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on 13 October 2004
Her first two albums had been out of print (and ludicrously expensive) until this came along. While it doesn't hold a candle to her later works, it does illustrate where she came from, and her folk singing is certainly up there with the likes of Sandy Denny, Maddy Prior, Joan Baez et. al.
I personally prefer her later works, with more original (or at least 'modern') material, however any fan will want to have these albums for completeness (and they are not =bad=, they're just not as good as her later works, IMO). If you are a fan, buy it already. If you're not, you should probably be looking elsewhere in her extensive catalogue.
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Judy's first two albums, presented here together in one magnificent package, were dominated by traditional folk songs, while the few songs of more recent vintage blend in well with the traditional songs.

The first album, Maid of constant sorrow, originally appeared in 1961. Two of the most famous songs here are Wild mountain thyme (a song of Scottish origin) and John Riley, both of which the Byrds later covered for their Fifth dimension album. Another highlight is The wars of Germany, which is actually not so much about the wars themselves but rather the bereavement caused by them. Judy feels that it illustrates the futility of wars, but the lesson is never learned as the world seems unable to stop fighting them. Many of the other songs are about Irish rebellion, reflecting the influence of Judy`s Irish father.

The second album, Golden apples of the sun, originally appeared in 1962, with tracks taken from a variety of sources. The title track is a poem (Song of the wandering Angus) originally written by W B Yeats, but later set to music. Little brown dog is a traditional song that may have originally had a political meaning, though that meaning appears to have been lost, so now it's just a fun song for children. Great selchie of Shule Skerry originates from the Orkney Islands to the north of Scotland, being about a selchie (seal-man) from as islet (Shule Skerry) there. Legend has it that the creature spent most of the time as a seal in the water, but occasionally came ashore as a man. Yeah, right. Poland is the source for Tell me who I'll marry, though I don't know how the song evolved and when it was originally translated. British folk fans should be familiar with Lark in the morning, a traditional English song still popular in folk circles. There are several other excellent tracks here including some of Irish origin.

Following these two albums, Judy became interested in contemporary folk music as subsequent albums show. Though she continued recording traditional songs as and when it suited her (notably reviving Amazing grace), I don't think she recorded another album dominated by traditional songs. As such, this twofer is somewhat different from anything that Judy did afterwards and we should treasure it for that.
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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.
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on 5 March 2003
While I have long been familiar with Judy Collins from her work in the '70s, this twofer ... was a real find ... Particularly of note are the many Irish and Scots traditional songs featured on AMOCS and GAOTS--JC's reading of "The Rising of the Moon" is a most different take from what most would be familiar with (e.g. The Dubliners and/or The Clancy Brothers), which were more rousing, on-your-feet-and-fight-for-old-Ireland versions. This one illustrates more definitely the fate of the men involved in the 1798 Rising--bitter and a tad menacing.
On the whole, very much worth checking out.
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on 13 November 2003
I had forgotten just how good Judy Collins was - I guess I still prefer Joan Baez, but only just!
This CD puts together her first two albums from 1961 and 1962 and consists almost entirely of traditional material from various sources. Judy sings and plays guitar with two other musicians providing second guitar/bass/banjo - so her wonderful voice is allowed to shine through the fairly spare accompaniement.
Highlights for me include Wild Mountain Thyme, Tell Me Who I'll Marry (a Polish song) and Fannario. Every song is a coconut - with the possible exception of the fatuous Fenian song (great tune ludicrous lyrics).
A steal at the price.
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on 20 June 2012
Pleasing collection of varied tracks including earlier material. The unique pure clarity of her voice is, as ever, captivating and delightful.
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on 24 February 2014
Wonderful songs sung by a wonderful singer. Especially live the setting of the poem by Yeats. The golden apples of the sun....
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on 16 March 2013
I am emjoying this cd very much and would highly recommend. Choice and variety of songs very much to my liking
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