Nearly a decade before coming into her own as one of the most prominent singer/songwriters of the '70s, Carly Simon hitchhiked around Massachusetts with her sister Lucy as one half of the Simon Sisters. The folk revival was going strong, headed by groups like the Weavers and Peter, Paul & Mary, and the Simon Sisters, what with their matching peasant blouses and close-knit, Everly Brothers harmonies, fit right in. They managed to release several albums on the Kapp label, make a few appearances on shows like Hootenanny and the Dick Cavett Show, and grace the charts with the single "Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod" before calling it quits in the late '60s when Lucy got married. Carly, of course, went on to bigger and better things, and the Simon Sisters' recordings were left to languish on LP's for roughly three decades. Fast-forward to 2006, and the Simon Sisters finally see the light of day with Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod: The Kapp Recordings, a limited-edition release that combines the first two albums, The Simon Sisters and Cuddlebug, into one big bite. This collection offers a good overview of the Simon Sisters' repertoire, which was mostly made up of lullabies and adaptations of traditional folk songs. What's interesting is the amount of darkness and depth Carly and Lucy, young as they were, managed to work into their songs. "Breton Lullaby" sounds sweet ("Now your mother rocks you so lovingly"), but a closer look reveals gnarled, slightly malevolent underpinnings ("The hungry sea is waiting for you 'neath the moon"). At their best, the Simon Sisters were oddly Old World, crooning lullabies and ballads that echoed the Brothers Grimm. At their weakest, they belted out strident folk revivalist anthems like "Rise Up" and chirped powder-puff pink bubblegum numbers like "Cuddlebug." While this album will have immediate appeal to those interested in the '60s folk revival, it's not clear whether fans of Carly Simon's later work will feel the same. Honestly, it's downright bizarre to hear her in this earlier role. This isn't the bold, self-confident Carly Simon of "You're So Vain"; this is a nervous teenager dolled up in a fluffy pink sweater. That said, even the teenage Carly has a shockingly powerful voice, a baritone that often threatens to overpower her sister's comparatively fragile soprano. Complete with original liner notes by Carly Simon and plastered from head to toe with crisp photographs of the Simon Sisters singing in various locations (a high school gymnasium, a shrubbery), Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod does a wonderful job looking back at the versatile, gifted, and (from this vantage point) painfully young Simon Sisters.
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AllMusic Review by Margaret Reges