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3.9 out of 5 stars
American Folk Anthology
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2009
This is a fine collection of classic performances of stone American folksongs. I heard some of these recordings growing up in the 1960s, though more from my mother's singing to me as a child. As she was not especially musical, nor a record-buyer or folkie, this seems pretty good evidence many had entered into the broader folksong pantheon by then.
I don't understand the comment that it isn't real folk music - it seems pretty archetypally American folk to me: if "Aunt Rhody", "Ezekiel", "John Hardy", Bluetail Fly", "Froggy" etc aren't folk music, what is? - but maybe the reviewer is new to American folk. It's true that some have British Isles roots, but that hardly disqualifies them either as folk or as American songs - all folksongs come from somewhere, and are transformed by performance in time, place and social context. Similarly, for the idea that royalty payments influenced the choice - if the Q is, why these 10 performers instead of others? Yes, they were all popular and commercial at times - though also just scraped by at times, or were literally hounded out of the music business and blacklisted at others - I assume the idea is to give a picture of the folk music that was created and recreated for a broad audience in a modern idiom, within the limits of licensing constraints. Even the Leadbelly recordings are commercial ones - this isn't John and Alan Lomax's amateurs in field, hollow or prison. In fact, these musicians all knew each other and often performed together, so uniting them in a collection has the virtue of coherence.
Not everything will be to everyone's taste - I never cared for Burl Ives that much, though listening to him now I respect it more than when seeing him endlessly on 1970s TV shows. Other people did "Rising Sun" better than Woody, and why not Marty Robbins on "Streets of Laredo", or a true bluegrass artist on "Muleskinner" or "Old Dan Tucker"?, etc etc. But there are a good number of absolute classics here, and nearly everyone will find some fascinating discoveries. The idea that you could do better than this for a few pounds is either shocking, or reminds me of $2 used two-fers back in my adolescence...
In short, I loved it.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2009
This album represents a nostalgia trip into my earliest interest in 'folk' - as represented by the folk songs I heard on the radio. 'This Land' by Woody Guthrie, "Big Rock Candy Mountain' by Burl Ives and 'If I Had A Hammer' - although I think it was the Trini Lopez version which was played. This anthology covers the greats of the era, not only Guthrie and Ives but Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Cisco Houston, Odetta and of course Leadbelly
I grew up learning basic guitar from Alan Lomax's 'Anthology of American Folk' and all the old favourites are here, 'John Henry' ' Santo Anno' "I Ride An Old Paint' 'St james Infirmary, "Pretty Boy Floyd' 'John Hardy' 'Goodnight Irene' and 'Erie Canal'; together with a host of other material which I have learned to love over the years including Guthrie's version of 'House of the Rising Sun'.

As an introduction to the early years of the 'folk revolution' it represents the songs and the artists who predated the Dylan years, the songs and people who influenced him, many of the songs having origins lost in time (many derived from material existing prior to the settlement of America) and others of comparatively recent origin, such as much of Guthrie's work.

I thoroughly recommend this compilation as it provides a basis for so much of what came later, a collection of material from which the folk revival of the 60's sprang.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2009
This was a happy find for me. It has some of the leading American folk artists on it such as Pete Seger, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and Odetta.
I recommend it if you do not know a lot about American folk music and would like to know more about it in the different eras.
I've been enjoying listening to it while I've been working but will no doubt become part of my summer listening for those long lazy days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2009
Great double CD for the price - brought back memories of listening to songs like "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" by Burl Ives as I was growing up - a varied compilation that should suit anyone interested in the origins of american folk.

It's surprising as you listen to the tracks how many you recognise and how many you actually know the words to and can sing along!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2012
I was really pleased with this CD - just what I wanted, a great selection of American folk songs sung by famous artists such as Leadbelly, The Weavers, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and others. For folksingers, this is a great resource.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2012
Vast amount of content. Much of it good and used to be found on Childrens Favorites in the late 50s
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2009
fabulous - had a great grin on my face listening to this while I did the ironing
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on 5 February 2013
After Listening to a lot of Lonnie Donegan songs , I suddenly had an urge to see where he got his inspiration from .
This for the money has been an absolute bargain . Also if anyone wanted to learn to sing and accompany themselves nearly all these songs are just 3 chords so fairly easy to learn . Get it !
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on 20 July 2014
o.k. but spotty in terms of covering the genre
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on 22 December 2014
Idont like this cd. Sorry i bought it.
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