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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The Weavers – We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1952)

FrontCover1from folk to pop to gospel. The quartet sounds as though they’re having the time of their lives in this relaxed setting, perhaps knowing that the release of this beguiling collection of holiday music could only have confused and confounded the Red-baiters working against them. The singing is exuberant yet mostly elegant (especially Ronnie Gilbert’s vocalizing throughout), except on the folksy “It’s Almost Day” (which couldn’t and shouldn’t be performed elegantly), and the material is performed with warmth and dignity. The accompaniment is nicely restrained, with no more than a few horn flourishes on “One for the Little Bitty Baby.” Apparently, the group had wanted to include a couple of songs in Hebrew, but the record label rejected the idea, fearful in that less-ecumenical age that the presence of Jewish songs would offend some listeners. (by Bruce Eder)

TheWeaversPersonnel:
Ronnie Gilbert (vocals)
Lee Hays (guitar, vocals)
Fred Hellerman (guitar, bass, vocals)
Pete Seeger (mandolin, guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Traditional) 2.36
02. One for The Little Bitty Baby (Brand/Campbell) 3.29
03. The Seven Blessings Of Mary (Traditional) 2.54
04. Twelve Days Of Christmas (Traditional) 2.23
05. Go Tell It On The Mountain (Traditional) 2.32
06. Poor Little Jesus (Campbell/Gilbert/Hays/Hellerman/Seeger) 2.10
07. Burgundian Carol (Brand/Campbell) 2.11
08. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 1.21
09. Lulloo Lullay (Campbell) 2.07
10. It’s Almost Day (Ledbetter) 1.29

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