The Golden Age Of American Popular Music: The Folk Hits: From The Hot 100: 1958-1966 CD
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The latest volume in Ace's popular Golden Age of American Popular Music series, THE FOLK HITS is a compendium of just about every folk hit to reach Billboard's Hot 100 (and a couple that `bubbled under') during the so-called Golden Age when folk music was regarded as a form of light entertainment rather than a means of political or personal expression.
It kicked off when the Kingston Trio topped the international charts with `Tom Dooley' in 1958 and reached its commercial peak in the summer of 1963 before fading in the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination in November that year. Some argue that `Tom Dooley' was as important a record as `Heartbreak Hotel' in that it sparked an explosion of interest in folk music which would profoundly influence the music of the 60s. Soon every major label (and some minor ones too) had a folk group on its books. The record companies attempted to break their folk acts through hit singles, hoping to stimulate sales in the lucrative album market. By the early 1960s, folk music had become big business and when TV took an interest, it became a national obsession. While some artists became more radicalised, many others remained apolitical and sought merely to entertain.
Here then are the hits of the folk era assembled on one CD from the best possible sources for the first time. Aside from all the major hits such as the rousing `Green Green', the classic `Walk Right In' and the wistful `Greenfields' are several tunes that have never, or only very rarely, appeared on CD before including `Ballad of The Alamo' by Bud & Travis (in stereo) and the Lee Hazlewood song/ production, `Stranger In Your Town' by the Shacklefords. Fans of Hazlewood's laconic style will immediately detect his influence. The Highwaymen's `Michael' and `Cottonfields' have not been available on CD for over a decade and are heard here in stereo. The Kingston Trio's four best known hits are presented here as the most representative samples of their work. Peter, Paul & Mary's `If I Had A Hammer' appears on a compilation for the first time too.
The humungous 28-page booklet contains a magnificent essay following the devel- opment of the post-war folk scene and details of each record featured, together with many rare ads and photos from an era so affectionately spoofed in the movie A Mighty Wind. THE FOLK HITS will have them a-hummin' and a-strummin'!
Top customer reviews
It can be argued, as one UK reviewer does, that the British skiffle craze pre-dates 1958, but the excellent booklet notes instead point to the earlier success of the Weavers as the root of the folk revival covered by this compilation. The Weavers became unpopular become of political issues, but re-emerged individually or as members of groups.
I started collecting compilations by some of these artists when I still had a job, and now that I am a pensioner I can resume the process. This compilation reminds me of the artists to look out for, but stands alone as an excellent collection in its own right,
My favourite singer among those featured here is Johnny Cash. I'm not really convinced that he belongs here although I can see why he is. It is great to hear Gale Garnett's original recording of We'll sing in the sunshine; the only other place I've heard it is on the sixties pop compilation Be My Baby 2, although I've heard covers of this excellent song by Helen Reddy and Dolly Parton. Good as they are, the original is the best - and I don't automatically think that way about songs.
Apart from Johnny Cash, country music is also represented by the song Silver threads and golden needles. Originally recorded by Wanda Jackson very early in her career, it was later covered by Skeeter Davis, whose version was heard and covered by the Springfields. Although the music they recorded as a trio is generally classified as folk, this track sounds very country to me; indeed, it also made the American country charts, near if not in the top 20. It didn't chart in the UK, where they had a top 5 hit with Island of dreams. Nit long after that, the female singer with the trio went solo and her subsequent pop career overshadows the music of the Springfields somewhat.
Elsewhere on this album. there is plenty of great music by the Rooftop Singers, the Brothers Four, the Highwaymen, Peter Paul and Mary, the New Christy Minstrels and others.
This is a great collection, whether for dabbling in folk music or as an addition to an existing folk music collection.
Here it was a case of this country borrowing freely from American sources to come up with the skiffle movement otherwise there was never really a folk movement using our folk music which was usually tied in with classical music eg Benjamin Britten.Not until the Fairport Convention/Steeleye Span era began in the late 60s did Britain explore its own folk music.Unlike Scotland or Ireland who would have some input into the American revival eg the expatriate Irish Rovers on this collection.
Mainly its the big ones who feature here-the New Christy Minstrels,Peter Paul & Mary,the Rooftop Singers etc
Loses 2 stars because of the appalling Mitchell Trio with their 1 minute humor and their equally unlistenable Limeliters.
My own favorite of the Urban Folk Revival is the Little Sisters' Goin' to Boston-an under 2 minutes blast of electric banjo picking of the Jean Ritchie song adapted from the English folk song What shall we do with a drunken sailor.This made No 99 for a week in late 1963 and led to an entire album of similar fare which has yet to appear on CD.
And this one should have been included here
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