recorded by David Frizzell. She has also been a member of the Ray Conniff Singers and worked with Dolly Parton. She is still recording at the outset of the 21st century, most notably her highly “stylized” operatic showcase for children, Cluckoratura. (by Bruce Eder)

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Orriel Smith was one of numerous young women folksingers with high, pure voices who had the opportunity to record in the early ’60s in the wake of Joan Baez’s rise to stardom. Although it was issued on a major label, Columbia, A Voice in the Wind nonetheless remains quite obscure. Both the repertoire of traditional folk ballads and delivery may well recall early Baez to many listeners, as well as some other singers of the period like Carolyn Hester, though Smith may have a yet higher voice and slightly more operatic manner. Even for a folk album of the period, the production is sparse and dominated by her own acoustic guitar, Walter Raim helping with the accompaniment (as he did for another, more memorable folk LP recorded around the same time, Judy Collins 3). “When I Was Single,” “Geordie,” “Black Is the Color,” and Ewan MacColl’s classic “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” are among the more familiar songs included on this recording, produced by “A Taste of Honey” co-writer Bobby Scott. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Orriel Smith in her own words:
My first album was 1963. The Producer assigned to my project was Bobby Scott, who wrote “A Taste of Honey”. There I was with my classical voice and folksy guitar facing a great jazz composer. Gulp. What on earth would he decide for me to sing? Turns out he was quite a lover of Irish and English music and was delighted to recall some of his favorites through me. Those were the days! When you could walk in to Columbia Records A&R man’s office and have a live in-person audition.My first album was 1963. The Producer assigned to my project was Bobby Scott, who wrote “A Taste of Honey”. There I was with my classical voice and folksy guitar facing a great jazz composer. Gulp. What on earth would he decide for me to sing? Turns out he was quite a lover of Irish and English music and was delighted to recall some of his favorites through me. Those were the days! When you could walk in to Columbia Records A&R man’s office and have a live in-person audition.

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Personnel:
Orriel Smith (vocals, guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. The Deceived Girl (Raim) 4,21
02. Down By The Glenside (Kearnay/Ryan) 2.52
03. When I Was Single (Traditional) 1.46
04. Over The Hills (Raim) 2.34
05. Been On This Train (Raim) 2.32
06. White Curtains (Resnick) 2.29
07. Black Is The Color (Traditional) 2.50
08. Chilly Winds (Traditional) 2.37
09. Take My Mother Home (Johnson) 4.02
10. Geordie (Owen) 2.59
11. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (MacColl) 3.53
12. Red Rosy Bush (‘Traditional) 2.31

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