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The first two folk albums from a young Judy Collins,
This review is from: A Maid Of Constant Sorrow (Audio CD)
This import CD reissues the first two Judy Collins albums from the early 1960s when she was singing traditional folk material with her crystal pure soprano voice accompanied by acoustic guitar. Collins had been trained as a classical pianist and when she turned to folk music she brought along the sensibilities of a classicist as she became one of the main interpreters of folk songs in the Sixties (choosing between Collins and Joan Baez as your personal favorite was the question of the day, not that you could go wrong with either selection).
"A Maid of Constant Sorrow" was released in 1961 and listening to it will surprise her fans because this is not the Judy Collins they are used to hearing. In retrospect it is clear that Collins is still learning how to use her voice to her advantage; she tends to stay more in her lower register at this point and the glorious high notes we associate with her singing is seen only in spots (e.g., "Wild Mountain Thyme"). But even in these early days there are some nice little gems, such as "The Pickilie Bush," "Tim Evans," and especially "John Riley." I especially liked her sea shanty "Sailor's Life," where her youthful enthusiasm helps carry the song along.
Her 1962 release "Golden Apples of the Sun" shows significantly more confidence as a singer. What is interesting to me is the obscurity of these traditional folk songs, although she does branch out into some other genres, such as gospel with "Twelve Gates to the City." The best tracks on this second album would be the title song, the ballad "Fannerio," and "Crow on the Cradle." Note: Spike Lee's father, Bill Lee, plays bass on this album.
These two albums are more of historical interest at this point, because you are not going to find them to be quintessential Judy Collins. However, if you remember the times you can appreciate that this was a period when folk music did not mean commercially viable songs but more "authentic" music. The bottom line is that fans of that voice are going to appreciate hearing it at the beginning of one of the celebrate careers in folk music.