REVIEW

 

VARIOUS
Sanders Theater Benefit 1965 [no label 2CD Torrent: 61850
Live at Memorial Hall, Sanders Theatre, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, Jan 16, 1965 with Richard & Mimi Farina, Eric Andersen & Judy Collins. Ex pre-FM? stereo.

The sound quality is a little shaky, but anyone searching for an unspoiled document of the American folk movement as it moved into the mid-1960s is unlikely to find anything purer than this. Three short sets by the Farinas, Anderson and the headlining Collins are each remarkable in their own way, with the opening Richard and Mimi sounding especially spirited - "Christmas Island," "The Falcon," "Tuileries," "Michael Andrew and John" and "Good King Jubilee" probably rank among the lesser-feted songs in their vocabulary, but a respectful audience knows them well, and the performance easily sits alongside the duo’s 1965 Newport tapes.

The Anderson set, six songs long, is a bit of a letdown after the Farinas, although he starts strong ("I’ll Write You A Letter On A Dusty Boxcar Wall"), and he returns at the end of the set for a rousing "My Land Is A Good Land." And then there’s Judy, who falls the closest to the commercial expectations of the era with a set dominated by "The Times They Are A-Changing," "Maid of Constant Sorrow" and "He Was A Friend Of Mine," but whose purity cannot be questioned.

It is one of folk history’s great tragedies that the conclusion of the performance, with all and sundry flooding the stage for one final singalong, was not preserved - the tape fades out en-route. But the fact that the show was even being recorded is a marvel, and the reality does not let us down. - Dave Thompson

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May 18, 2007