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Archive for the ‘Pete Seeger’ Category

In Memoriam: Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

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Pete Seeger

American music has many diverse strains – from the blues of the Mississippi Delta to the jazz of 52nd Street, and everything in between.  But it’s no exaggeration to state that Pete Seeger is American music.  Though the singer-songwriter-activist died on January 27 at the age of 94, his song – a song filled with honesty, integrity, compassion, conscience and bold simplicity – will continue to be sung by every man, woman and child who picks up an instrument with the belief that music can make the world a better, and more charitable, place in which to live.

Seeger has been frequently described as a folk singer, and he was, indeed, a singer for all folks.  If Pete’s only accomplishment was to have helped popularize and transform the spiritual “We Shall Overcome” into an anthem, his place in culture would have been ensured.  But Seeger’s influence on the entire rock and roll generation – a generation in which youth shared his belief that the establishment could be peacefully challenged – can’t be underestimated.  His composition “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” became a hit for the Kingston Trio and Johnny Rivers, and his “If I Had a Hammer” was indelibly recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary as well as Trini Lopez.  His adaptations of “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)” and “The Bells of Rhymney” were adopted by The Byrds, and “Guantanamera” was memorably sung by The Sandpipers.   Such was the power of Pete Seeger’s music to blur lines of genre, age and background.  He also memorably engaged audiences in sing-alongs of the music he loved, sharing the work of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs and so many others in his performances.  A survivor of the blacklist, Seeger never stopped taking the world’s stages, even throughout the numerous periods when controversy threatened to derail his career.  His spirit proved indomitable as he enthusiastically delivered messages of peace, civil rights and harmony with nature and each other.

To everything, there is a season.  Pete Seeger, the man, might be gone, but his music will continue to resonate for each person who passes on a favorite song – whether of protest or of celebration – to a friend, hoping that it may augur a brighter day to come.

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2014 at 11:06

Posted in News, Pete Seeger

The Legacy of Harry Nilsson, Andy Williams, Johnny Winter, Jerry Lee Lewis and More Anthologized On “Essential” Releases

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Essential NilssonToday, Legacy Recordings issues a number of titles from some of music’s greatest artists as part of the label’s ongoing Essential series of anthologies.  We’re taking a look at the collections from Harry Nilsson, Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pete Seeger, Mott the Hoople and Midnight Oil!  Plus: we have track listings for all titles!

A 2010 documentary posed the question, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?  Well, if you don’t already know the answer, The Essential Nilsson will go a long way in providing it for you.  Harry Nilsson was the songwriter’s songwriter, who enjoyed his two biggest hits with songs not written by him: Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” and Pete Ham and Tom Evans’ “Without You.”  He was the hard-partying pal of John Lennon’s capable of almost painfully tender moments in song like “Don’t Forget Me.”  He was the rocker who penned vaudeville tunes for The Monkees (“Daddy’s Song,” “Cuddly Toy”) and recorded an album of standards with legendary arranger Gordon Jenkins long before such albums were in vogue.  And he was the composer of effortless pop melodies like “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” which he provided with a four-letter punch line as if to torpedo its chances for the Top 40.  Harry Nilsson was a man of many contradictions, but they’re all represented in this 2-CD, 40-track collection of his RCA years (1967-1977) produced by Rob Santos and Andrew Sandoval.  (Sandoval also contributes the essay.)

By the numbers, The Essential Nilsson falls short of the standard set by 1995’s 49-song survey Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology.  But even those who own Personal Best should invest in Essential, both for Vic Anesini’s revelatory remastering and for a couple of unreleased tracks and a handful of mono single rarities.  You’ll savor Nilsson’s perky melody in the new, previously unissued remix of “Girlfriend” (better known as “Best Friend,” the theme to TV’s The Courtship of Eddie’s Father), and the touching simplicity of “Life Line” in a never-before-heard piano-and-voice take.  There’s plenty of Harry’s trademark humor on The Essential (the aforementioned “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” the novelty-esque hit “Coconut,” the offbeat television homage “Kojak Columbo”) as well as his tributes to pals Lennon and McCartney (“You Can’t Do That”) and Randy Newman (“Sail Away,” “Vine Street” and the sublime “Living Without You”).  That last-named Newman song boasts the lyric “It’s so hard, it’s so hard, living without you.”  For fans of intelligent, frequently stunningly-crafted pop, it’s been so hard living without Harry Nilsson.  The Essential Nilsson captures Harry –the angel-faced choirboy of his early albums and the bearded, vocally-battered figure of his later albums – in all his many colors.  Don’t miss it.

After the jump: plenty more on every title in this batch including full track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 30, 2013 at 10:05

“Chimes of Freedom” Flashing for Bob Dylan and Amnesty International

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Let’s face it, Bob Dylan tributes aren’t exactly uncommon. That said, one of the most ambitious albums of its kind is coming down the pike, set for January 24 release. Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan is a specially-priced 4-CD set containing 73 Dylan songs in renditions from an incredibly broad array of artists. Most of the tracks were recorded specifically for this project, but since a handful are previously unreleased tracks of an older vintage (and Dylan’s own 1964 released take of “Chimes of Freedom,” appropriately enough, closes out the set), we felt that coverage of this set was warranted here.

Chimes of Freedom is produced by Jeff Ayeroff and Julie Yannatta, who were also responsible for 2007’s Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. That 2-CD set brought together artists like U2, R.E.M., Green Day, The Flaming Lips and Jackson Browne on a selection of John Lennon songs. This set features a similarly eclectic roster of musicians and a comparably broad scope. Many favorites here at Second Disc HQ have made a contribution to Chimes of Freedom: the late Johnny Cash, plus the very-much-alive Patti Smith, Pete Townshend, Sting, Elvis Costello and Carly Simon, to name a few. Miley Cyrus is the youngest performer on the collection at 19, and the Hannah Montana star offers “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” The oldest act on the line-up is none other than Pete Seeger, who could be describing himself at the age of 92 with Dylan’s “Forever Young.” It’s difficult to single out notable artists on a compilartion featuring so many. Kris Kristofferson offers “The Mighty Quinn,” Diana Krall brings her sensual touch to “Simple Twist of Fate” and Eric Burdon of the Animals tackles “Gotta Serve Somebody.” The white-hot Adele is represented by a radio performance of “Make You Feel My Love.” Ke$ha gets into the act with “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and the frequent Philip Glass collaborators The Kronos Quartet performs the same song. Glee heartthrob Darren Criss does the honors for “New Morning.” Seal and Jeff Beck are an unlikely pair on “Like a Rolling Stone,” and bluesman Taj Mahal plays “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream.” Even Dylan’s old flame Joan Baez is here, with a live performance of “Seven Curses.”

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 16, 2011 at 10:16

A Wounded Bird Bonanza (EVEN MORE ADDED 7/30)

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Wounded Bird Records has just opened the floodgates and got a couple of interesting obscurities released or reissued on CD. There’s a couple of notable names here, and at least one that looks to have bonus tracks. Hit the jump to see them all.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 30, 2010 at 12:50