Leave it to the tape vault excavationists and rare recording scavengers at Collectors' Choice Music to compile what is undoubtedly the final word on the Canadian folk trio the Halifax Three. Containing over an hour of music, The Complete Halifax Three combines both their self-titled debut album and follow-up San Francisco Bay Blues, as well as the 45 rpm only track "All the Good Times." Although a few scant tunes have turned up on various-artists compilations -- most notably Before They Were the Mamas & the Papas...The Magic Circle -- this release is the first to thoroughly examine the band's output. The Halifax Three included the enormous talents of future Papa Dennis (aka Denny) Doherty(guitar/vocals), Pat La Croix (bass/vocals), and the spiritual center of the trio, Richard Byrne (guitar/vocals). While each member contributed a strong musical presence in the band, only Doherty would garner further musical fame. Their sound is somewhat typical of the burgeoning folk movement that gave birth to artists such as the Kingston Trio, the Highwaymen, and the Chad Mitchell Trio. Likewise, their recordings exhibit a somewhat standard amalgam of traditional folk and blues material. What separates the Halifax Three are Byrne's interesting, inventive arrangements and notable originals. Of the cover versions, "All My Trials," "East Virginia," and "Fare-Thee-Well" are most notable for their pure, clear vocals and instrumentals. The complete reworking of "Goodnight Irene" -- called "All the Good Times" -- is delivered with a somber gospel feel -- perhaps due to having been recorded in an anonymous black church somewhere in New York City. Before the Halifax Three completely split, fate would cast them on the road with the Journeymen -- yet another folk trio whose membership included the husband and wife team of John and Michelle Phillips. The rest, as they say, is history. With the addition of "Mama" Cass Elliot, they became known internationally as the Mamas & the Papas.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer