This anthology compiles over two dozen sides from the traditional folk trio, the Journeymen. During their brief existence, Dick Weissman (banjo/vocals), Scott McKenzie (guitar/vocals), and future Mamas & the Papas founder, John Phillips (guitar/vocals), created a powerful blend of intricate vocals and ambitious instrumentation. The selections on Very Best of the Journeymen (1998) come from their three early-'60s long-players, The Journeymen (1961), Coming Attraction: Live! (1962) -- which was recorded at the Padded Cell in June of 1962 -- and New Directions in Folk Music (1963). Plus, there are a few key singles and rare tracks that initially surfaced on the out of print Capitol Collectors Series (1992) anthology. Their successful audition with Frank Werber and René Cárdenas, who were managing the Dave Guard-led Kingston Trio in 1961, resulted in more exposure via a deal with Capitol Records as well as prominent gigs on the café/coffeehouse scene throughout the United States. Although the group were active less than four years, their influence was indelible. The crisp, energetic, and complex harmonies from Phillips were the perfect foil for the precision and verve of Weissman's deft and deadly accurate banjo frailing. Their repertoire consisted primarily of a unique take on folk standards and their own clever compositions. Among the highlights are the calypso-informed "River, She Come Down," and the minstrel-esque balladry of "Fenario" (aka "Peggy-O" and "Pretty Peggy-O"), as well as the Weissman showcase "Chase the Rising Sun." In 2004, Collectors' Choice Music reissued all three Journeymen discs, each with copious supplementary materials and brilliant digital remastering, which bests the slipshod packaging and inconsequential audio quality on this title. For those tight of coin or satisfied with the basics, Very Best of the Journeymen may prove to be a sound investment.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer