At Large / Here We Go Again
(Capitol CDP 7 96749 2)
|THE KINGSTON TRIO
(Original Capitol release number ST 1190)
This second in a series of "Double Play" compact discs by the original Kingston Trio of Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane contains two of the groups most acclaimed albums.
The Kingston Trio At Large, the group's first stereo studio album, was recorded in February of 1959 in New York City, and produced by Voyle Gilmore. This was also the first Trio album to benefit from the welcome and fortuitous acquisition of David "Buck" Wheat, bassist, arranger/composer/ and occasional supplemental guitarist. Wheat would remain with the trio until the end of 1961.
With one album near the top of the chart and another climbing toward it [The Kingston Trio and From the Hungry i featured on the first Trio Double Play CD], and the multimillion selling single "Tom Dooley" under their belts, the group was well on its way to becoming the most popular vocal/instrumental combo in the country. Released in June, At Large made sure that was exactly what happened. The album leaped up the chart to the #1 position where it resided for an incredible fifteen weeks.
Dave guard considered At Large to be the Trio's finest album, a belief backed-up by the members of the National Academy Of Recording Arts & Sciences, who voted it a Grammy Award as "Best Folk Performance of 1959," the only Kingston Trio album ever to be so honored. (So many commercial "folk" artists came out of the woodwork after the Trio's "Tom Dooley" went gold and won a Grammy, that the Academy had to create a separate category for 1959 and the decade that followed.) At Large was also nominated in the "Best Vocal Group or Chorus" category, where the Trio was outgunned bt the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "Battle Hymn of the Republic." A gold album award on January 19, 1961, was the frosting on the cake for At Large, and only the 1962 compilation album, The Best of the Kingston Trio has sold more copies for the group.
The staying power of At Large at the top of the chart figured prominently in the Trio's landing on the cover of Life (August 3, 1959), a sure sign that Dave, Nick and Bob had "arrived" at stardom.
The album's success was boosted by the airplay from a top twenty single, "M.T.A.," a novelty song about the mishaps of a Boston subway passenger named Charlie. The record zipped up the chart just as an earlier single "The Tijuana Jail" (included on the Trio's excellent Collectors Series compact disc, Capitol CDP 7 92701 2), slid down.
The Trio re-recorded their first single, "Scarlet Ribbons," in stereo for At Large, and the new version shows the group's growth and maturity as vocalists in less than a years time.
The group's dong selections on this album were first rate and showed they could adapt themselves to new materal with ease. "All My Sorrows," "The Seine," "Good News," "Getaway John" and "The Long Black Rifle" are all miniature works of art in their own way, with the latter pair being rather blatant (and surpassingly successful) attempts to recapture the brooding atmosphere of "Tom Dooley." The album's rousing closer, "Remember the Alamo," sure sounds like a hit record, and it probably could have been. The story goes that actor/director John Wayne wanted the song for his epic movie, The Alamo, but finally went with "The Green Leaves of Summer" and the Brothers Four. "Remember the Alamo" was written by Jane Bowers, and it was re-recorded years later by Johnny Cash. Bowers would go on to write to co-write several of the Trio's finest songs.
At Large was a monster of an album, a career-high watermark for the Kingston Trio, in much the same way Tapestry was for Carol King and Thriller was for Michael Jackson. There was no way to top it, but the group's next album came out swinging.
-- Ben Blake, 1991
|THE KINGSTON TRIO presents a variety of ballads from many times and places . . . exciting tales of high adventure, humorous tunes, and tender love songs. Each is delivered with the imagination and spirit that have brought the group tremendous acclaim.|
|1.||M.T.A. (J. Steiner / B. Hawes) was written by Bess Hawes (of the Lomax family) and Jacqueline Steiner. It's about the man who was riding the Boston M.T.A. when the fare was changed. He didn't have the price of a transfer, and may be riding there still|
|2.||ALL MY SORROWS (Guard / Shane / Reynolds) was first heard by Bob Shane in a Los Angeles coffee house. The Trio then became acquainted with Glenn Yarborough's version of the tune as a love song, and in their own adaptation, have kept it as a love story. "It was originally a lullaby," notes Dave Guard, "and possibly a spiritual before that."|
|3.||BLOW YE WINDS (Dave Guard) was first learned by Dave Guard as a British song, The Eclipse. This interpretation is a composite from several American sources. The last three choruses are based, however, on the British version used by Ewan MacColl and Ed McCurdy.|
|4.||COREY, COREY (Guard / Shane / Reynolds) Comes from the Southern Appalachians and is a favorite of banjo pickers as well as singers. Some of the lyrics have been rewritten by the Trio. Final lyric revisions, incidentally, are usually done by Dave Guard.|
|5.||THE SEINE (Irving Burgess) is a misty, romantic ballad by Lord Burgess. It creates a mood somewhat far afield from the calypsos by which he's best known.|
