Disc 1 (Pete Seeger) contains several of Seeger's "talking blues" songs, often dealing with World War 2, e.g. "Round and Round Hitler's Grave" from his brief time with the Almanac Singers. The recording quality is not great, probably reflecting the vintage of the recordings. Some of the Almanac Singers material here is found also on Disc 4, but some of the Almanac songs found here are not on Disc 4. 20 songs in 50 minutes.
Disc 2 (Peter Paul and Mary) is actually their odds-and-ends album "No Easy Walk to Freedom," released in 1988, in the original song order. It contains none of their big hits, but apart from a couple of dated keyboards, it sounds great, and the song selection and performances are crisp and memorable. (The 1986 "25th Anniversary Concert" DVD contains live versions of most of these songs, plus their actual hits.) However, compared to the other discs, this disc is a skimpy offering, with only ten songs, totaling barely over thirty minutes in length. Also, track four, "State of the Heart" has been replaced accidentally by a second copy of "Weave Me the Sunshine." It's a great song, but not that great. Watch the CD mastering, guys!
Disc 3 (Burl Ives) is a nice collection, mostly accompanied simply by acoustic guitar, well recorded, with his high voice in fine form. Sounds like 1950s recordings for the most part, but some may be ten years older than that. If it's a specific album by Ives, I can't figure out which one. British folk song "Tam Pierce" has been mislabeled as "Tarn Pierce." Kerning error followed by reading error, one assumes. His 1949 hit "Lavender Blue" is here, but not his early 1960s hits "A Little Bitty Tear" and "Funny Way of Laughing." 21 brisk songs in 50 minutes.
Disc 4 (The Almanac Singers) is easy to date, since the group, which included Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, lasted only from 1941 to 1942. Twenty of their three dozen recordings are here, including four recordings (Union Maid; C for Conscription; Talking Union; Round and Round Hitler's Grave) also found on Disc 1. Mandatory folk listening, though the sort of person who wants this at all probably wants their whole collection instead, available elsewhere.
Disc 5 (Harry Belafonte) does contain a guitar-only version of his 1954 hit "Jamaica Farewell" but not the hit version (which is not hugely different), and not his biggest hit "Banana Boat Song," the novelty track "Mama Look at Bubu," or the Christmas song "Mary's Boy Child." His 1954 album "Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites" is all here, but not in the album order. The other tracks were non-album singles from the 1950s. 18 songs, 50 minutes. Lovely example of a hybrid of crooner/folk style.
Disc 6 (Paul Robeson) does include his signature song, "Ol' Man River" from the Kern/Hammerstein musical "Show Boat." The rest of the tracks, showcasing his incredibly rich bass voice backed by mellow orchestral instrumentation at times and solo piano or guitar at times, sound 1940s vintage, including Gershwin's "Summertime," Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home," and Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair" and "Lazy Bones." Great stuff; I could listen to this guy all day. Much of it is not exactly folk, though. 23 songs in 60 minutes.
Disc 7 (Woody Guthrie) contains most of his 1940 debut album "Dust Bowl Ballads," out of order. "Do Re Mi," later covered by Nanci Griffith, is here. "This Land is Your Land" is here, but this rendition repeats two verses while omitting the original, politically charged fourth and sixth verses about private property and poverty. Most of the other songs are from his 1944-5 Asche recordings. Indispensible early folk. There are more comprehensive Guthrie collections, but not for this price. 20 songs, 57 minutes.
Disc 8 (The Weavers) Early 1950s recordings of Pete Seeger's post-WW2 band gets good representation here. I had heard of them but never heard them, and I was entirely unprepared for how peppy, polished, lush, and downright un-folky most of their repertoire was. Did Seeger's fan base cry "sell-out"? Their big band version of crowd-pleaser Wimoweh (a top ten hit) is here. So is the sprightly hit "Tzena Tzena Tzena," sea shanty "Wreck of the John B," and romantic "Goodnight Irene." 20 songs, 53 minutes
Disc 9 (Glen Campbell) is the real puzzler. The first ten tracks (including his big hits like Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman) come from his 1981 country album "Glen Campbell Live," in an altered order. The other ten songs are the 1966 instrumental album "The 12 String Guitar of Glen Campbell," on which, despite the album title, the main instrument is generally Leon Russell's harpsichord. The album contains curiosities like a James Bond-sounding version of "If I Had a Hammer." Interesting stuff, but definitely not "folk music" by any normal definition. At least they filled the CD; 20 songs, 55 minutes.
Disc 10 (The Kingston Trio) has muddy sounding live recordings, probably from the early 1960s, but at least they have more verve than their studio counterparts often did. The songs are a smattering of classics by the likes of Donovan, Bob Dylan, and Gordon Lightfoot, plus songs associated with the band such as Tijuana Jail, Charlie on the MTA, and Tom Dooley. 14 songs, 38 minutes.
So, a weird collection with some must-have vintage folk, some head-scratching non-folk choices, some song and printing goofs, and a missed opportunity to really showcase Peter, Paul, and Mary. When I got this, it cost me $20 new. Having heard it, I can say it's certainly worth at least that much, warts and all.