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Broadsides: Songs and Ballads

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Review

Since Pete Seeger began recording for the major-label Columbia Records in 1961, he has not stopped recording for tiny Folkways Records, and by the evidence of albums like this, it's the smaller company that is reaping more of the benefits of the singer's dual affiliation. Thus far, Seeger has only released live albums on Columbia, while Broadsides is a studio recording that is a follow-up to 1963's Broadside Ballads, Vol. 2 (itself the successor to the various-artists collection Broadside Ballads, on which Seeger also appeared), again featuring recordings of recently written, topical folk songs first published in the magazine Broadsides. Spending more time with his guitar than his banjo for once, Seeger ranges across political topics, singing in opposition to war ("The Dove," "Flowers of Peace"), nuclear proliferation (the song parody "Mack the Bomb," sung to the tune of "Mack the Knife"), and pollution ("Coyoté, My Little Brother"). There are also more philosophical songs and even a sort of last will and testament from a songwriter only in his mid-forties ("To My Old Brown Earth"). But Columbia may be on to something in its exclusive use of concert material. Seeger is a much more subdued performer alone in a recording studio, and these tracks lack the enthusiasm he brings to his concerts, as well as the crowd reactions he incites. The humorous song about aging "Get Up and Go" would benefit from an audience that no doubt would laugh and cheer its sentiments, and Columbia has already demonstrated that "We Shall Overcome," sung by Seeger in isolation here, works a lot better as a singalong. Still, this is an album of strong material the bigger company would do well to emulate, if it can summon the political will, that is. ~ William Ruhlmann
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 The Dove Pete Seeger 7:20
  3. 2 Flowers of Peace Pete Seeger 3:14
  4. 3 Mack the Bomb Pete Seeger 2:36
  5. 4 From Way Up Here Pete Seeger 2:8
  6. 5 Tomorrow's Children Pete Seeger 1:53
  7. 6 Get Up and Go Pete Seeger 2:32
  8. 7 The New York J-D Blues Pete Seeger 5:56
  9. 8 Coyoté, My Little Brother Pete Seeger 1:36
  10. 9 We Shall Overcome Pete Seeger 4:39
  11. 10 To My Old Brown Earth Pete Seeger 1:20

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