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The Folk Hits Collection

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Album Review

The Highwaymen are generally regarded as also-rans in what Martin Mull dubbed "the Folk Scare," but while Peter, Paul & Mary and the Kingston Trio are better remembered, these five earnest young men from Wesleyan University (Dave Fisher, Steve Butts, Bobby Burnett, Steve Trott, and Chan Daniels) made a handful of fine records between 1961 and 1964, and this collection features material from their vintage albums for United Artists as well as newer recordings the reunited group cut in the 21st century. Formed in 1958, the members of the Highwaymen made no bones about the fact they played folk music simply because they liked it without much thought of a career — they opted to finish their senior year in college rather than play music full-time when their first album began to sell, and only one pursued a career in music after the act folded in 1964. While these guys doubtless had a low hip quotient even at the peak of their stardom (their biggest hit was"Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," after all), there's an unpretentious joy in their '60s recordings that's infectious, and the boys were uniformly fine singers, bringing expert harmonies to such chestnuts as "Cottonfields," "The Gypsy Rover," "The Big Rock Candy Mountain, and "I'll Fly Away." In the '90 the original members of the Highwaymen (minus Daniels, who died in 1975) performed a few reunion shows, and have been playing a handful of concerts every year since, and this disc includes five songs from their reunion shows, which reveal the Highwaymen's simple charm and love of the music haven't faded a bit some forty years on. EMI's 1992 CD collection Michael, Row The Boat Ashore: The Best of the Highwaymen is still the best representation of the group's work, but this is an engaging look at their past and present that should please fans of '50s and '60s folk.

Customer Reviews

Michael row the boat ashore

My dad calls me Michael row the boat ashore haha


Formed: 1958 in Middletown, CT

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s

It's easy enough to dismiss the Highwaymen as representatives of a brand of folk music that has gone out of fashion, at least among the media tastemakers. Their kind of harmony singing, coupled with traditional songs and ballads, has seldom been written of in the decades since their heyday. What's more, their late-'50s collegiate origins, as a quintet whose purpose was to foster entertainment more than to raise consciousness, belonged more to the setting of the hootenanny than the anti-war teach-in...
Full Bio

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