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Brothers Four
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What the Press Says...

Greenfields And Other Gold
Album Review

Greenfields and Other Gold, subtitled 20 All Time Great Folk Hits, lives up to its billing, with 20 songs that anyone who knows folk music will know and love, all distinctively rendered by the Brothers Four, and clearly showing why their popularity has endured for nearly 40 years! Whether the songs were hits for the Brothers Four, like the title track, or simply hits from the folk revival, each song brings back a wellspring of memory to those who remember, and creates a new memory for those who don't already know - the Brothers Four are one of the greatest acts, not just of the folk era, but of any era.


The Tokyo Tapes: Live in Japan
Album Review
1997 sees the release of two albums on Folk Era; The Tokyo Tapes and Greenfields and Other Gold.

The Tokyo Tapes is a two disc live concert set that features many of their best known songs, and an equal amount of new material, all recorded in Tokyo, Japan, and showcasing their appeal in front of a live audience. From their classics to several songs sung in Japanese, to a medley of Railroad songs, A Bluegrass Medley, an American Songs Medley, a Calypso Medley, and a medley of the songs from Man Of La Mancha, there' something for everyone amongst the Brothers Four's rich harmonies on The Tokyo Tapes.


The Tokyo Tapes: Live in Japan
This 1996 concert recording is as good a record as the Brothers Four -- yes, the same group that started out in 1958, with two original members still on board -- have ever done. Indeed, it's an astonishing record, for one simply doesn't expect any popular performing group near the 40th year of existence (as the Brothers Four were when this album was recorded) to make music on this level of accomplishment or immediacy. What's more, it intersects surprisingly little with the repertory off either of the group's early '60s live LPs, but plays to some unexpected and extraordinary strengths. "The Green Leaves of Summer" and "Greenfields" are present, but a lot of the rest ranges far from the group's classic repertory, to numbers like "500 Miles", "Scarlet Ribbons", "Where Have All The Flowers Gone", and other songs associated with rival folk acts of the same period. The quartet also extends themselves far beyond their own classic time-line, harmonizing beautifully on Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans" and Roy Acuff's "Wabash Cannonball", as well as "This Train", all of which are part of a railroad medley that ends with a spirited "Rock Island Line".

Another surprise is their bluegrass medley -- no one expects the Brothers Four to be virtuosi on the level of Flatt & Scruggs, and they're not, but they give such loving renditions of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Mountain Dew" (coming out of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" and "Darlin' Corey"), that it's a very moving experience just the same. Equally compelling is their bold rendition of "Whiskey In The Jar" (a song that may be more familiar to Peter, Paul & Mary fans as "Gilgarra Mountain"), which is also a brilliant showcase for Mark Pearson's cascading banjo playing. Disc Two focuses somewhat more on their love of gospel and Calypso music, and even the opening American medley is so sweetly played and sung that it's hard not to love it, even if there are more inventive ways of singing "Saints Go Marching In". "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" is performed with the kind of fervor that makes one feel it's almost a new song, and "Greenfields" isn't far behind. Good as some of the reissues of their classic early '60s material are, The Tokyo Tapes may be the best place for interested listeners to start enjoying their work.

- Bruce Eder - All Music Guide

 

 


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