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NEWSLETTER #133
American Folk Music
The Even Dozen Jug Band ->
The Weavers
 

 

 
THE ROOFTOP SINGERS Vanguard 79749 Best Of The Vanguard Years ● CD $17.98
27 tracks, 65 minutes, recommended Despite a memorable, chart-topping single and critical acclaim rarely accorded to '60s pop-folk acts, the Rooftop Singers never approached the success of its lesser-talented, better-known contemporaries. Originally organized for a one-shot Vanguard album, former Weaver Erik Darling built the group around folk-blues aficionado Bill Svanoe and jazz chanteuse Lynne Taylor. Duke Ellington bassist Wendell Marshall and Prestige Records' house drummer Bobby Donaldson reinforced the Rooftops' jazz undercurrent. Their retooling of Gus Cannon's Walk Right In became an unexpected hit in November 1962, launching the group professionally and spawning a brief twelve-string guitar mania. Blending elements of Lead Belly, the Golden Gate Quartet, Blind Willie Johnson, Peggy Lee and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, the Rooftops' style and repertoire were almost certainly too cerebral to appeal to that era's "hootenanny" audiences. Ironically, the elements that doomed the group's commercial potential forty years ago now contribute to its timelessness. This anthology culls most of the tracks from the trio's first two (and best) albums in pristine stereo, along with five previously unissued songs and a rocking twelve-string guitar instrumental that only appeared on a single. Highlights include R.C. Frog (a Ray Charles-influenced take on Froggie Went A-Courtin'), Tom Cat/ You Don't Know/ It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), a newly discovered Taylor solo of Wild Mountain Thyme and a jazzy Working on the Railroad. Dave Samuelson provides a brief overview of the Rooftop Singers' meteoric career. (AK)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Shout Factory DK 30216 Folk Hits of the 60s ● CD $18.98
OK, people, you want 'em, here they are - Woody Guthrie, Gale Garnett, Glen Yarbrough, The Sandpipers, The Kingston Trio, The Wonder Who?, We Five You, Joan Baez, Trini Lopez, The Village Stompers and ten others. (no Peter Paul & Mary).
JOAN BAEZ: There but for Fortune/ HARRY BELAFONTE: Banana Boat Song/ THE BROTHERS FOUR: Greenfields/ JUDY COLLINS: Both Sides Now/ BOBBY DARIN: If I Were a Carpenter/ GALE GARNETT: We'll Sing in the Sunshine/ WOODY GUTHRIE: This Land Is Your Land/ THE KINGSTON TRIO: Tom Dooley/ TRINI LOPEZ: If I Had a Hammer/ Lemon Tree/ THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS: Green, Green/ THE ROOFTOP SINGERS: Walk Right In/ THE SANDPIPERS: Guantanamera/ THE SERENDIPITY SINGERS: Don't Let the Rain Come Down/ THE TOKENS: The Lion Sleeps Tonight/ THE VILLAGE STOMPERS: Washington Square/ WE FIVE: You Were on My Mind/ THE WEAVERS: Goodnite Irene/ THE WONDER WHO?: Don't Think Twice/ GLEN YARBROUGH: Baby the Rain Must Fall

 
THE WEAVERS Vanguard 79707 Rarities From The Vanguard Vault ● CD $17.98
20 tracks, 49 minutes, recommended After reissuing the same Weavers material time and time again, Vanguard Records finally compiled an album that fans of this beloved folk quartet will embrace. Rarities from the Vanguard Vault features eight songs previously unavailable on compact disc, two studio tracks making their stereo debuts, and ten previously unissued masters. Half the cuts spotlight the original quartet of Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman and Pete Seeger; the others feature Seeger's replacement, Erik Darling. Seeger's tracks mostly come from a marathon August 1957 session that Vanguard parceled across three albums across a ten-year period. There's More Pretty Girls Than One/ Goin' Down That Road Feelin' Bad/ Deep Blue Sea and Hey Lilee Lilee Lo make their first appearance here; Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho only appeared on a 1967 budget LP. A September 1957 mono session slated for a never-issued single yielded a definitive Kisses Sweeter Than Wine and Lee Hays' lively The Crawdad Song. Erik Darling's April 1958 arrival revitalized the quartet. His sessions include Why-O/ Dry Weather Houses and Rookoombine, three previously unheard Caribbean songs originally intended for "Travelling On with the Weavers." Dave Samuelson's notes shed light on this little-documented transitional period in the Weavers' career. (AK)

 

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