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American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 2

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Album Review

In 1957, Folkways Records released Pete Seeger's American Favorite Ballads, his renditions of some of the better-known songs in the traditional folk repertoire. Of course, the selection was far from exhaustive, so in 1958 Folkways followed with this second volume. Seeger draws from many different sources, beginning with Stephen Foster's "Oh, Susanna!," which is old enough to be considered a folk song. Tunes like "Sally Ann," "Shenandoah," and "Careless Love" have country & western origins. Naturally, Seeger looks to his two major mentors, Woody Guthrie for "Hard Traveling," and particularly Lead Belly. Taking up the 12-string guitar, Lead Belly's instrument, Seeger presents his own versions of "Midnight Special," "Black Girl," and "Alabama Bound," played as Lead Belly would. ("Midnight Special" even gets an extra verse referring to him.) While some of the performances are loud and boisterous, Seeger gives "Shenandoah" a nearly a cappella treatment, only occasionally using a banjo chord, and he sings "Black Is the Color" unaccompanied. Thus, the album has considerable variety in terms of the type of material and the approach Seeger takes. Of course, there's still plenty more where these came from.


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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