Pete Seeger

Wimoweh (And Other Songs of Freedom and Protest)

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In 1961, Pete Seeger, long the flagship artist of the tiny independent Folkways Records label, signed to the major label Columbia Records. This did not, as it turned out, mean that he actually left Folkways, which retained the right to issue not only previously unreleased recordings dating from before the Columbia deal, but also new recordings if Columbia didn't deem them sufficiently commercial to constitute competition. Nevertheless, Moses Asch, head of Folkways, couldn't have been very pleased at the development, and when Columbia issued its first Seeger album, a live LP called Story Songs in August 1961, Folkways countered the same month with its own live album, Sing Out with Pete!, which turned out to be a cobbled-together set of tracks that had been left off earlier Seeger live collections. In 1968, Folkways was in a flurry of releasing Seeger compilations (the others were Pete Seeger Sings Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger Sings Leadbelly, and Where Have All the Flowers Gone?), and this one takes eight of the 12 tracks from the Sing Out with Pete! album, re-sequences them, and adds a few other stray tracks ("Wasn't That a Time," "What a Friend We Have in Congress," and "Hymn to Nations"). The recordings also seem to have been re-edited and remixed, with some extra waves of applause overdubbed. Although it contains a couple of Seeger's greatest hits, "Wimoweh" and "If I Had a Hammer (Hammer Song)," as well as some interesting performances of spirituals, with such collaborators as Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim, and Willie Dixon thrown in, the album is still a hodgepodge. In fact, it's even more of a hodgepodge than the original version was seven years previously.

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