Recorded live at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. Originally released on Vanguard (79144). Includes original release liner notes by Stacey Williams.
The most collectible of the 1963 Newport Folk Festival albums, Broadside -- as its title implies -- serves up the hottest topical songs and performers to appear that weekend; 1963 marked the apogee of the folk protest movement, Broadside magazine was its mouthpiece, and Newport 1963 was the finest hour for all. It only follows, then, that this album should also emerge as the greatest tribute to that age of impassioned innocence. Bob Dylan opens and closes the LP with a pair of duets -- the first, with Pete Seeger, is a jolly singalong assault on the Hugh Hefners of this world, while the closing "With God on Our Side," alongside Joan Baez, is a revelation, a reminder of the days when Dylan and Baez, the king and queen of folk, really did seem ready to rule the world. A pair of Tom Paxton songs are equally remarkable. A gentle "Rambling Boy" is graced by a genuinely melodious audience singalong, while "The Willing Conscript" is as funny (and pertinent) today as it surely was in 1963, with the Vietnam conflict just beginning to escalate, and lessons in bayonetting, disembowelling, and dismembering the enemy were indeed a vital component of any youth's education. Further proof that the finest folk is that which retains its relevance no matter what the prevailing musical and cultural climate is delivered by Sam Hinton's wryly punning "Talking Atomic Blues." It was originally recorded in 1950; 13 years later, just months after the Cuban missile crisis, it still blistered with every ounce of its original passion. "We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men should be cremated equal." Newcomers Phil Ochs and Peter La Farge both impress; Englishman Bob Davenport, however, is ill-served by his unaccompanied drone through Ewan MacColl's "Come All Ye Giant Drivers," and three songs from the Freedom Singers were probably a lot more pertinent in 1963 than they sound today. Such moments of drabness are scarce, however; so scarce that if you should find a copy of this album, forget what the vinyl junkie down the road will pay for a copy. Keep it for yourself and play it till the grooves uncoil. ~ Dave Thompson