Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Hear Trumpets Blow - The Tokens

I Hear Trumpets Blow
The Tokens 
B. T. Puppy Records  B.T.P/S 1000

I was a big fan of the Tokens' hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" when I was a kid but I never really thought much about the group until I picked up the CD reissue of their lost album, "Intercourse" (recorded in 1968 with limited release in 1972) which astonished me with its sophistication and originality.  After that I started exploring their catalog with mostly happy results.  This was their third album and their first for their own record company, B. T. Puppy (I believe the B. T. stands for Bright Tunes.)  It sounds more like the doo-wop group that released "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" than the group that made "Intercourse."  The record came out in 1966 but it sounds older, more like the early 1960s, because the album was largely compiled from earlier singles.  The album features several rock and roll oldies that are mostly faithful to the originals including the Cadillacs' "Speedo," the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Suzy [sic]," the Browns' "The Three Bells" and Gene Pitney's 1961 hit "Every Breath I Take."  They also tackle "Barbara Ann" but their version is obviously modeled after the Beach Boys cover and not the Regents' version, they even duplicate the party noises on the Beach Boys version and mention Brian Wilson.  All the covers are competent but none of them will make you forget the originals.  Even the groups' own songs have a retro feel to them.  "Swing" was a 1964 single for the group and it has a Latin feel to it, almost like a mambo.  The moody Goffin-King composition, "He's In Town" was also a 1964 single.  It is one of my favorite songs on the album with its soaring vocal and lovely vocal harmonies, but it definitely belongs to a different era.  The dramatic 1965 single "Sylvie Sleepin'" features tribal drumming that calls to mind "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and a tune reminiscent of Brian Hyland's "Sealed With a Kiss."  Even the self-penned hit single on the album, "I Hear Trumpets Blow" (which reached #30 on the Billboard chart in 1966) has a doo-wop style arrangement layered over a sunshine pop song.  It is a fun song, very catchy and appealing, it sticks in your head like a good top 40 single should.  "Don't Cry, Sing Along With The Music" sounds more like mid-1960s music mixing the driving bass and pronounced beat of Motown and the vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys.  "Saloogy" is another group composition and a propulsive pop-rock song.  I had trouble figuring out what the song was about since I had never heard of the game "saloogy" which the singer uses to describe his love life.  I looked it up and learned it was a New York City children's game akin to keep-away, ouch.  The most modern sounding song is Al Kooper and Irwin Levine's "The Water Is Over My Head" which has a folk-rock flavor to it.  It is a terrific song with clever, evocative lyrics.  This is a nice album for fans of vocal harmonies and pop craftsmanship.  It isn't ground-breaking or profound, but it is likely to put a smile on your face.  Recommended for fans of the Four Seasons who wish they sounded more like the Beach Boys.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Beatles Christmas Album/The Complete Christmas Collection 1963 to 1969 - The Beatles

The Beatles Christmas Album
The Beatles
Apple SBC 100

The Complete Christmas Collection 1963 to 1969
The Beatles
Trade Mark of Quality  BCC 104

