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The Early Years, 1958-1962

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Album Review

Moses Asch had a unique method of recording artists back in the '40s and '50s. Someone like Woody Guthrie, for instance, would just drop by Folkways when he had an idea and record. Asch might pay him five dollars for the session, and in this way he accumulated a vault full of material. Perhaps this explains the incredible fact that the New Lost City Ramblers recorded 12 albums between 1958-1962. The Early Years (1958-1962) collects 26 songs, over 70 minutes of music, from these dozen discs, creating an excellent document of the band's years with Tom Paley. Paley, John Cohen, and Mike Seeger formed the New Lost City Ramblers in 1958 with the idea of playing old-time music recorded between the late '20s and 1940. While it has often been stated that the trio intended to copy — phrase for phrase, lick for lick — the old 78s, Jon Pankake points out in the liner notes that this wasn't the case. Instead, the New Lost City Ramblers wanted to insert the same vim and vigor into "The Battleship of Maine" and "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss" as the original players. What stands out now, some 40 years after these recordings, is the band's versatility. Whether cutting loose on an instrumental like "Colored Aristocracy" or singing tight harmony on "Brown's Ferry Blues," the three comrades form a tight unit. While the arrangements never outgrow the number of persons in the band, each player's ability to play multiple instruments lends diversity to the material. The Early Years (1958-1962) offers a very good introduction to an innovative and influential band. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Customer Reviews

If you know who these guys are, no review necessary, but . . .

if you listened to and enjoyed the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack and are looking for similar music, the New Lost City Ramblers is your next step in exploring "Old Time" music. They had an enormous influence on Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead, among others. This is music that does not fit neatly into any commercial genre (Country, Bluegrass, Blues); the songs are just amazing old songs traceable to our nation's roots in the cultures of the British Isles and Africa -- songs that people of the American South performed for family and friends before TV was available. The members of the band (two of the original members have Yale degrees) are serious students of music, each of whom seems able to play any instrument with strings. All acoustic, no drums. "When First in this Country" and "Leaving Home" are outstanding, while "Battleship of Maine" and "Bill Morgan and His Gal" are funny despite their dated subjects.


Formed: 1958 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '90s

During the folk boom of the late '50s and early '60s, the New Lost City Ramblers introduced audiences to the authentic string band sound of the 1920s and '30s, in the process educating a generation that had never heard this uniquely American sound of old-time music. While maintaining music with a social conscience, they added guts and reality to the folk movement, performing with humor and obvious reverence for the music. In 1958, Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley modeled their band after groups...
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The Early Years, 1958-1962, The New Lost City Ramblers
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