|6.||I BAWLED (Bob Shane) The Trio first heard this number from Stan Wilson, a San Francisco folk singer and song writer. It tells of the misadventures a suitor has with his girl's mother.|
|7.||GOOD NEWS (Louis Gottlieb) is the first spiritual the Kingston Trio has recorded -- not counting When the Saints Go Marching In. The arrangement is by Dr. Louis Gottlieb, a Sanfrancisco musicologist and comic.|
|8.||GETAWAY JOHN (Dave Guard) John Hardy, it appears, was an actual man, a rough one, who was sentenanced to be hanged for murder in 1894. The Trio has made some harmonic changes from the original.|
|9.||THE LONG BLACK RIFLE (L. Coleman / N. Gimbel) was suggested to the Kingston Trio by their vocal coach, in California, Judy Davis.|
|10.||EARLY MORNIN' (R. Starr / D. Wolf) is the familiar What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor? It may date back, Dave feels, to the time of Sir Francis Drake.|
|11.||SCARLET RIBBONS (FOR HER HAIR) (E. Danzig / J. O. Segal) id thought of as a traditional folk tune by many, but actually was composed several years ago by Evelyn Danzig / Jack Segal. It's an impressive tribute to the composers' ability to catch the spirit of folk music.|
|12.||REMEMBER THE ALAMO (Jane Bowers) was written by Jane Bowers, a proud Texan who knows much of Texas lore, and has constructed several songs from her knowledge. The Trio met her when they were performing in Austin.|
|HERE WE GO AGAIN|
|13.||MOLLY DEE (John Stewart)|
|14.||ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI (J. Shirl / E. M. Drake)|
|15.||HAUL AWAY (Dave Guard)|
|16.||THE WANDERER (Irving Burgess)|
|17.||'ROUND ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN (Lou Gottlieb)|
|18.||OLEANNA (H. Geller / M. Seligson)|
|19.||THE UNFORTUNATE MISS BAILY (Lou Gottlieb)|
|20.||SAN MIGUEL (Jane Bowers)|
|21.||E INU TATOU E (George Archer)|
|22.||ROLLING STONE (Stan Wilson)|
|23.||GOOBER PEAS (Dave Guard)|
|24.||A WORRIED MAN (D. Guard / T. Glazer)|
"WE WANT TO MAKE EACH SONG LIVE," says Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio, and that they certainly do. For Dave, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds succeed remarkably in bringing to vividly entertaining life a wide range of material from many countries -- as can be heard in their previous albums, "The Kingston Trio" (T 966) and "From the Hungry i" (T 1107). There is also, of course, their tale of Tom Dooley whivh as sold over one million records, an indication of how large an audience exists for living folk songs if they're presented with conviction, wit and a skillful sense of drama.
In previous recordings, Dave, Bob and Nick performed songs they'd known for a long time. Tn the present set, the material (with the exception of Scarlet Ribbons) was relatively new to them; and this is an illuminating opportunity to hear how the Kingston Trio approaches fresh material and how imaginatively they adapt it to their own style.
(notes by Nat Hentoff)
(Nat Hentoff is well known for his contributions to Esquire, The New Yorker, The Reporter, and Down Beat magazines. He is also co-editor of Jazz Review)
A Wonderful variety of ballads . . . recorded here for the first time by THE KINGSTON TRIO
DAVE GUARD, NICK REYNOLDS, and BOB SHANE are three good reasons why folk music is so popular with folks today. There's always been a lot of interest in these songs that grow out of almost every time, place and setting. But for years, they've been performed by mostly by the arts-and-craftsy set. Now, however, the Kingston Trio has made them fun for everybody.
To the probable annoyance of future biographers, the Kingston Trio skipped the traditional slow ans tedious struggle for recognition. They zoomed to the top as though they'd been kicked by a mule -- but not, obviously, in the heads. These are very bright lads. In fact, just about the brightest thing on the musical horizon today is this fine combination of talent, style, originality, good spirits, and showmanship.
Not the least of the Trio's accomplishments is debunking the myth that succeeding in show business means identifying oneself with a definite age group, geographical entity, or musical sect. The Kingston combo makes as good listening in Jamaica, New York, as in Jamaica West Indies. They're living, singing proof to parents that teenagers aren't tone deaf, and to the younger set, that it's possible to teach old dogs new tricks -- and trios. They dish out plenty of melody, harmony, and rhythm of a sort that everyone likes to hear, at the same time displaying all the finesse and sophistication needed to go "far out" in any direction they choose. One thing, however, they never sound -- and that's bored. Their enthusiasm is as boundless as their repertoire, and their accent in any given song -- whether it's a sea chanty, a spiritual, or the politely bawdy saga of The Unfortunately Miss Bailey -- is persuasively authentic.
One quality, so subtle it's easily overlooked, is that this group delivers a song with the direct and personal warmth of an individual stylist. All the more remarkable when it's considered that each of the threesome has his own way with a song. Testimony to this are Nick Reynold's blue solo in The Wanderer, Bob Shane's ebullient rendition of A Rolling Stone, and the sure and sensitive delivery of Dave Guard in the haunting San Miguel, a most romantic and dramatic ballad. These lads seem to always be at their best, whether singing a song of mood and romance, or banging out a lusty tune, full steam ahead, with guitars, banjos, and bongos going like crazy.
