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Pete Seeger

Live in '65 (Appleseed Recordings)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Dec. 18, 2009

Phases & Stages

Pete Seeger

Live in '65 (Appleseed Recordings)

As folk forefather Pete Seeger sails into his ninth decade, the retrieval of previously unreleased recordings like this show at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Hall on Feb. 20, 1965, will become more and more. While the 31 songs spread across this 2-CD set capture Seeger at the peak of influence and vitality, a reverential crowd rapt by the solo performance, its value lies between the lines, in Seeger's banter and his opening stories to the songs that represent the archetypical folk experience. The troubadour plays prototypical folklorist throughout; from the first banjo licks of "Oh Susanna" to his own encore-closing tale of "Aviyoyo," Seeger serves as multicultural preserver ("Oleanna," "Los Cuatro Generales," "Guantanamera") and new folk disseminator (Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"). With only six of his own songs folded into the set, including "Turn! Turn! Turn!," "If I Had a Hammer," and "The Bells of Rhymney," Seeger clearly offers himself as part of a longer, more encompassing anonymous tradition. Three months later, Dylan famously went electric at Newport, much to Seeger's ire, and changed folk music's trajectory, giving this recording a hindsighted significance of folk at its 1960s high point.

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