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LifeLines Live

Peter, Paul & Mary

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Album Review

Peter, Paul & Mary's 1995 album LifeLines Live was a kind of "duet" album that found them sharing microphones with such mentors as the surviving Weavers, such contemporaries as Judy Collins, and such descendants as John Gorka, performing a set of old favorites and a few new songs. In January 1996, the trio staged a TV concert at Sony Studios in New York where they reassembled some of the original guest stars with a few substitutions. The result was one of the more impressive video performances of the year. LifeLines Live is a soundtrack album to the TV special, and if it's less interesting than the broadcast version, that's only because there is a certain redundancy: One already has access to the original album, which is largely replicated in a concert setting. Eleven of the earlier album's 15 tracks are here again, albeit with different personnel in some cases. Ramblin' Jack Elliott's place in "Deportee" has been taken by the equally pleasing Tom Paxton; Christian singer Susan Werner accompanies Noel Paul Stookey on his inspirational song "For the Love of It All" instead of Emmylou Harris; Odetta duets with Mary Travers on "House of the Rising Sun" instead of B.B. King; Buddy Mondlock joins the trio on his composition "The Kid"; and "The Great Mandala" no longer features Carly and Lucy Simon (though Richie Havens remains), while Travers essays "Home Is Where the Heart Is" without the help of Holly Near. Along with Havens, Dave Van Ronk, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, and John Sebastian are back from the first recording. The songs new to the live disc include favorites such as "Stewball" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," though Stookey introduces a new novelty tune, the crowd-pleasing "Virtual Party," which is as current as the Internet. Throughout, the trio is typically warm and fervent, and the audience is enthusiastic, but as an album within the group's catalog, the recording is more a marketing tie-in than an essential addition.


Formed: 1961 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The most popular folk group of the 1960s, Peter, Paul and Mary in later decades have also proved themselves to be among the most durable music acts in history. Their longevity dwarfs that of the Weavers, while the fact that the trio continues to be associated with a major record label (Warner Bros.) after decades in the business sets them apart from rivals like the Kingston Trio and the Brothers Four. Then again, perhaps it isn't so surprising — Peter, Paul and Mary's roots...
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