The Kingston Trio

Everybody's Talking: The Houston Tapes, Vol. 1

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As warm and friendly as the Kingston Trio were in the '60s, their live recording Everybody's Talking: The Houston Tapes, Vol. 1 seems clumsy and a little disturbing. The opening track, the traditional Woody Guthrie tune "Hard, Ain't It Hard," devolves into a bawdy sexual theme (obviously taken from the song's title), and the various jokes about gays and masturbation seem awfully creepy from these guys. Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and George Groves still seem to be in great spirits, but their voices have seen better days, and while their humor on their original LPs seems bright and original, in 1989 their onstage banter seems forced, a little mean-spirited, and rarely funny. About halfway through, Shane sings a song called "Everything" that they claim to be performing live, but it very clearly fades out the audience noise and fades in a studio version, then back out into applause. Given what Folk Era Records decided to keep on the album, it is almost unimaginable to think why they decided to pull the live version of that particular song off. Unlike seasoned artists like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, whose journeys through life and show business have added some wisdom and depth to their performances, the Kingston Trio's travels seem to have made them seem more like Vegas comedians performing way off the strip.

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