While everyone doesn't agree on what patriotism means, even left-leaning folksingers celebrate the promises of America. Promises, however, sometimes fall short. So if singers like Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, and Cisco Houston point out America's shortcomings in protest songs, they don't consider themselves unpatriotic: they're only reminding Americans of their original principals. Let Freedom Sing travels back to the early-to-mid '60s, the golden age of the protest song, for the majority of its material. Since Vanguard signed so many top folk acts during the time, the major voices from the era are represented here. There's a live take of Dylan singing "Playboys and Playgirls" with Pete Seeger and a live, acapella version of Baez singing "Oh Freedom." Patrick Sky and Buffy Sainte-Marie weigh in on Native-American rights on the "Ballad of Ira Hayes" and "Now That the Buffalo's Gone" respectively. While most of this collection is rather somber, Mimi & Richard Farina's "House Un-American Blues Activity Dream" and the Chad Mitchell Trio's "The John Birch Society" offer a slight reprieve. Two Woody Guthrie classics get overhauled by Houston ("Deportee") and Ramblin' Jack Elliott ("1913 Massacre"), while the Weavers sing the rousing "Which Side Are You On?" This is an excellent collection that entertains while reminding Americans that there are many types of patriotism.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.