Journeymen

Capitol Collectors Series

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This single CD seemed to be out of print shortly after its release in the spring of 1992, and was likewise the only compact disc collection to contain music from the early 1960s folk-revival trio, The Journeymen -- featuring Dick Weissman (banjo/vocals), Scott McKenzie (guitar/vocals) and future Mamas and the Papas founder, John Phillips (guitar/vocals). Their initial break came in early 1961 in the form of an audition with Frank Werber and René Cárdenas, the concurrent management team responsible for the success of the Kingston Trio. This would eventually land them a deal with Capitol Records. After performing throughout the United States northeast, they would become regulars on the café/coffeehouse circuit in Greenwich Village at venues such as Gerde's Folk City, where they shared the bill with the likes of Bob Dylan and Lightnin' Hopkins. Prior to dissolving less than three years later, the Journeymen documented their first release, The Journeymen (1961), followed by Coming Attraction: Live! (1962), recorded in June of '62 at the Padded Cell in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and their final effort New Directions in Folk Music (1963). This CD is highlighted by not only these three LPs but also "Heredity-Environment," "Oh, Miss Mary," "Mary Wore Three Links Of Chain," "Greenland Whale Fisheries" and "I May Be Right," all of which make their debut on this Capitol Collectors Series (1992) anthology. The finely-honed harmony arrangements from Phillips combined the same intricate jazz-infused style as the Four Freshmen with a distinct modern approach that would become a definite precursor to the Mamas and the Papas' rich vocals. Equally impressive is the robust instrumentation, especially the precision and verve of Weissman's banjo prowess. Those seeking an anthology should be alerted to the Very Best of the Journeymen (1998), a 25-track compilation that will suffice for those not concerned with bare bones packaging or less than stellar audio quality. More thorough-minded enthusiasts will want to take note that in 2004 Collectors' Choice Music reissued all three Journeymen titles, each with copious supplementary materials and brilliant digital remastering.

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