After decades of being bootlegged and traded surreptitiously between hardcore enthusiasts, the final concert featuring the Dave Guard (guitar/vocals) lineup of the Kingston Trio has been issued by the Collectors' Choice Music subsidiary RichKat Records. Although the combo would ultimately continue for several more years with co-founders Nick Reynolds (banjo/conga/vocals) and Bob Shane (guitar/vocals) joined by Guard's replacement John Stewart (guitar/vocals), many purists consider the personnel on this disc to be the only "genuine article". The Trio's stage show -- captured here at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on April 21, 1961 -- was a mixture of music and humor. And while an overt emphasis is placed upon the former, hearing the (presumably) unedited between-song banter gives modern listeners an insight into their personalities. With comments ranging from political to, at times simply silly, evidence of the Kingston Trio's obviously heartfelt camaraderie is weaved throughout the equally appealing live set. To some, a cursory glance at the tunes performed during the concert might reveal more in terms of songs not played. Their early classic and career-defining numbers "Tom Dooley," "Tijuana Jail," "Scotch & Soda," "All My Trials," "Scarlet Ribbons," and "M.T.A." are MIA. In their stead are deeper album sides and newer material from the yet-to-be-released last studio effort, aptly titled Goin' Places (1961). That isn't to suggest that there aren't plenty of favorites from throughout their brief but prolific three year (1958-1961) run. The audio quality fluctuates a bit during the high-energy update of Bill Monroe's "Run Molly, Run," settling down just in time for the spirited classic "Bad Man's Blunder," following a pair of newer selections from Make Way (1961) -- a gentle and earnest interpretation of "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies" and the darker tale of the working man "Bonny Hielan' Laddie." The Trio return to their back catalog for an outstanding spin of the fun Caribbean flavored "Zombie Jamboree," and their harmonies have rarely sounded as unified or engaging as on the humbling "Colorado Trail." Pat Boone -- who was at the time host of a TV variety program -- is "dared" to join the guys on-stage for a rousing "You're Gonna Miss Me," which is an updated telling of the story of "Frankie & Johnny" before diving back into their songbook, much to the delight of their audience, with "The Merry Minuet," the deep cut "Coplas," and two newer melodies -- "Guardo el Lobo" and the precursor to folk-rock on the upbeat "You Don't Knock." The proceedings conclude in a fitting style with a short but intense take on the traditional "When the Saints Go Marching In." The CD also includes a "bonus video" -- in the mpeg format -- of the Trio on Pat Boone's April 1961 TV special singing "You're Gonna Miss Me" live in front of Boone's studio audience.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
feat: Pat Boone
feat: Pat Boone