The New Christy Minstrels

Golden Classics Edition: Today/Ramblin'

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This is an odd reissue, compiling one of the Christys' weaker LPs with their strongest individual album on one CD. Today did double duty as an official group album and the soundtrack to the film Advance to the Rear, and it has a quartet of good, rousing songs typical of the Christys in a boisterous mood ("This Ol' Riverboat," "Whistlin' Dixie," "Way Down in Arkansas," "Charleston Town") and one achingly beautiful ballad ("Anything Love Can Buy"), as well as the hit title track. Unfortunately, those songs are interspersed with marches, dances, and other incidental music from the movie that doesn't work outside of that context. Ramblin', by contrast, holds up extremely well and, along with the original Christys' debut LP, represents their best studio work, mixing blues influences, 19 century popular songs, adaptations of traditional material ("Wagoner's Song"), and group originals (including "Green, Green"), all within the framework of the group's preferred big-band folk style. The Collectables CD reissue marks the second appearance for the Rambin' album, and it is a far brighter, cleaner, richer remastering than the late '80s Columbia version of the same material. Its value is further augmented by the addition of two bonus tracks, "This Land Is Your Land" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee," which were chart hits for the group before and after the release of these two albums. Overall, the CD is a great showcase for Barry McGuire, Nick Woods, and Art Podell, which makes this a good addition to the Collectors' Choice Live From Ledbetters CD, although that same label's double-CD anthology is still preferable.

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