|The Kingston Trio
in a spirited performance
recorded live at
famous "Hungry 'i'
*Produced by VOYLE GILMORE
|1. Three Jolly
Coachmen (Trad. Arr. -D.
Guard / G. Guard)
2. Bay of Mexico (Trad. Arr. -D. Guard / G. Guard)
3. Banua (Trad. Arr. -D. Guard)
4. Tom Dooley (F. Warner / J. Lomax / A. Lomax)
5. Fast Freight (Terry Gilkyson)
6. Hard, Ain't It Hard (Woody Guthrie)
7. Saro Jane (Trad. Arr. -Louis Gottlieb)
8. (The Wreck of the) Sloop John B. (Arr. -L. Hays / C. Sandburg)
9. Santy Anno (Trad. Arr. - Dave Guard)
10. Scotch and Soda (Dave Guard)
11. Coplas (Trad. Arr. -D. Guard)
12. Little Maggie (D. Guard / G. Guard)
. . From the Hungry "i"*
Trio (original Capitol release
The original Kingston Trio of Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane recorded ten albums for Capitol Records. All of these albums were good, and critics have hailed many of them as "great," but none of them captured the energy and enthusiasm of the young group quite like the two on this compact disc, the first in a series of special "Double Play" reissues from Capitol.
For the uninitiated (or for those whose memories need refreshing), Dave Guard played 6-string guitar and 5-string banjo, Nick Reynolds played 4-string guitar, bongos and conga drums, Bob Shane played 6-string Guitar and 4-string banjo, and all of theme sang. Dave became the musical "leader" of the Trio early on, because that was his strongest area of productivity. As he once told interviewer Elizabeth Wilson, "The original set-up was that Nick handled transportation, Bobby handled costumes and laundry, and I handled the music . . . We all took music lessons, but I was the one who was interested. I would stay up all night and write these things out." When the Trio reached the point where transportation and laundering were provided for them, Dave's role became even more important and solidified his leadership position in the group.
The Kingston Trio was their first album, recorded in February of 1958 -- thirty-three and a third years ago -- at Capitol's Studio B in Los Angeles. It marked the beginning of the Trio's fruitful association with producer Voyle Gilmore, who would remark years later that this first album was his favorite Trio recording because of the group's high levels of energy and interest during the production.
The Kingston Trio wasn't released until June 1, 1958. The first Kingston Trio record to actually receive airplay was a non-LP single released earlier in the spring, "Scarlet Ribbons." This historically significant track may be found on the Trio's "Collectors Series" compact disc (Capitol CDP 7 92710 2), a twenty-song compilation released last year. [Note: "Collectors Series" also contains extensive liner notes that chronicle in great detail the group's formation and evolution, and it is highly recommended to fans as well as collectors. In the liner notes of the Double Play series, we will endeavor not to repeat the majority of that information.]
The Kingston Trio is filled with "classic" performances, but they are classic only in hindsight. None of the twelve tunes had been anywhere near a chart or a "Hit Parade" before, although fans of the Weavers (the granddaddy of all folk groups) might have remembered "Sloop John B." adapted by Lee Hays from the poetry of Carl Sandburg. The Trio's version of this song inspired the Beach Boys' 1966 #3 chart hit, just as surely as the group adopted the Trio's striped shirts. "Fast Freight" might also have been heard but those who knew of Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders (the credited writers), who had gone to #4 on charts with a song called "Marianne" in early 1957, one of the few "folk" hits registered after the Weavers and before the Kingston Trio. "Hard, Ain't It Hard," being a Woody Guthrie creation, would have enjoyed some familiarity during an earlier decade.
Other remarkable songs on this album stand out from our vantagepoint in the Nineties. "Scorch and Soda," now considered a Trio staple, wasn't released as a single until 1962, and then only hobbled to #81. Bob Shane has acknowledge it is his favorite Trio song, and it is rumored that Frank Sinatra once declined the opportunity to record it, saying Bob's version was the definitive one. It's hard to think of "Tom Dooley" as just a song, but that's what it started out as when Civil War veteran and convicted murderer Tom Dula wrote the words in his cell on death row. Bob Shane claims recently unearthed prison records indicate Tom was being consumed by venereal disease and was looking forward to his execution! Incidentally, this is one of the few Trio songs on which Bob played the banjo and Dave did not. "Tom Dooley" was also the source of a lengthy lawsuit over copyright ownership of the arrangement -- a suit the Trio eventually lost.
