Hamilton Camp

Welcome to Hamilton Camp

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On the LP immediately preceding Welcome to Hamilton Camp, 1967's Here's to You, the folksinger had made a flawed attempt to cross over to orchestrated folk-pop. On 1969's Welcome to Hamilton Camp, oddly, he returned largely to his pre-folk-rock roots as a straight folksinger. Camp played all the guitars and harmonicas and sang all the lead and background voices on this wholly acoustic record; in fact, he did everything, save for a little piano by producer Bobby Paris. It's a curious mix of Camp originals and covers of songs both famous (by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Peter LaFarge, and Leonard Cohen) and obscure (by Patrick Sky, Bob Neuwirth, and Peter Boyd). Camp's brand of acoustic folk is both moody and haunting, enhanced by some reverb in the production. Yet, although he's a decent interpreter, he's not such a fine one that his covers of already classic songs like Simon's "America" and "April She Will," Dylan's "I Shall Be Released," or LaFarge's "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" (popularized by Johnny Cash) can compete with or reinvent the originals. He would have been better suited to emphasize the more obscure covers and his own compositions, though these are erratic, veering from bland to effectively stark and brooding (as on Sky's "Nectar of God," Neuwirth's "Trout," and his own "People in a Hurry" and "Now I Am Older"). It's a minor album, but one that fits solitary rainy-day moods well, and does include a nifty folk cover of Cohen's "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye."

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