April 21, 2009
The Omni Recording Corporation
Folk, Folksongs, Political Folk, Folk Revival, Children's Folk, Traditional Folk

Album Review

This two-disc set collects Pete Seeger's final three LPs for Columbia Records, 1968's Now, 1969's Young vs. Old, and 1971's Rainbow Race, along with the banned and never officially issued single "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" from 1970, and what emerges is a pretty well-rounded portrait of Seeger's various sides as songwriter, song interpreter, live performer, and cultural and political barometer. There's no denying Seeger's historical importance to both folk and pop music and on the political front, well, he's been a kind of canary in the coal mine for decades, speaking (and singing) out on any number of vital issues. At the time that these albums were originally released, though, Seeger presented a tough marketing problem for Columbia, partly because of the singer's strong political views and partly for his equally as strong aversion to all things mercantile, and at a time when the urban folk boom was at its peak, Seeger, who by all rights should have been in the front and center of it, was marginalized, as much an embarrassment to Columbia marketing execs as he was an asset. Time heals all wounds, however, or at least time covers them up, and Seeger can now be viewed as what he always was, a gifted live performer, songwriter and song preserver who has more interest in bringing people together for social utility than dividing and provoking them to anger. Packaged like this, these three LPs reveal a versatile and thoughtful performer, and there are plenty of gems here, including the stark and startling "Last Train to Nuremberg," the call and response sing-a-long "He's Long Gone," a graceful reading of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and a beautiful rendition of the gospel folk traditional "Water Is Wide," among others. Seeger has been doing the same sort of thing ever since the Almanac Singers, so nothing here is revelatory, but one wonders why Columbia just didn't market Seeger for what he really was -- an American treasure.
Steve Leggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Last Train to Nuremberg
  2. Sailing Down This Golden River
  3. Uncle Ho
  4. Snow Snow
  5. My Rainbow Race
  6. Our Generation
  7. Old Devil Time
  8. The Clearwater
  9. Words Words Words
  10. Hobo's Lullaby
  11. Adam the Inventor
  12. Letter to Eve
  13. Talking Ben Tre
  14. Backlash Blues
  15. He's Long Gone
  16. The Torn Flag
  17. Michael Row the Boat Ashore
  18. Taint Me But One
  19. False from True
  20. Cotton Needed Pickin' So Bad
  21. Everybody's Got a Right to Live
  22. The Cities Are Burning
  23. Water Is Wide (O Waly Waly)
  24. Who Knows
  25. Bring Them Home
  26. When I Was Most Beautiful
  27. This Old Car
  28. Ballad of the Fort Hood Three
  29. Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase
  30. Since You've Been Apart
  31. Lolly Todum
  32. My Rainbow Man
  33. Poisoning the Student's Minds
  34. All My Children of the Sun
  35. The Good Boy
  36. Be Kind to Your Parents
  37. Get Up and Go
  38. Declaration of Independence
  39. Both Sides Now
  40. Mayrowana
  41. I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag [#]