The Kingston Trio was not consciously trying to re-invent the folk idiom, and the songs on this first album [as well as those on ". . . From The Hungry "i"] defy blanket categorization. The Trio's influences ranged from Burl Ives to Frank Sinatra to Polynesian tribal musicians whose names have been lost to time. But in the music business of 1958, in the middle of Eisenhower's last term in office, it seemed like everything required a label. And even with Dave Guard disclaiming their lack of authenticity in the liner notes, the Kingston Trio soon became known as "folk singers."
"Tom Dooley" was the song that launched what few self-styled purists have labeled "the Great Folk Scare of the Sixties." We'll assume that those who cut their musical teeth on Disco and Punk aren't reading this anyway, but for the benefit of those of you recently awakened from cryogenic sleep induced during the McCarthy era, some elaboration: "The Kingston Trio: fell into the hands of a Salt Lake City DJ who was immediately smitten with track 4 on side 1. He played it on the air (June 19, 1958) to great acclaim, and he spread the good word to his friends in "the biz" in other corners of the United States. The radio stations' requests to Capitol for a single version of "Tom Dooley" were answered by late Summer, and spent Twenty-one weeks on the charts, reaching the #1 position in late December. It earned the Trio their first Gold Record award (January 21, 1959), As well as a Grammy award (May 10th) for "Best Country & Western Performance" beating such illustrious nominees as Don Gibson, Jimmie Rogers and the Everly Brothers. [There was no "Folk" category until the next year. The group received a second nomination for "Tom Dooley" in the "Best Vocal Group" Category but lost to "That Old Black Magic" by Louis Prima & Keely Smith. There was no "Best New Artist" Grammy given for 1958, but if there had been, the Trio would most certainly have received a nomination in that category, as well.] "Tom Dooley" also propelled "The Kingston Trio" onto the album chart in late October 1958, where it resided for nearly four years thereafter, spending one week at #1 in early 1959. It was awarded a gold album on January 19, 1961.
So the Kingston Trio went from being an obscure California club act to an internationally acclaimed recording entity in the space of one season, the autumn of 1958. Luckily, manager Frank Werber had rehearsed them to the point of professionalism, so when the brass ring came around, the group was ready to grab it and take a long rewarding ride on the entertainment world's merry-go-'round.
. . . From The
Hungry 'i' (original
Capitol release number T-1107)
Before fame and fortune hit, the group had already recorded their second album. "From the Hungry 'i'." They began their work on the live recording at the San Francisco nightclub just a few days after "The Kingston Trio" was released. Indeed, Frank Werber was selling the album at the door, including one copy to a record store owner from Salt Lake City, who then stocked the album in her store, where it was purchased by a certain DJ, etc. For this new album, Voyle Gilmore recorded two nights (four shows) of the Trio's material during the group's twenty-seven day engagement at the Hungry "I". The range of their repertoire was still amazingly wide, and their off-the-cuff wit (which was actually carefully rehearsed and as tuned as their instruments) between songs was showcased for the first time. Dave Guard's erudite humor (which was largely credited to the example of Lou Gottlieb, then of the Gateway Singers and late of the Limeliters) established him as the band's spokesman. "Tom Dooley" may have brought the Trio fame and statistical immortality, but it was "From the Hungry 'i'" that brought the college crowd to see them in the hundreds of thousands from 1959 onward. It was released in January of that year, right after "Tom Dooley" hit the top, and it climbed as high as #2 on the album chart, a position it held for four weeks. Longevity wise, it compared favorably with "The Kingston Trio" even earning gold status on the same date.
Considering the monster hit proportions of "Tom Dooley" (it sold over six million copies worldwide), the most amazing bit of trivia regarding "From the Hungry 'i'" is that no single record sequel was gleaned from it. Certainly " Gue', Gue'," "They Call The Wind Maria," "Merry Little Minuet," or the medley "Shady Grove / Lonesome Traveler" [or "Scotch and Soda" or "Bay of Mexico" from "The Kingston Trio"] would have fared better on the charts than the rushed studio version of "Raspberries, Strawberries" [available on the "Collectors Series" CD] that peaked at #70 in February.
