Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Chess Goes Folk
Live at the Fickle Pickle - The Campus Singers
In 1963, folk music was all the rage in the US. Apparently, the Chess Bros in Chicago decided they would get in on the game. This album by the Campus Singers was their first step into the folk market via their Argo label.
And what a step it was. The harmonies are tight, the guitar playing is supple and varied, and there is enough humor in the between song banter to keep them from sounding too impossibly corny to modern ears.
But then again, kind of corny. The material is spotty - lots of Winkin Blinkin and Nod or If I Had a Hammer. Some of the topical references are awfully dated, even though the Dick Nixon swipe is kind of retro cool. Right after this album was recorded, Dylan dropped the bomb that made standards forever passe in the folk community. Accordingly, the second (and last) Campus Singers lp has lots of original and current songs.
Even though this album was recorded in Chicago, and the liner notes say they were from Kalamazoo, MI (that Mecca of the arts), these guys were fixtures on the east coast folk scene around the same time as PPM, Bobby D, and Phil Ochs. This ought to give you a rough sense of where they are coming from.
My favorite joke from the album: Singer 1 - If I had a screwdriver....um... (pregnant pause). Singer 2 - I'd drink it in the morning. Stop it guys, you're killing me!
This album probably didn't sell real well. The only copies I see are promo - a dead giveaway. Someone reissue this now!
I burned this as side 1 and side 2, as the bits between songs run all together. If anyone wants it, I'll post their other album, which is almost as good.
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