- World excluding USA & Canada
- Catalogue Id:
- VMD 79100
“The Weavers’ Almanac” is a studio album the group cut a little while before they disbanded for the final time in 1963. By this time Pete Seeger had been replaced by Erik Darling, although he would very soon depart to form his new trio the Rooftop Singers. The other founding members – Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman and Ronnie Gilbert – remained working until the following year with Bernie Krause. By 1963 the worst excesses of McCarthyism had passed but the Weavers remained committed to delivering songs that drew from their concerns, several of which can be found on this album.
The 12 songs here cover different aspects of the American story. To quote Studs Terkel’s notes in the booklet, “They are pieces of a history, mementos of trial, tribulation, laughter and survival.” The tribulation is most keenly felt on ‘Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?’, which reflects the Great Depression of the 30s, and ‘Which Side Are You On’, which documents the struggles for union recognition in the mining industry. To balance these social concerns, there is humour with ‘We’re All Dodgin’’ and ‘Bill’, both underlining the importance of laughter in life. Then there is an updating of Woody Guthrie’s ‘Jackhammer John’, a song derived from an early minstrel tune, harking back to the 1860s when songs such as ‘Rally Round The Flag’ were part of the revival of the Union armies in the Civil War. To modern ears the most striking songs here are those sung by Ronnie Gilbert. Her clear and expressive voice on ‘When The Stars Begin To Fall’, ‘A-Walkin’ And A-Talkin’’ and the gentle lullaby ‘Bye Baby Bye’ rivals any female folk singer. Perhaps the best summation of the group is found on ‘Fight On’, a simple song to inspire people to continue striving for a batter life for all. Although the group was soon to disband, it was a message the members kept fighting for as they went their separate ways.
Hearing the group singing a studio album is a different experience from listening to their live recordings, but richly rewarding. Their ranks contained so much songwriting, playing and singing talent that it can take an album like this to be fully appreciated.