Some additional tidbits on songs "From the Hungry 'i'": Voyle Gilmore had no luck getting a harmonious live a cappella intro to "Gue', Gue'," so he had the Trio cut a studio version that he edited into this otherwise authentic album. " Lonesome Traveler," "Wimoweh" and "When The Saints Go Marching In" are direct from the Weavers; the Trio's version of "Wimoweh" inspired "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," a 1962 #1 gold record by the Tokens; "Saints" became the Kingstons' traditional show-closing encore. The arrangement of Shady Grove" (and thereby the royalties) became the subject of dispute, finally being credited to folk traditionalist Jean Ritchie. There was definite Broadway connection on the album, as well: Lerner & Loewe's "They Call The Wind Maria" became a powerhouse solo for Bob Shane, and "The Merry Minuet" (the album's airplay leader, thanks to a special radio station-only single) was the work of Sheldon Harnick, later responsible for such lofty fare as "Fiddler On The Roof."
The Hungry "I" would continue to figure prominently in the history of the Kingston Trio: with John Stewart (who joined the Trio after Dave's 1961 resignation), the group would record their last Capitol album there in 1964 ["Back In Town," to be featured on a Double Play CD in early 1992], and that group's farewell performances would be held at the Hungry "i" in June 1967.
"The Kingston Trio" and "From the Hungry 'i'" compliment each other well on this disc, for they are two of a kind. Both are presented here in their pristine mono (someone tell Brian Wilson and Phil Specter the good news!) and they represented the group at a time when they were having FUN. "Tom Dooley" was still another song on their first album; they weren't plastered all over the teen magazines yet; they weren't suffering the personal and professional pressures that being #1 would create. They were just one step removed from the nights of playing for beer. They were "unspoiled" -- or as at least unspoiled as California college grads were capable of being in the late fifties. Arguably, their best work still lay ahead, but the songs on this disc probably stayed closest to their hearts because most of them were personal favorites learned long ago from parents, friends, various live acts and many beloved recordings.
Indeed, the three songs chosen by Dave, Nick and Bob for their only reunion performance (recorded November 7, 1981, for a PBS TV special) were drawn from these first two albums. "Hard, Ain't It Hard," Tom Dooley," and "Zombie Jamboree" were tunes they knew by heart, made them comfortable, and produced no heated debates. When Dave Guard finally lost his fight to cancer in March 1991, the herein contained recording of "Zombie Jamboree" was played at the memorial service Dave wanted people to smile and celebrate living, because that's what the Kingston Trio was all about in the first place.
And the first place is where you are right now with this marvelous disc. If there weren't already a mini folk boom knocking at record company doors, then the raw energy and vitality of this timeless reissue would probably start one. In any case, put away this booklet, turn on your CD player, and drink deeply into the well of your youth. You'll find the taste is even better than you remembered.
-- Ben Blake, May, 1991
(Ben Blake is the editor and co-author of the 1986 book "The Kingston Trio On Record")
Analog tape recorder used during session recording and subsequent mixing and / or editing, digital tape recorder used during mastering (transcription)
This Compact Disc contains program transferred from analog tape and therefore may contain some tape hiss and other anomalies that exist with analog recording.
The Compact Disc Digital Audio System offers the best possible sound reproduction -- on a small, convenient disc. The Compact Disc's remarkable performance is the result of a unique combination of digital playback with laser optics. For the best results, you should apply the same care in storing and handling Compact Discs as with conventional records. Do not expose the disc to direct sunlight, heat, or humidity for a prolonged period of time. No further cleaning will be necessary if the Compact Disc is always held by the edges and is replaced in its case directly after playing. Should the Compact Disc become soiled by fingerprints, dust or dirt, it can be wiped (always in a straight line, from the center to the edge) with a clean, lint-free, soft dry cloth. Using Ethyl Alcohol if necessary. Do not use conventional record cleaner. If you follow these suggestions, the Compact Disc will provide a lifetime of pure listening enjoyment.
© 1992 Capitol Records, Inc.
Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc. -- Printed in USA
Project Director: Wayne Watkins
Audio Produced by Bob Furmanek
Remastered by Bob Norberg
Coordination: Mark Dix
The above is pretty-much a complete transcript of the liner notes packaged with this excellent re-release from Capitol Records.
NOTE: the liner notes as the appear on the original Capitol Records release of THE KINGSTON TRIO (T996) are not diplicated in the notes for this 1992 CD "two-for" re-issue.