I was record shopping up in Portland over the holidays and I noticed a new bootleg of the Beatles Christmas album in the bins.  It looks like the original except that it is tinted green instead of blue and it is pressed on green vinyl.  I was tempted to buy it, but I wasn’t all that happy about the green tint and besides I already have two bootlegs of it.  I wish the Beatles would just do a legitimate reissue of it.  It has been so extensively bootlegged I don’t see why they don’t reissue it.  Admittedly it is not great, but there is more embarrassing stuff on the “Anthology” comps.  When I first got into record collecting I used to see the counterfeit copies of it in Berkeley record stores although they looked so convincing that I thought they were legitimate ones.  They had hefty price tags and I was poor so I didn’t buy them and eventually they disappeared and were replaced by obvious bootlegs like the one above.  That was my first one, it has typically crappy artwork and is an inferior pressing although not bad by bootleg standards.  I think mine is actually a bootleg of the TMOQ bootleg since the insert is missing the TMOQ logo that was on the original otherwise identical insert, but it does have the same matrix number.  I bought the counterfeit one at Boo Boo Records in San Luis Obispo (well worth checking out if you find yourself in the area.)  At first I thought it was real since the cover is pretty nice, it just has slightly more contrast than originals.  Looking at the vinyl though, I knew it was a fake.  The labels were off-center and slightly blurry, the vinyl was dimpled and the run-off groove lacked the pressing information.  It was a little worn, but I bought it anyway because it was cheap and I’ve always regretted not buying it back in Berkeley when I had the chance.  I’m never going to pay what an original costs, so it will do.  The album basically mirrors the history of the Beatles as a band.  It starts out with the zany Fabs, talking Liverpudlian slang and trying to be funny and charming, then it gets psychedelic and obscure, then after the “White Album” the Beatles do their bits separately no longer interacting as a group and John brings in Yoko, ouch.  The 1963 segment is my favorite one.  The Beatles butcher "Good King Wenceslas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", John indulges in funny word play and the band seems greatly pleased ("dead chuffed") with all their success and express affection towards their fans.  It is endearing and charming.  1964's entry is fairly similar.  The group again expresses affection towards the fans and there is a lot of humor.  The 1965 segment is zanier, less heartfelt but still very appealing.  John does a lot of weird voices and shows off his Scottish accent.  The segment has a "Goon Show" and "Monty Python" flavor.  The Beatles impersonate Barry McGuire singing "Eve of Destruction" and there are some other silly songs, including a sloppy version of "Yesterday" where "yesterday" is replaced with "Christmas day."  The segment is lots of fun.  1966 begins with the music hall style song "Everywhere It's Christmas" leading into more funny skits.  They are more funny-weird than funny ha-ha.  There is no longer any direct address to the fans, it is all performance.  It is fascinating to hear the Beatles openly acting, their performances are more elaborate here than in any of their films.  1967 opens with "Christmas Time Is Here Again" which is in the vein of the psychedelic music they recorded for "Sgt. Pepper" and "Magical Mystery Tour."  The skits are even weirder than the ones from the previous year, they border on surrealism and again remind me of "Monty Python" although not as funny.  John's Scottish accent makes a welcome reappearance as well.  1968 is fragmented.  The Beatles contribute separate segments for the first time.  Paul does a Christmas song that sounds like an outtake from the "White Album."  John does a dialogue about his relationship with Yoko.  George makes a speech thanking the fans, but it is so exaggerated that I suspect sarcasm.  He brings out the Beatles long time employee Mal Evans to wish "Merry Christmas children everywhere."  Ringo does a dialogue with himself that shows off his acting skills.  Then John rattles off some nonsensical wordplay which is followed by George returning to introduce Tiny Tim who performs "Nowhere Man" in his inimitable manner, ugh!  1969 is even worse though, it depresses me.  Perceptive fans who listened to this record must have realized the end was near.  John chats with Yoko about food and walls.  George greets the fans briefly to wish them a merry Christmas.  Like the previous year, Paul improvises a little Christmas song and briefly wishes the fans a happy Christmas.  It is then the return of the John and Yoko show as they discuss the upcoming new decade and improvise some Christmas music interrupted by a segment of Ringo plugging "The Magic Christian" movie and then they return to discuss John's Christmas list.  The segment ends with Ringo laughing and I imagine the fans scratching their heads wondering what's so funny.  If you are a Beatles fan this is a fascinating album, but I imagine non-fans would find it tedious.  I like to pull it out at Christmas and give it a spin, but otherwise I rarely play it.  Recommended to fans of the Beatles' movies.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Moanin' In The Moonlight - Howlin' Wolf

