SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Peter, Paul And Mary – In The Wind [TrackList follows] – Warner Brothers/ ORG 45-rpm (2 vinyls)

Legendary folk trio takes a career leap, with some help from Bob Dylan.

Published on July 21, 2014

Peter, Paul And Mary – In The Wind [TrackList follows] – Warner Brothers/  ORG 45-rpm (2 vinyls)

Peter, Paul And Mary – In The Wind [TrackList follows] – Warner Brothers WS 1507/Original Recordings Group ORG 071 45-rpm (2-12” vinyls), 37:22 ****1/2:

(Peter Yarrow – guitar, vocals; Noel “Paul” Stookey – guitar, vocals; Mary Travers – vocals; Eddie DeHaas – bass)

Peter Paul And Mary made a splash with their self-titled debut (1962). However, their third release, In The Wind propelled then to stardom. Not only did it hit No. 1 on the charts,  the two prior albums cracked the Top Ten. Featuring two Bob Dylan songs (in addition to their stellar collection of folk music), the cultural impact of the trio soared. Other artists have covered Dylan (including The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix and The Band) successfully, but this collaboration was special and mutually beneficial. Additionally they were kindred spirits from the Greenwich Village scene.

ORG has re-issued In The Wind on high-speed audiophile vinyl with dazzling results. Side A opens with an original, crisp gospel-based song, “Very Last Day”. So much of the American folk music is steeped in religious context. When you add the shimmering harmonies of Peter Paul And Mary, (and here, especially on the chorus), the sound transcends the structure. Returning to traditional folk material, “Hush-A-Bye” (also known as “All The Pretty Little Horses”) is a simple lullaby with Travers singing lead. What is not so conventional is the probable origin of the song. It is associated with a slave’s lament of not being able to nurture her baby, having to care for her master’s child. Although the sound of Peter Paul And Mary is polished, there are haunting references in their interpretations. Shifting to up-tempo mode, “Long Chain On” has some bluesy grit. The vocal progression from single lead, two-part and ultimately three-part harmony (mostly in the refrain) is compelling. On “Polly Von”, the heart-wrenching tale of a bowman’s errant arrow with its meditative dark imagery is in stark contrast to the lush vocals. There is a catchy descending chord guitar solo that gives additional texture.

Side Three begins with a pure country waltz, “Stewball”. The subject of horseracing (a staple in many roots genres) utilizes some droning harmonies and anecdotal imagery (“…he never drank water, he always drank wine…”) in a clever mixture. Always political, the trio is capable of contemporizing older songs. The social undertone of “All My Trials” (“…if religion were a thing that money could buy, the rich would live and the poor would die…”) fit the Sixties counterculture.

Peter Paul And Mary gained prominence in some part for their Dylan covers. In The Wind boasts two memorable cuts: “Don’t Think Twice. It’s Alright” is the quintessential match between composition and singers. Maintaining the same tempo and whimsy of Dylan’s version, the song builds a vocal texture. The first verse is without harmony, but as the track unfolds, the vocal blending expands. The addition of harmonies never sidetracks the storytelling nuances. Just as powerful is the iconic version of “Blowin’ In The Wind”. Between the 1963 March On Washington and the 1964 Grammy award, Peter Paul And Mary and Bob Dylan, were intertwined serendipitously.

Original Recording Group’s 45-rpm re-mastering of In The Wind is superb. The pristine clarity, stereo separation and tonal warmth exceed standard CD quality. The album’s back cover features the stream-of-consciousness liner notes by Dylan and photos of Peter Paul And Mary in Washington D.C. and Greenwich Village.

TrackList:
Side A: Very Last Day; Hush-A-Bye; Long Chain On
Side B: Rocky Road; Tell It On The Mountain; Polly Von
Side C: Stewball; All My Trials; Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Side D: Freight Train; Quit Your Lowdown Ways; Blowin’ In The Wind

—Robbie Gerson




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