Various Artists

The Best of Folk Era

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The so-called folk revival of the early '60s might just as easily have been called the Urbanization of Folk Music as college students, city singers, managers, record labels, radio stations and music publishers seemingly latched on to the golden ring of American folk music all at the same time, creating a brief commercial bubble for the genre. It might be stretching things a bit to call this collection "the best of the folk era" (where, for instance, is anything by Bob Dylan?) but it does include the Rooftop Singers' radical pop reconstruction of Gus Cannon's "Walk Right In," the Kingston Trio's smoothed-out and hugely successful version of the Appalachian murder ballad "Tom Dooley," Joan Baez's angelic rendering of Phil Ochs' "There But for Fortune," and the Weavers' arrangement of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene," a song and version that for all practical purposes laid the groundwork for the subsequent folk revival. In the end, this is a collection that sums up AM radio's perspective on the folk boom, but truthfully the best music of the whole movement never made it to AM radio.

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