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A great snapshot of a magical time

The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 1: All Kinds of Folk
The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 1: All Kinds of Folk
By various artists

Prestige / Fantasy: 1995



The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 2: The New City Blues
The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 2: The New City Blues
By various artists

Prestige / Fantasy: 1995



The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 3: Roots And Branches
The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 3: Roots And Branches
By various artists

Prestige / Fantasy: 1995



The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 4: Singing Out Loud
The Prestige / Folklore Years, Vol. 4: Singing Out Loud
By various artists

Prestige / Fantasy: 1995


These reviews first appeared in the March 24, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

It wasn't a long run, folk music on Prestige Records, but boy, what a collection of artists and music came out of that period.

Prestige was an ultrahip jazz label that briefly jumped into the folk scene in the early '60s. This four-CD collection (sold separately, not as a box set – which is too bad) traces the major artists on the label during that brief run.

For a jazz label, Prestige had an inordinately influential impact on the folk and pop scenes. The musicians found here range from the Piedmont blues of the Rev. Gary Davis to the Midwestern blues of Jesse Fuller (including his seminal "San Francisco Bay Blues," sort of an anthem of the late '60s). Some of the other artists here also went on to help define the sound of the late '60s counterculture movement – people like Geoff Muldaur and Tracy Nelson (joined on two cuts by a young Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica).

In addition, Jean Redpath, who has recorded dozens of albums of Scottish folk music, has some early recordings included here, as do folk stalwarts Pete Seeger, Tom Rush, Dave Von Ronk and "Ramblin'" Jack Elliott.

Most of the music here has a sort of innocence about it, an underlying optimism that things could get better. These four sets represent much of what was best about the '60s – the idealism, the optimism, the open-mindedness to new sounds and new ideas. The music is fantastic, as listenable as it is nostalgic for a time before folk music became nihilistic.