Chad Mitchell Trio

At the Bitter End

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This album shows the Chad Mitchell Trio at their best -- an informal, irreverent, totally entertaining concert recorded at Greenwich Village's Bitter End on March 19, 1962. Discarding their suits from earlier album covers, the trio now performed in comfortable sweaters along with their accompanists, future Byrd Jim McGuinn, former Weaver Fred Hellerman and bassist Bill Lee. The audience was more intimate as well, the coffeehouse audience responding more reverently than the raucous, huge crowd on the Mighty Day on Campus album. The trio's choice of material is solid, mixing traditional folk songs arranged by Milt Okun with more contemporary songs written by the likes of Bob Gibson ("You Can Tell the World," "Blues Around My Head") and Tom Paxton ("Come Along Home"). The album starts off with a bang with the ingeniusly wicked "The John Birch Society" ("if Mommy is a Commie, then you've gotta turn her in"). Woody Guthrie's "Great Historical Bum" is preceded by some humorous bragging by the group members about their respective hometowns. The trio also performs the humorous one-hundred-year-old ballad, "The Unfortunate Man," which was brought out of obscurity by folklorist J. Barre Toelken and Arkansas country singer Jimmie Driftwood. The subject deals with a man marrying for looks only to discover that beauty is not even skin deep. When the audience started singing along with Ed McCurdy's pacifist anthem, "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream," it resulted in one of the most moving moments of the urban folk revival. The song so impressed Simon and Garfunkel that they recorded it on their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM several years later. Despite an average age of 22, Mitchell, Joe Frazier, and Mike Kobluk show tremendous poise and folk sensibilities on this marvelous album.

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