Moanin' In The Moonlight
Howlin' Wolf
Chess  CH-9195

This is a 1986 re-issue of the album originally released by Chess as LP 1434.  It was part of a bunch of Chess albums reissued by MCA in the 1980s with the original front cover art but new back covers although they generally reprint the original liner notes.  I chose this album for today's post to honor the blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin who died on December 4th of last year.  Sumlin did have a solo career but he is most famous for his work with the great Howlin' Wolf.  Like a lot of white kids of my generation I learned about Howlin' Wolf second hand via the interpretations of his work by British bands in the 1960s which is a sorry commentary on the undervaluing of African-American culture in this country for so long.  In my case it was the Yardbirds and their classic cover of "Smokestack Lightnin'" which I found quite thrilling when I heard it as a teenager.  By then the man who wrote it, Chester Burnett (aka Howlin' Wolf) was already dead.  This was his first album, but it is basically a compilation album of his singles from the 1950s.  Sumlin plays guitar on all but three of the twelve tracks.  The album begins with the classic single from 1951 "Moanin' At Midnight" b/w "How Many More Years" which is among Howlin' Wolf's most celebrated recordings.  Both sides were hit singles on the R&B charts and deservedly so, the blues don't get any grittier or more exciting than this.  Ike Turner plays piano on the latter cut.  I think the Wolf's 1956 recording of "Smokestack Lightnin'" is a little less exciting than the Yardbirds' cover, but there is no doubt that the Wolf's powerful vocal blows Keith Relf away.  This is my favorite song on the album and it was also a hit single.  "Baby How Long" dates from 1954 and features some dynamic piano from Otis Spann.  It is a swinging number that really gets me going.  "No Place To Go" is also from 1954 and it ought to be familiar to Led Zeppelin fans since they "borrowed" it for their song "How Many More Times" on their debut album.  The Wolf's vocal is full of desperation as he bemoans his woman's treachery and his unhappy fate.  It is a very powerful song with an insistent pounding riff that makes it utterly unforgettable.  "All Night Boogie" from 1953 is a smoking number with frenetic harmonica playing by the Wolf and fast paced guitar lines from Sumlin and Jody Williams.  It rocks as hard as any song I've ever heard from this period.  Side two opens with "Evil" which was released on the flip side of "Baby How Long" in 1954.  It was originally called "Evil Is Goin' On" on the single.  It features more terrific piano work from Spann and a passionate vocal from the Wolf.  "I'm Leavin' You" is listed as a 1959 recording on the album, but I've seen the single listed as a 1958 release in many Howlin' Wolf discographies.  Whenever it came out, it is another excellent song with more woman trouble in the lyrics and some biting guitar work from Sumlin and L. D. McGhee.  1958's "Moanin' For My Baby" has a hypnotic guitar riff courtesy of Sumlin and Jody Williams and a vocal from the Wolf that effortlessly soars when he turns up the heat.  "I Asked For Water" from 1956 features some of the most evocative lyrics on the album as the Wolf describes his lover's ill-treatment of him.  "Forty Four" was released in 1954.  It has a simple riff with martial drumming that drives it along.  The album concludes with 1957's "Somebody In My Home."  It is a moody, slow blues with another powerful vocal from the Wolf in which he sings of his recurrent theme of an unfaithful lover.  Howlin' Wolf had one of the most remarkable voices in pop music.  He combined the grace and passion of Muddy Waters with the range and the lupine roar of Captain Beefheart without ever sounding gimmicky or contrived.  His music has so much feeling and power, it gives me goosebumps.  I wish I could have seen him live, his shows must have been amazing.  This is a flawless record, it basically functions as a best-of for his work in the 1950s.  I highly recommend it, this is classic stuff, even if you don't like the blues very much, this transcends its genre.  Recommended for Yardbirds fans who wish Keith Relf had a stronger voice.                  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Celebrations for a Grey Day - Mimi and Richard Fariña

