Peter, Paul & Mary,
Carry It On
(Warner, 2003)

Get out that pen and paper. It's time for all true fans of folk music to write to Santa. It was released two years ago, but my son and his wife just brought me back this fantastic book/CD set/DVD of the masters and mistress of folk. On four discs, one DVD and 86 pages of text you are invited to step back into a golden age.

Disc one gives us the definitive versions of songs like "Early in the Morning," "500 Miles" and "Lemon Tree," among 23 tracks. "Puff the Magic Dragon" brought this old folkie back three decades and more as I relished those pure voices singing beautiful simple lyrics to a solid but far from overcooked backing. One marvelous surprise was "Gone the Rainbow." Yes, it is the old Irish favourite "Siuil Aroon," but here we have new lyrics including a wonderful image of "tears enough to turn a mill wheel."

The next disc brings us the sweet voices on the stark lyrics of Dylan among others as they get into their stride on some powerful songs with deep messages -- always delivered in a form that makes listening a pleasure.

Another writer closely associated to the performances of Peter, Paul & Mary is, of course, Tom Paxton, who often jokes that most people believe the trio wrote his "Marvelous Toy." It is here along with some lesser-known tracks like the captivating "No Other Name." Who can forget the great "The Song is Love" and their show-stopping live performance of "Day is Done"?

In all you get around 84 songs here that will mesmerize.

The DVD of eight tracks allows you to watch magic in action while you get wonderful background and history on the group in the colourful pages of the book. My one quibble is that lyrics are not printed, but the joy of this trio is that their diction is almost perfect giving you the words very clearly.

This set reminds us of the magic that was the folk boom of the 1960s. If you were there, relive it -- whether you can remember it or not. If you are too young to have experienced it, get this set; it will reveal to you why folk music is such a powerful force. It will also give you a repertoire of top-class tracks -- many of devious simplicity.

by Nicky Rossiter
10 December 2005

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