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The Weavers
Reunion at Carnegie Hall 1963

Reunion at Carnegie Hall 1963

By Karl Lozier
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Gold Disc CD Stock Number: Classic Records DAD-1041 Gold Disc

 

  Whoa! What's going on here? The Weavers at 24-bit word length (some engineers argue that 20-bit is very sufficient) and 96 kHz sampling rate (that some engineers believe is not quite sufficient) for ultimate sound quality. A fair amount of new recording is being done at 192 kHz! Quite a change from their mono recordings of a half-century ago. Their double-sided coup early in 1950 featured "Goodnight Irene" that topped the charts for 13 weeks. The flip side, "Tzana,Tzana,Tzana", was number two, what a recording start! According to Craig Ogozaly, local vinyl entrepreneur and proprietor of Craigs Collectible Records, that early recording was a 78 rpm record soon followed by the 45 rpm version and in 1951 by a 10 inch LP, all on the Decca label. Later recordings were mainly on Vanguard with its well-known reputation for featuring folk music. The Weavers had formed in 1948 and got their big break with a two week gig, Christmas 1949. The gig at Village Vanguard turned into 6 months. Time magazine called the Weavers "the most widely imitated folk music group in the business". Even many of today's younger generation nod affirmatively when Pete Seger is mentioned as one of the Weavers. Seger left the group around 1958 and at least three replacements took his place over the years. As a point of knowledge for you fledglings; Ronnie Gilbert of the Weavers is a woman; to quote Pete Seger, "with a brilliant alto voice."

This fine recording was originally available on Vanguard, VSD 2150, The Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall - 1963. Classic Records has obviously gotten to use Vanguard's master tapes to make this CD. This disc duplicates the LP I mentioned above, no added selections. I also have a similarly entitled album with "part two" in the title. It is Vanguard VSD 79161. The "historic" reunion concerts were held on May 2nd and 3rd, 1963. The "part two" LP has favorites of mine missing from this CD. If this album sells well, then part two may eventually be produced by Classic Records. The missing are "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine", "Rock Island Line" and "On Top of Old Smoky". Dot Lozier's favorite, a hauntingly beautiful rendition by Ronnie Gilbert of "My Fisherman", "My Laddie" is also on that album. I digress, but that album has a rather unique "modern" folk song by Shel Silverstein, I'm Standing On The Outside Of Your Shelter. Can you guess/remember what it's all about ____ (answer will be found at end of this review). There are about a half dozen more Vanguard albums of The Weavers; each one has at least a few songs that most mature adults enjoy - a real nostalgia kick. I've neglected them for too long and pulled all mine out played them and then played my favorites again. Their most famous album was the 1955 Christmas Eve Carnegie Hall production immortalized on Vanguard VRS-9010 as The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, period, not reunion. Be forewarned, the "S" in the numbering does not stand for stereo; there is an electronically re-recorded stereo simulation LP that I have, numbered VSD-6533.

On this Classic Record CD we are treated to a live recording of a great, probably the greatest folk music group of the past century. The audience obviously loves the performers and the artists are reciprocating with generally fine performances. Some of the selections have Pete Seger's replacements playing with the original four making for a slightly " fuller more rounded sound quality". The sound quality is very good indeed, if not quite of demonstration quality. Remember the master tapes are nearly forty years old and tapes do deteriorate tending to lose some fine details from low-level high frequency information. I was hard put to find significant differences between this and my stereo LP version. Much of the time I heard no differences. Sometimes I was convinced the LP was giving the expected "rounder , richer, more liquid sound quality" with more depth of soundscape". Other times, the differences were simply not there - rejoice, we're getting some digital copies of old favorites that we can actually enjoy. This time I'll give part of the credit to Kevin Halverson of Muse Electronics who aided in the digital preparation of this album.

If you're not familiar with the Weavers try this album. They're about the best thing to have happened to folk music. Don't expect strong hints of many county/western music groups. This is folk music and some of it is really best described as pop or popular music. They're polished professionals and sound it. Classic Records are also obviously professionals and this 24-bit/96 kHz disc demonstrates it accordingly. As an avowed vinyl lover, I can freely admit that I would just as soon listen to this fine CD as I would my prime condition LP of the same recording. If you are not in agreement with my statement, check the possibility that perhaps your CD player is not able to take full advantage of what Classic Records is offering here. As fate would have it, a number of forces juxtaposition themselves to create something between confusion and havoc the past three days. Amplifiers, cables and speakers all destined for review arrived in that window of time and in the middle of it all, my CD player kept saying "no disc" even when one was very obviously loaded. So off it went to the great beyond of factory service and the modest Pioneer 414 DVD/CD player moved into the number one spot for another double check while I'm literally polishing this paragraph. Preliminary cable reviewing (after break in) had started also. Then the unexpected happened and the CD reproduction seemed to be very subtly more rounded and liquid than the LP. How could that be, I pondered. I discovered that I had inadvertently put different cables on the outputs of the phono and CD; both were made by the same company and at a glance appeared to be identical. They were not and certainly did not sound identical! Review to come. Yes, I was listening very attentively; I was not relaxing and just enjoying the beautiful music being presented by the Weavers. Under that sort of situation differences, even subtle ones, are noticeable and cables do have audible differences. The fairly subtle differences were enough to change the perceptions of this CD versus LP. The times, "they are a changin" and it looks like we're all going to benefit sooner or later. Stay tuned.

 

Karl Lozier

 

Answer: This song was written about the time of the "Cuban missile crisis". Atomic bomb/fallout shelters were being built; ten miles from where I live one was built for J.F.K. who often vacationed here. It is now open for public inspection. In this song the ex-boy friend is trying to convince the girl to let him come into her shelter - pleading to gain entrance. Can we call that "singing the blues"?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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