Pete Seeger

American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 5 [1962]

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Lovers of Pete Seeger's banjo playing will find this final volume of American Favorite Ballads especially gratifying, as it opens with "Red River Valley," showcasing that instrument, and he also features the banjo prominently on "Molly Malone," "Riflemen of Bennington," and "St. James Infirmary," among other songs. And as those four songs indicate, Seeger was ranging far and wide for repertoire on this album, and even farther for tone, balancing a gentle traditional folk ambience against his boisterous exuberance on numbers such as "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum." By this time, he was also reaching such a wide audience with records like this, even after having been blacklisted from network television, that no less a label than Columbia Records would soon approach him about recording for them. This album was an indicator of how little "risk" Columbia was taking -- the fifth time around in this series, Seeger's spell as a performer is not one iota less compelling than it was on the previous four albums and, if anything, even more powerful and beguiling.

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