Almanac Singers

Their Complete General Recordings

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The 14 surviving songs from the group's 1941 session for General Records, which could sound like a set of Weavers demos but for the absence of any female voice. The repertory is a mix of songs about the land and the sea, mixed with some political barbs ("The Dodger Song"), all displaying harmonies that are surprisingly well-sung and preserved, given the haste with which they were sung (in single takes) and the age of the recordings (55 years). "Hard, Ain't It Hard" is necessarily of interest as a number that later became a signature tune for the Weavers, and a version of "House of the Rising Sun" is another highlight, but there isn't a bad song here. Seeger (who originally participated on these sessions as "Pete Bowers"), Hawes, Lampell, and Guthrie are joined by sometime Almanac Pete Hawes on vocals and guitar, although the dominant instrument throughout is Seeger's banjo and, occasionally, Guthrie's harmonica. The liner notes are the only flaw, presenting an oversimplified history of the Almanacs that is a bit vague on details.

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