Celebrations for a Grey Day
Mimi and Richard Fariña
Vanguard  VRS-9174

I finished reading David Hajdu's "Positively 4th Street."  Bob Dylan and Joan Baez come off rather poorly in it, particularly in comparison to the Fariñas.  Dylan is depicted as a selfish and manipulative jerk and Baez seems like a dull, judgmental narcissist.  Joan's sister, Mimi, is clearly Hajdu's favorite person in the book and his portrait of Richard is fascinating, a mixture of charm, ambition and artistic drive.  I consider Dylan a genius, but I never would want to hang out with him, but Richard Fariña seems to have been the life of the party for most of his brief lifetime.  I became interested in the Fariñas back when I was obsessed with folk-rock.  They explored it a little on their two albums.  This is their debut album.  Most people prefer the second one, "Reflections in a Crystal Wind," since it has fewer instrumentals and more of a folk-rock sound.  I prefer this one though because it has my two favorite Fariña songs, "Pack Up Your Sorrows" and "Reno Nevada."  "Pack Up Your Sorrows" is co-credited to the third Baez sister, Pauline, although according to Hajdu she did little more than contribute the title phrase which was a favorite saying of hers.  As with most of the vocal songs on the album, the lead is sung by Richard who plays dulcimer with Mimi playing guitar and singing harmony.  It is a classic folk song with a lively melody that sticks in your head and verses about the futility of running from ones troubles alternating with a chorus in which the singer offers to take your sorrows from you.  It is one of the few Fariña songs that you can imagine an old school folkie like Pete Seeger singing.  "Reno Nevada" is one of the two folk-rock songs on the album.  It features an electric guitar, bass and piano in addition to the Fariñas' acoustic guitar and dulcimer.  Fariña uses the metaphor of gambling in philosophical lyrics about life choices and taking chances.  The song was a key song in the early repertoire of Fairport Convention and there are some excellent performances of it on various archival Fairport releases, but I really like the original as well, particularly when Mimi is wailing away in the background.  Of the remaining eleven songs on the album, seven are instrumentals which seems odd considering that Richard was a poet and a professional writer before he took up music.  He certainly had no trouble coming up with words so my guess is that he wanted to show off his newly acquired instrumental prowess and with good reason.  I've never heard anyone play the dulcimer like him.  When I think of the dulcimer, I picture female country singers delicately strumming, but Richard aggressively attacks his instrument like a rock star.  Mimi is a fine acoustic guitar player and they show a lot of chemistry in their instrumental duets.  My favorite instrumental is "V." which is named after the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name (Pynchon and Fariña were close friends.)  It has a raga-like Eastern flavor and features some frenetic dulcimer playing from Richard supported by Bruce Langhorne on tambourine.  Of the remaining instrumentals I like the pretty "Dog Blue" which was arranged by Mimi and "Tommy Makem's Fantasy" which is basically the Irish tune "Little Beggarman" which appeared in vocal form on my favorite Ian and Sylvia album "Northern Journey."  The four remaining songs with vocals are all interesting.  "Michael, Andrew and James" is about the three civil rights activists, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964.  It is not as heavy-handed as many protest songs of that era and has a poetic quality to it.  Musically it is a bit of a folky drone with the dulcimer again giving it a raga flavor.  "One-Way Ticket" is the other folk-rock song on the album.  It features the same instrumentalists as "Reno Nevada" and is similar to the folk-rock songs on Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home" which was released a few weeks prior to this album.  It is a fast-paced blues, humorously ragging on California for various reasons.  There is a nice guitar solo from Bruce Langhorne.  "Another Country" benefits from the plaintive and sensitive quality of Richard's voice as he describes traveling through Europe and North Africa while experiencing a strained love affair.  Musically it is a conventional folk song with a pretty guitar riff.  "The Falcon" is adapted from the traditional folk song "The Cuckoo."  The lyrics have been changed to make the song a graceful statement against war and the military.  In his liner notes Richard states that the song is a response to members of the John Birch Society practicing war games at Point Lobos.  The songs with vocals are so good that it makes me regret there are not more of them on this record.  It is still a fine album though, consistently engaging and inspired.  When I play it, I find myself wishing that Richard Fariña had not liked motorcycles so much.  He loved life with such zest and made such enjoyable music, Mimi Fariña's tragic loss was also a loss to anyone who appreciates intelligence in music.  Recommended to Ian and Sylvia fans.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cherry Tree - The National

