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Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads - Volume 4

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Album Review

Oscar Brand is the Doug Clark & the Hot Nuts of folk music, singing bawdy songs replete with four- and five-letter words that many people would like to believe hadn't been invented yet when Brand recorded this series of folk albums in the '50s. Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads, Vol. 4 is an entry in only one of Brand's series (his Bawdy Western Songs series had numerous volumes, too), and, like the others, includes acoustic performances with harmony vocals courtesy of Dave Sear. Their voices are so similar, the effect is the same as if Brand had double-tracked his own voice. Most songs feature a banjo and acoustic guitar for accompaniment, over which Brand sings such classics as "Sweet Violets" (the dirty version; not the one with which Dinah Shore had a hit) and "I Used to Work in Chicago," a variant of which Merle Travis recorded early in his career. Part of the melody of "The Old Sea Chest" will be recognizable to some listeners as the union song "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum." Brand also mixes up his performance style a little by affecting a Scottish accent on "The Cuckoo's Nest," but otherwise resembles a poor man's Pete Seeger. This isn't the bawdiest of his bawdy albums, but is notable for its versions of a few well-known folk songs.

Biography

Born: February 7, 1920 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

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

Oscar Brand was one of the stalwart American folksingers, writers, and interpreters. Over the course of his 70-some-year career he released over 90 albums. He roamed the country with Woody Guthrie, concertized with Lead Belly, promoted folk of all kinds like Pete Seeger, and hosted the Folksong Festival program on New York's WNYC for over 70 years. Many of his recordings contain parodies on single subjects such as holidays, car songs, or political satire. He was well known for his many collections...
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Contemporaries