Time-Life Music's The Folk Years: Yesterday's Gone is the second 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 20 were Top 40 hits. These selections are sequenced in no particular order, and the compilers have been liberal in what they choose 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. The compilers appear to have been limited, however, by licensing restrictions. Although annotator Barney Hoskyns discusses Bob Dylanand four of his songs appear in cover versions, he is not included as a performer. On the other hand, the Kingston Trio are allowed four tracks, and with the further inclusion of Trini Lopez (whose version of "If I Had a Hammer" is used instead of the presumably unavailable one by Peter, Paul & Mary), the Limeliters, and the Chad Mitchell Trio, there is a distinct early-'60s commercial folk slant to the performers. Also heavily represented is the Los Angeles branch of the folk-rock sound of 1965: Cher, the Byrds, and the Turtles all turn up singing Dylan songs. 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