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Fast Folk: A Community of Singers and Songwriters

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Disc 1 of 2
01
American Jerusalem
Artist: Rod MacDonald
5:58
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02
What's Wrong with the Man Upstairs?
Artist: David Massengill
4:38
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03
Old Factory Town
Artist: Gerry Devine
5:12
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04
You Just Need a Home (Spotlight)
Artist: Lucy Kaplansky
3:38
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05
Another Time and Place
Artist: Dave Van Ronk
4:31
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06
I Don't Know Why
Artist: Shawn Colvin
3:45
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07
Geza's Wailing Ways
Artist: John Gorka
3:53
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08
Ragman!
Artist: David Indian
4:03
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09
High Times
Artist: Tom Intondi
4:36
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10
Don't Ever Call Your Sweetheart by His Name
Artist: Christine Lavin
2:21
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11
Where Were You Last Night?
Artist: Frank Christian
4:19
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12
Introduction to Corpo Gacile
Artist: Germana Pucci
0:28
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13
Corpo Gacile
Artist: Germana Pucci
5:13
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14
Kilkelly, Ireland
Artist: Laura Burns and Roger Rosen
5:58
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15
Introduction to The Viking Rag
Artist: Erik Frandsen
1:32
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16
The Viking Rag
Artist: Erik Frandsen
2:37
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17
Forget-Me-Not
Artist: Jack Hardy
4:20
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18
Vacation
Artist: Ensemble
2:42
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Disc 2 of 2
01
Gypsy
Artist: Suzanne Vega
4:16
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02
Thirty Thousand Men
Artist: Steve Forbert
4:31
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03
Margaret
Artist: Frank Tedesso
4:04
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04
Share the Failure
Artist: Elaine Silver
2:55
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05
Bourbon as a Second Language
Artist: Patrick John Brayer
3:47
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06
King of Hearts
Artist: Paul Kaplan
4:10
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07
Heart on Ice
Artist: Judith Zweiman
5:04
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08
The Courier
Artist: Richard Shindell
5:00
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09
By Your Eyes
Artist: Wendy Beckerman
3:22
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10
Danton
Artist: Lillie Palmer
4:27
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11
Long Black Wall
Artist: Michael Jerling
4:27
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12
Railroad Bill
Artist: Andy Breckman
3:32
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13
Gravedigger
Artist: Richard Julian
3:18
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14
January Gold
Artist: Richard Meyer
5:11
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15
Disenchanted
Artist: Eric Wood
4:37
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16
Raphael
Artist: Hugh Blumenfeld
3:35
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17
Your Face
Artist: Louise Taylor
3:18
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18
Crazy Horse
Artist: Josh Joffen and Late for Dinner
3:18
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Album Information

Total Tracks: 36   Total Length: 142:36

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They Say All Music Guide

From the early ’80s to the late ’90s, Fast Folk magazine was an important document of and voice for the folk-rooted New York singer/songwriter scene. The magazines came with compilation albums — no less than 105 of them — allowing subscribers and purchasers to sample the work of many young and unknown, and some veteran and relatively well-known, singer/songwriters. The magazine stopped publishing in 1997, its holdings donated to the Smithsonian a couple of years later. This first retrospective of the massive body of Fast Folk is a 34-track, two-CD set including 142 minutes of music spanning 1982-1997. Some of the performers are famous, like Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin (represented by a 1985 version of her “I Don’t Know Why”), Dave Van Ronk, and Steve Forbert; others are fairly well known, like Christine Lavin, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky, and Christine Lavin. But most of these names will be unfamiliar, even to many folk fans. And while the music is often acoustic folk, sometimes solo, it’s sometimes mild folk-rock with fuller arrangements, too. Fast Folk was undoubtedly a valuable organization and medium for exposure, but good intentions don’t always make for great music. Most of this is earnest confessional and/or narrative material, on the undistinguished side melodically, lacking the idiosyncratic and arresting vocal personalities of the best singer/songwriters — and not just Bob Dylan, an obvious reference point for much of this style (though these performers are on the whole far more polite than Dylan), but even Dave Van Ronk, though his “Another Time and Place” wouldn’t be considered one of his best performances. What are the best performances on this disc, though? Elaine Silver’s “Share the Failure” has the pristine seriousness of the sort heard on early Judy Collins and Joan Baez outings; Patrick John Brayer’s “Bourbon as a Second Language” has a refreshing country-influenced lightheartedness; Germana Pucci’s “Corpo Gracile,” sung in Italian, has a gypsy feel; Christine Lavin’s “Don’t Ever Call Your Sweetheart By His Name” has her usual comic touch that, while hard to take in concentrated doses, stands out on this comp as a welcome blast of levity. Comic relief’s not always a good thing, though, as demonstrated by the bombastic crude wit of Andy Breckman’s “Railroad Bill.” – Richie Unterberger

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