Cherry Tree
The National
Brassland  Hwy 008

I saw the National play the Hollywood Bowl as part of the "High Violet" tour and they blew me away.  I was really surprised by how exciting their performance was, I love their albums but they generally seem so somber and melancholy.  Their live show was electrifying, Matt Berninger is such a dynamic performer, he actually crowd surfed, no easy feat at the Bowl where the pit is full of rich guys sitting at tables sipping wine and munching on chicken.  Near the end of the set Berninger picked up the onstage clock that tells the performers how much time they have left before the Bowl curfew and tossed it off the stage.  I think he would have played all night if they would have let him.  This was their third album, more of a mini-album really since it clocks in at just under 30 minutes.  It contains six new songs plus a live version of "Murder Me Rachael" from their second album.  It begins with "Wasp's Nest" which describes a woman the narrator desires.  I don't know how many women would be flattered to be called a wasp's nest, but the song is pretty romantic.  The woman sounds like trouble but apparently she is worth the risk.  I love the verse "you're all humming live wires under your killing clothes," such an evocative line.  The song features a seductive vocal from Berninger that utilizes his deep voice to great effect and it is full of lovely chiming guitar sounds and curiously the steady ringing of bells suggestive of a sleigh ride.  The pace picks up with "All The Wine" which is so good that the group stuck it on their next album, "Alligator" as well.  It is a wine-fueled statement of omnipotence and exuberance driven by riffing guitars and a rocking beat.  "All Dolled-Up In Straps" couldn't be more different.  It is a creepy statement of jealousy and paranoia with a moody melody featuring the melancholy drone of strings and stately piano chords.  "Cherry Tree" is in a similar vein as the strings and piano again take charge of the musical color and Berninger evokes another tormented narrator, although in this case the subject of the song is desperately trying to avoid hearing the truth about his deteriorating relationship.  It is a stunning song, it creates the tension and power that the National are so good at provoking with their best songs.  "About Today" could be a sequel to "Cherry Tree."  In this song the narrator has realized that his relationship is ending and is conveying his sense of helplessness about being powerless to stop it.  It is a sad, quiet song with Berninger murmuring the words accompanied by a gorgeous string arrangement.  Aside from maybe Belle and Sebastian I can't think of another rock group that utilizes strings as well as the National do.  The record changes direction again with a ferocious live version of "Murder Me Rachael" from a French broadcast.  If I had bought this record prior to seeing the National at the Bowl I would have had some idea of the maniac within Berninger that is unleashed in concerts.  This is the hardest rocking song on the album but thematically this expression of jealous rage and insecurity is totally consistent with the other dysfunctional relationships described on the record.  The album ends with "Reasonable Man (I Don't Mind) which was written by Padma Newsome who often plays with the band on tours and who does their string arrangements and orchestrations.  Newsome and Berninger duet on the song which is a quiet acoustic number with a pair of delicate string solos.  It is the flipside of all these songs about the irrationality of love, in this case the narrator is too cautious and rational to acquire and retain the object of his affection.  Compared to the greatness of "Alligator," "Boxer" and "High Violet" this record is kind of minor in the National's oeuvre, but I find that I play it quite a bit.  All the songs are worthwhile and a couple of them rank among the band's best songs so if you are a fan you definitely should have this and it sounds great on vinyl.  Recommended to high-strung Leonard Cohen fans.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Get It While You Can - Howard Tate

Get It While You Can
Howard Tate
Verve V-5022

I'm so far behind on my posts.  I went away for the holidays and then got sick and it has just been tough finding time to work on this between job and family obligations.  However I don't want to miss the opportunity to acknowledge the passing of Howard Tate on December 2nd of last year.  Tate had a pretty rough life, he quit music in the 1970s apparently because he was tired of getting ripped off by the music industry.  Then his daughter died, his marriage broke up and he ended up addicted to drugs.  Tate found God and put his life and career back on track in the past decade, a truly inspiring story of perseverance and redemption.  I've heard some of his music from this period and it remains impressive - check out his titanic vocal on "I Learned It All The Hard Way" on "Howard Tate Live," the man could still bring it big time.  "Get It While You Can" was his first album and it is an excellent one although it is somewhat skimpy with only ten total tracks.  Tate was born in Macon, Georgia where Little Richard was born and Otis Redding was raised, there must be something in the water down there that makes a man sing so full of vitality and passion.  Tate reminds me a lot of Redding actually in his style and tone, and for me there is no higher compliment than that.  Tate moved to Philadelphia as a child and according to the liner notes he was working there as a cab driver when producer Jerry Ragovoy discovered him after hearing his amazing voice on a demo record.  However I read an interview with Ragovoy where he denied this story and in any case Tate had been involved in music as a member of vocal groups well before he started his solo career.  In addition to producing the album, Ragovoy also arranged much of it and wrote or co-wrote many of the songs.  This record begins with his first hit single "Ain't Nobody Home" from 1966.  LIke most of the album it is arranged in the mold of the Atlantic/Stax style soul of the mid-1960s with a wonderful vocal from Tate that shows his versatility and range.  That is nothing though compared to his stupendous performance on "Part-Time Love" which ought to be much better known.  It is a landmark in 1960s soul, fully the equal of the best work of Redding or Wilson Pickett.  "Glad I Knew Better" is more poppy sounding but with another passionate vocal from Tate, it reminds me of the Young Rascals particularly with its dynamic organ line.  "How Blue Can You Get" is best known in B.B. King's classic version, but Tate's version is very strong as well.  I love Janis Joplin, who did a famous version of "Get It While You Can," but for me Tate's performance is the definitive one.  His gospel inspired vocal really sends me.   "Baby, I Love You" was a modest hit for Tate on the R&B chart in 1967.  It is an uptempo, swinging song with an urgent vocal from Tate.  "I Learned It All The Hard Way" is a slow, smoldering song that Tate pours his heart out into.  Tate takes on Joe Williams and B.B. King with "Everyday I Have The Blues" and I don't think he wins, but when he hits the high notes he comes pretty close.  "How Come My Bull Dog Don't Bark" is a pedestrian song that resembles a lot like other soul songs from the period, although Tate still sings the song like he really means it.  The album ends with "Look At Granny Run Run" which was another hit single for Tate.  It sounds a lot like Wilson Pickett.  It is a fun song but far from my favorite.  I knew very little about this record when I picked it up many years ago, I bought it mostly because I admire Ragovoy's work and I wanted to hear the original version of "Get It While You Can" (plus I really dug Tate's hair in the cover photo!)  When I played it, I was astonished.  I couldn't believe that I had never heard of such a talented singer.  If you have any interest in 1960s soul you ought to check it out.  It has been reissued on CD with loads of bonus tracks.  Recommended for fans of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Joan Baez In Concert Part 1 - Joan Baez

