The New Christy Minstrels

The New Christy Minstrels in Person

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This is the second long-player by the New Christy Minstrels and features another unique incarnation of the extended acoustic folk band. Although the album title indeed intimates an actual concert recording, The New Christy Minstrels in Person (1962) was documented in an oversized orchestral studio with invited guests and corporate well-wishers in attendance. In the time between the first NCM long-player, Presenting: The New Christy Minstrels (in April of 1962), and the creation of this disc less than four months later, the band continued its perpetual redefinition with a flurry of personnel changes that included the loss of Jerry Yester's trio, the Inn Group, as well as two of the earliest members, Billy Cudmore and Terry Wadsworth. Ingratiated into those five positions were Barry McGuire (guitar/vocals), Barry Kane (guitar/vocals), Peggy Connelly (vocals) -- who had appeared as a regular on the groundbreaking Ernie Kovacs Show -- Larry Ramos (ukulele/banjo/guitar/vocals), and Clarence Treat (guitar/vocals). As the earlier configurations had done, the influx of talent also brought with it new material. The New Christy Minstrels in Person recaptures much of the charm of a concurrent NCM stage show. The same wholesome charisma that the ensemble exudes on this release likewise had a weekly prime-time network outlet via The Andy Williams Show variety program. Concurrent with this release, in the fall of 1962 the NCM became semi-regulars on that highly rated show during its debut season. Randy Sparks (guitar/vocals/arranging) is firmly at the helm of the group, as his original performances are among his strongest contributions to the NCM thus far. "(The Story Of The) Preacher and the Bear," "Fire" (aka "Fire Down Below"), and the tongue-and-cheek ballad of the "Dying Convict" are all enduring additions to the band's already substantial songbook of originals and traditional covers. Sparks' theatrical style commences the proceedings with the upbeat how-the-west-was-won love song "Denver." The Art Podell (guitar/vocal) original "You Know My Name" stands out as an NCM side that was somewhat overshadowed by Sparks' equally inspired contributions. Podell's rapid-fire wit adds to the politically incorrect "Bits and Pieces" montage, which highlights many of the individual talents within the combo. He likewise incorporates a spoof of a traditional blues number which Leadbelly had first issued as "Gallows Pole." This segment also includes a demented rendition of "Tip Toe Through the Tulips With Me" -- five years before Tiny Tim would turn in his definitive remake. All said, the album is a great deal of fun -- perhaps even more so for the jaded modern consumer. [RoviLink="MN"]

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