American Industrial Ballads [Double CD] Double CD, Original recording remastered
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When, in 2006, Bruce Springsteen released 'We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions', an album of songs Pete Seeger had popularized over dozens of albums and several decades, the man in question was typically modest in his response. "Bruce phoned me three weeks before to say the project was being released. I was honoured, but I would have suggested another title, good heavens, I don't need the publicity!" Indeed. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of American folk and protest singing realizes that Seeger was, to his own generation, as much the Boss as Springsteen is to his. Both specialized in getting to the heart of the matter, expressing hopes and fears in straight-talking lyrics with memorable tunes to match. Enjoy these two CDs of classic Pete Seeger ballads.
Top customer reviews
This is because it is in fact two original albums collected together.
It is in fact a great release and stands out in a sea of "best of" or "greatest hits" albums.
The first album "American Industrial Ballads" was recorded in 1956 on the folkways label. It helped to inspire the American folk revival. And it influenced and paved the way for fellow folkies such as Bob Dylan.
This album is a concept album. It focuses on the industrialisation of America over 140 years through the stories within these ballads. The songs reflect the lives of people. It is an insight into the lives of ordinary folk that worked in mining, agriculture and textile industries.
Many people today will criticise the simplistic style of performance. But it should be remembered how important these recordings were in popularising the folk music of America. Without the important input from the likes of Seegar and Guthrie these songs may have been lost forever and songwriters like Dylan may never have brought forth their own original material. Also, since folk music is open to interpretation it is no crime that these ballads are performed in this way.
The performance is simplistic, that is true, but there is a beauty in these interpretations that allow the listener to focus on the actual lyrics of the ballads and the stories they convey.
It is a fine collection of traditional folk songs of America.
The second album on disc two is "American Favourite ballads" which was recorded in 1957. This album continues the same style of interpretation which makes this release of a double CD compilation of two albums sit comfortably together. Once again there is a wonderful collection of traditional folk songs.
And the bonus here is that a lot of the songs will be very familiar to most people.
For example "Yankee Doodle", "so long its been good to know you", "skip to my Lou", "The wreck of the old 97", "on top of old Smokey" and "home on the range".
There are two bonus tracks as well. "Kisses sweeter than wine" and "she'll be coming round the mountain"
On a personal note this album also includes a version of an old American folk song "Old Dan Tucker", a song I first heard over 30 years ago on of all things a TV show called "little house on the prairie". This song was sung regularly by one character and for many years hoped to find a recording of it. This version is excellent.
The sound quality is very good indeed and the whole release is a treasured coupling of two great classic albums.
If you are interested in American tradition folk music or Pete Seegar this is highly recommended.
While Woody Guthrie and others present themselves as dust-bowl refugees, hitching a ride on a freight train as they travel from town to town, Pete Seeger's manner is that of a very eager school teacher, or even a scout-master leading you in a chorus of Kumbaya around the campfire. You can hear it in his voice on many of these songs - some even have a pompous little intro. This does rather mean that they lack a certain feeling of authenticity, or dare I say 'heart' - the songs of misery and poverty are not really about his experiences, although you cannot doubt his commitment to the cause.
The first CD in this set has several rather preachy union anthems, such as 'Which side are you on' and 'We shall not be moved', while the second has more general folk songs, including children's songs like 'Jim Crack Corn' and 'This old man, he played One'. It is not a compilation you will listen to over and over again, but for those who are interested in the history of American folk music this is worth a listen.
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