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Where’s the REUNION?

December 27, 2014

I grew up with a steady diet of folk music as a child. The Smothers Brothers, John Denver, and The Kingston Trio got a lot of play time, and I enjoyed them very much. The number one act, though, for my folks was Peter, Paul and Mary. I can’t blame them, especially since my parents had the chance to see them live. I liked their sound and personality mix, too. They were fun to watch in concert.

When Mary Travers died in 2009, I started thinking about their music, and soon found myself faced with a musical puzzle regarding the discography. My parents had pretty much all of their albums on record except one. My uncle had made a cassette of this album for my Dad, but it stayed in the rack for some time. One Sunday, my dad put the  album on, and it was a far cry from the acoustic sound we knew. We only listened the one time, and there was only one track that stood out in my mind…an off-kilter love song that featured comedy effects after the bridge. But I could not remember the song’s name or the album.

It turns out I was thinking of the REUNION album, and the off-kilter track was called Ms. Rheingold. Okay, that solved one mystery of the puzzle. But try as I might, I couldn’t hear the song in full online. Amazon released the MP3 album, but only 30 second samples. Still, it was enough confirmation for me. The full song can be heard on YouTube, but the question remained as to why the jump from vinyl to download. So, I read the Amazon user comments, and was shocked to learn that Peter Yarrow said this was their worst album. It was way overdone, and didn’t showcase them the way they were used to.

I have to agree with Peter. The more I listen to the tracks, the more I get where he’s coming from. Like Ms. Rheingold…it’s a catchy melody, and I’m sure they had fun singing it, but just what type of song was it? Country, ragtime, or street corner jug band? The song loses its musical identity the further it goes, so by the time the comedy effects come in, it becomes a jarring mess. I don’t blame the trio, though. The album was a actually produced by someone more used to the world of rock and popular music than  folk, so he probably just didn’t get it. It really was a sad footnote of the trio’s legacy. From what I read, they never commercially came back despite the PBS tributes and specials, and the box sets. I take comfort in the fact that my Dad and Mary Travers have already had a much better REUNION in Heaven

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