Liner Note Author: Peter Doggett.
Recording information: 1963.
Wow! This CD is a totally unexpected find from out of left field in just about every way that it's possible for a compact disc to be, in part because it's not really (or entirely) a Barry McGuire release. If you look closely, it's by "Barry McGuire (and the stars from the New Christy Minstrels)," but it's not a New Christy Minstrels collection, either. For starters, this is a folk revival CD from a reissue label (RPM) that's hardly known for its commitment to the latter musical genre -- in terms of content, this CD might have seemed more likely coming out of Sundazed or Rhino. For another, it is, indeed, folk music -- Barry McGuire as a solo artist is most closely associated with either the folk-rock sounds of "Eve of Destruction" or the religious music of his later career, but this is from earlier than either of those periods. And finally, it isn't entirely a Barry McGuire collection, though he is the dominant and most prominent personality on it. Rather, this 24-song collection is made up of the releases of Horizon Records, a small label owned by West Coast folk music impresario Dave Hubert, who had the foresight to record McGuire, Karen Gunderson, Art Podell, Paul Potash, and Barry Kane -- all future members of the New Christy Minstrels -- in various solo and ensemble settings (sometimes in association with Rod McKuen, leading an impromptu gathering of folkies called the Keytones). The result is amazingly close to what the New Christy Minstrels created, especially on numbers such as "Town and Country," the haunting "So Long, Stay Well," "Midnight Train" (the latter actually done by the Sherwood Singers, featuring Gunderson), and "Gold Wedding Ring." In terms of the listening, it amounts to a lost treasure trove of Christys-style music, originally issued on the Ember label under the generic "Star Folk" name, and in stunning sound. Indeed, one would very much want to hear more of the Sherwood Singers, based on their material represented here, but no fan of the Christys is going to complain about this collection. The McGuire material is very solid and a good rival for his best work with the New Christy Minstrels, and shows off that stunning voice in its youthful glory to magnificent effect, and one can hardly complain about the guitar and banjo accompaniments. The annotation by Peter Doggett does a fair job of sorting out the varying origins of the 24 songs. ~ Bruce Eder