Joan Baez's first album was released in 1960 and it was a revelation. Here was an angelic-looking, dark-haired 19-year-old singing ancient songs, most of them drawn from the Child Ballads, a set of 305 numbered ballads from England and Scotland (and several American variants) collected by Francis James Child in the late 19th century, with a soprano voice so pure and mesmerizing that it appeared as timeless as a voice in an elegant and graceful dream. She made ancient love and murder ballads seem like cool and serious business, and without Baez as a virginal-looking poster girl, the commercial end of the urban folk revival of the early '60s might never have gotten off the ground. This release includes a remastered version of that first album and adds in Folksingers 'Round Harvard Square, Baez's first actual record, which features her singing solo on six songs, as part of a duo with Bill Wood on four songs, and as part of a trio with Wood and Ted Alevizos on another song. The bonus set originally appeared on LP in 1959 from the little Veritas Records label and was intended as an introduction to the Cambridge, Massachusetts folk scene that was just beginning to flourish at the time. Paired like this, one realizes that Baez just didn’t suddenly appear from the heavens after all when her official album came out a year later, but that her approach and stage presence had been artfully formed and nurtured in the Cambridge folk clubs.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett