Time-Life Music's The Folk Years: Blowin' in the Wind is the first album in a four-volume set that surveys the 1960s folk revival in a manner typical of the Time-Life approach to compilations generally. That is to say that the selections consist mostly of hit singles; of the 30 tracks spread across two discs here, 24 were singles that made the Billboard Hot 100 between 1957 and 1969, and 23 were Top 40 hits. These selections are sequenced in no particular order, and the compilers have been liberal in what they chose to include, stretching the definition of folk to include the folk-influenced pop/rock of performers like the Lovin' Spoonful and the Mamas & the Papas, and even Otis Redding, whose "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" concludes the collection. The compilers appear to have been limited, however, by licensing restrictions. Although annotator Barney Hoskyns discusses Bob Dylan and quotes Phil Ochs, neither is included. It also seems that Peter, Paul & Mary, while allowing the use of their LP track "All My Trials," must have denied use of their hit recording of "Blowin' in the Wind." Otherwise, it's hard to imagine why the Kingston Trio's rendition would have been included. On the other hand, the decision to use Pete Seeger's performance of his co-composition "Guantanamera" may have been a deliberate choice, since the Sandpipers' hit version has turned up on other compilations. This is not a scholarly album that attempts to give a sense of the history of the folk movement, but it does contain some of the major songs of that movement and performances by some of the major artists, and it's full of hits, so it should appeal to music fans of a certain age who heard this material on the radio when they were young.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2