Joan Baez

Live at Newport

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This album draws tracks from Joan Baez's appearances at the 1963, 1964, and 1965 Newport Folk Festivals, a time period in which she was the very epicenter of the folk scene. With her clear, strong, and bell-like soprano, Baez brought together traditional-folk materials with some of the best songs of the then-emerging songwriters of the so-called folk revival (she was the introduction for many to the work of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Richard FariƱa, and others), projecting a thematic unity between the old and the new that was instrumental in the success of the 1960s folk boom. This collection isn't quite as striking as her other live albums from this period, although only by degree, and there are several interesting tracks here, including the opener, a live version of Dylan's beautiful "Farewell Angelina," which seems almost written for (or about?) Baez. A duet with Mary Travers on "Lonesome Valley" is another highlight, as is an audience singalong on "Johnny Cuckoo." The final two tracks, "It Ain't Me Babe" and "With God on Our Side," are duets with Dylan, and while these performances may have strong historical value, the truth is that Baez and Dylan didn't sing well together at this point in their association, with both singers dragging the song in two different directions at once, almost as if it were a battle for dominance, which, time suggests, it may well have been.

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