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American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 2

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Album Review

Similar to the 2002 "reissue" of Smithsonian Folkways' American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1, the second volume is not a straight re-release of the 1959 Folkways LP, but it is part of a newer five-disc series incorporating not only Pete Seeger's American Favorite Ballads albums, but also tracks from similar Seeger projects from that era, like his American Ballads and Frontier Ballads albums. Regardless of where the source material came from, the resulting CD is a work of its own. Containing 27 of the story-songs that have become best known in coffeehouses and nurseries across the English-speaking world, the album presents the tracks in a stark, barebones manner with Seeger's warm cradling voice in the forefront, accompanied usually by his banjo or guitar, but occasionally completely a cappella. Familiar tunes like "Barbara Allen," "Jesse James," "Pretty Polly," and "House of the Rising Sun" are all represented, as is a startlingly beautiful reading of "Poor Boy" and a rare solo rendition of "Wimoweh." Seeger's passion for keeping the folk tradition alive never gets too academic, and his genuine love of passing these songs on to new generations is infectious. This series is a must-own for parents, historians, and fans of folk music.


Born: 03 May 1919 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Perhaps no single person in the 20th century did more to preserve, broadcast, and redistribute folk music than Pete Seeger, whose passion for politics, the environment, and humanity earned him both ardent fans and vocal enemies ever since he first began performing in the late '30s. His battle against injustice led to his being blacklisted during the McCarthy era, celebrated during the turbulent '60s, and welcomed at union rallies throughout his life. His tireless efforts regarding global concerns...
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