Joan Baez In Concert Part 1
Joan Baez
Vanguard VSD-2122

Joan Baez's third album.  Even though it is a live album it does not contain any songs from her first two albums.  Curiously Vanguard replaced the original cover with the cover photo from "Joan Baez in Concert Part 2" at some point.  I like the original cover better.  I've been reading David Hajdu's book "Positively 4th Street" which is about Baez, Bob Dylan, Richard Fariña and Mimi Fariña.  It is an interesting read and it got me wondering about Baez's enormous popularity during the folk boom which I've never really understood.  Growing up in the Bay Area I knew Baez more as a political activist than as a singer.  I saw her once at a rally at Sproul Plaza when I was at Berkeley although I can't remember if she sang or even what the rally was about, probably anti-draft registration or anti-apartheid.  Musically I only knew her for her hit cover of the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" which I didn't like much as well as her songs on the Woodstock soundtrack which I didn't really like much either.  Baez's pure soprano voice bothered me, it reminded of my grandmother singing hymns in church.  I probably would have never bought any of her records were it not for my interest in Fairport Convention.  That great band triggered my interest in English folk music, particularly the Child Ballads which were a big part of Baez's early repertoire prior to hooking up with Dylan.  This was the first Baez album I bought and I bought it because it had a version of "Matty Groves" which of course was one of Fairport's most famous songs.  It is one of three Child Ballads on this record, the other two are "Geordie" and the haunting "House Carpenter" and they are my favorite cuts on the record.  She sings the songs beautifully and they benefit from her rich voice.  I prefer the Fairport version of "Matty Groves" which rocks and has a passionate vocal from Sandy Denny.  Baez's version is lovely but pales in comparison even though it is her most stirring performance on the album.  "House Carpenter" though really sends me, I listened to it over and over when I got this record and I still really like it.  None of the other songs interest me as much, but there are a few that I appreciate.  "What Have They Done to the Rain" by Malvina Reynolds was Baez's first protest song and it is more subtle than most songs of that type.  I like her subdued version of "Gospel Ship" which she got from the Carter Family and I enjoy the moonshining ballad "Copper Kettle" by Albert Frank Beddoe.  The other songs don't appeal to me much.  "Lady Mary" is pretty but dull and "Black Is the Color" too genteel for my taste.  She opens the album with Anne Bredon's "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" although it is listed as a traditional song.  Her version sounds stilted compared to the superior versions by Quicksilver Messenger Service and Led Zeppelin.  I find her beautiful vocal on Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd" to be counter-productive, it does not suit the words or spirit of the song at all.  Her ventures into world music with "Danger Waters" and "Ate Amanha" are lively but unconvincing.  "Kumbaya" makes me cringe, it brings back unwanted childhood memories of folk masses in church and hippie camp counselors and teachers with acoustic guitars in grade school.  I played this album to try and figure out why Baez was so popular in her time and it is still a mystery to me.  I guess she was a transitional figure bridging the sappy pop music of the 1950s and the earthiness of the folk tradition.  I prefer my folk music rougher and more immediate, but I appreciate Baez's integrity.  Recommended to people who prefer Judy Collins over Judy Henske.