Burl Ives

Coronation Concert

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In the summer of 1953, Burl Ives went over to England to perform as part of the Coronation Festival Series (timed to coincide with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II) at Royal Festival Hall, London. His performance, which fell on Ives' 44th birthday, delighted British audiences who'd mostly heard him on records until that point. Ives knew how to work a crowd, and this one responded beautifully, to judge from the recording that Decca Records had made of the event, and the result was this LP, released by American Decca in 1956. The recording is somewhat limited by the technology of the time -- Ives' voice and guitar share a lot of the ambience with the crowd, and one can clearly hear noises off the stage and requests being called out, among other extraneous sounds. But in many ways that makes this a much more naturalistic listening experience than modern live recording (even when it's not "sweetened" and redubbed after the fact), with its reliance on uni-directional microphones etc. At times one does wish that the singer's voice or his guitar were a little more forward in the mix, but given the date of the event captured for posterity, it's probably best just to enjoy a superb performance at face value. Ives' repertory here, of course, included most of the songs for which he was best known, going all the way back to the mid-'40s and "Big Rock Candy Mountain," and he finishes, of course, with "Blue Tail Fly."

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