Dave, Nick, and Bob merely whetted the public appetite with their earlier Capitol albums, which contained such hit tunes as Tom Dooley and M.T.A. It's a pretty safe bet that one or more of the dozen diverse and diverting tunes they've recorded here will likewise blast into orbit. So . . . "Here We Go Again."
HERE WE GO AGAIN (Original Capitol release ST 1258)
Recorded in May and released in October of 1959, Here We Go Again followed At Large to the #1 spot on the national album chart, where it held off all contenders for eight weeks. Like At Large, it pulled down a pair of Grammy nominations for the Trio but they lost out in the Folk category to Harry Belefonte, a worthy adversary (and a major influence) they had bested the previous year. They were up against the Brothers Four ("Greenfields") in the Vocal Group category, but were defeated by Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme.
Statistically, Here We Go Again tipped the scales at Capitol with a quarter million-copy advance pressing, which eventually had to be repeated, as the album earned its gold on the same day as At Large. At one point in late 1959, the Kingston Trio had four albums in Billboard's top ten, and the group's chart popularity was still over a year away from peaking!
Riding the crest of an enormous wave of popularity, the Kingston Trio became an easy target for naysayers. Dave, Nick and Bob had opened a floodgate for literally hundreds of recording acts to swim through. Some of those who didn't achieve instant success took cheap shots at the boys at the top of the heap for their "bastardizing" of classic folk tunes (oddly enough, no one ever called Bob Dylan on that a few years later!). Eager for something new to write about, a few music critics followed suit. A leading encyclopedia's 1959 Yearbook dismissed the Kingstons as "song parodists." Years after the fuss and nonsense, Dave Guard waxed philosophical about it all in an interview with Elizabeth Wilson: "Everybody's going to accuse the Kingston Trio of everything, so we don't have to worry about that. That's their job. Our job was to do the music, their job was to do the criticism, if we had them doing the music and us doing the criticism, nothing would have happened."
"A Worried Man" was Here We Go Again's hit single, although it barely cracked the top twenty. The Trio had a solid core of album buying fans by now, so their singles had a diminishing rate of appeal. When you could pay $1.00 and get two songs or pay $3.00 and get twelve songs -- most of them first rate -- it didn't take a math major to see that "long players" were the wave of the future. At any rate, "A Worried Man" remains one of the group's most popular songs.
Although it its certainly undiscernibly to this listener's ear, Here We Go Again's was reportedly the first Kingston Trio album on which Voyle Gilmore utilized what was called "double-voicing" whenever all three group members sang in unison. This was accomplished by having them record their vocals twice; then Gilmore simply overdubbed one of the tracks. This gave the group a fuller sound. Recorded at Studio B in Los Angeles, Here We Go Again also benefited from Capitol's Grand Canyon-like echo chamber, which Gilmore used to make the Trio's instruments "ring" like no other folk group, before or since.
The album's lead-off track marks another "first" for the Kingston Trio, as well as a portent of the future. "Molly Dee" was a composition by a teen rocker-turned-folkie named John Stewart, who had fearlessly approached the group with some of his songs when they played a county fair in his home town in 1958. The Trio (and manager Frank Werber) took John under their wing, and he eventually formed his own called The Cumberland Three, which recorded three albums for Roulette Records. As fate would later have it, Dave Guard would resign from the Kingston Trio in 1961, and John would win his spot in the lineup.
What the Trio once referred to as "groovy harmonies" were never more abundant than on :Across the Wide Missouri," a beautiful ballad that remains a favorite of Trio fans today. Other gems on Here We Go Again include "'Round About The Mountain," "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey," and "San Miguel." The sprightly non-sensical "Oleanna" was later adapted as one of the Trio's radio and television commercials for 7-up.
The rousing "Haul Away" was yet another standout
from the album, and it has recently acquired yet another
distinction: it was the last of the Kingston Trio recordings
played at the Good Friday memorial service in Portsmouth, New
Hampshire, for Dave Guard, who succumbed to lymphatic cancer on
March 22, 1991. Unitarian Universalist Minister Robert Karman
concluded his brief eulogy for Dave with "Haul Away"'s
final line: "East wind bring us home."
The Kingston Trio At Large and Here We Go Again represent the group at its very best. In an era marked by enormous popularity of Original Cast and Soundtrack albums, lush instrumentals and Johnny Mathis, the Trio managed to top the album charts almost one-third of the time. To say that Dave, Nick and Bob were popular in 1959 is like saying that John, Paul, George and Ringo were popular in 1964: it's an exercise in understatement. More great albums were still to come, but song for song, you may well be holding the finest Kingston Trio CD of all time in your hands right now. Enjoy these songs once more. You'll agree they have improved with the passage of time.
Ben Blake, May 1991
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Produced by VOYLE GILMORE
(p) © 1991 Capitol Records
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