Various Artists

Prestige/Folklore Years, Vol. 1: All Kinds of Folks

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While the Elektra and Vanguard labels were the most successful and influential American folk record companies of the early 1960s (and the later 1960s), for a while Prestige/Folklore wasn't far behind. This is the first volume of an anthology series that collects highlights from the label's folk catalog of the first half of the 1960s. The first volume is a strong entry, with cuts from Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Tom Rush (in his early folkie days), Peggy Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, and Jean Redpath. As is often the case on such various artist compilations, for those deeply familiar with the genre, the most enticing tracks are the ones by performers which aren't nearly as well known. Eric Von Schmidt, known primarily for his influence upon the early Bob Dylan, contributes a topical original song, "Joshua Gone Barbados"; Canadian Bonnie Dobson, most known as the originator of "Morning Dew," sings pretty ballads in a high voice in the then-fashionable Joan Baez/Judy Collins mold. The real discovery, though, is Maxine Sellers' moody "Long Chain" (from 1964), with its entrancing jagged hard plucked guitar and effectively restrained yet emotive vocal. Len and Judy's two cuts (also from 1964) are also interesting, showing Prestige trying to move into a more commercial full-band harmony folk sound, though without losing its integrity.

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