Songs Of The Civil War Reviews

Songs Of The Civil War

Impressed by Silbers diverse mix of published songs, parodies and folk ballads, Fascinato contacted Lee Gillette of Capitol Records, suggesting that Tennessee Ernie Ford record an album of this material.

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2 Responses to Songs Of The Civil War Reviews

  • Good Brother Cadfael says:
    27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Even better than I remembered it!, January 15, 2006
    Good Brother Cadfael (Virginia) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Songs Of The Civil War (Audio CD)
    This music was released in July of 1961, a few months after I was born. My mother, who could give Melanie Wilkes a run for her money in her undying love of The Cause, had _Songs of the South_ and, as soon as I learned to use the record player, I was listening to these awesome songs over and over.

    Now that I’m a grownup, I started thinking: I wonder how this album matches up to my recollections. What a treat to find that it was still available, and now on CD! Here’s why I give it five stars:

    1. Ford’s powerful and versatile baritone, which brings the songs, whether tragic, martial or humourous, to life. He is backed by an unobtrusive male chorus which does not distract from the lead singer. I am so sorry that, although Amazon provided a list of the songs, it did not also allow you to hear some of them. One listen and you would want this collection for yourself.

    2. The authentic-sounding instrumentation. You are hearing everything from trumpets to fifes to harmonicas to zithers, with lots of fancy drumwork where appropriate. And the arrangements are not trying to be innovative, which, in this case, is a good thing. I am sure that the arrangements are more sophisticated than they would have been in the period, but they are very enjoyable, all the same.

    3. You can really sing along to these things! Yep, you just won’t be able to help yourself. And the 64-page booklet enclosed will help you out with that. It has all the words and also (in italics) additional verses which TEF does not use. (And, as a Virginian, here’s my one big peeve with this recording: in “Bonny Blue Flag,” TEF leaves out the Virginia verse!)

    4. The 64-page booklet that comes with the CD. Thanks to whoever came up with this! You get the song lyrics (as well as the writers of the words and music) and some helpful background text about the songs. (I enjoyed seeing how many of the tunes were derived from those of earlier folk ballads.) There is also appropriate and interesting period photography scattered throughout the booklet.

    To conclude: it’s a great album and will afford you much listening pleasure!

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  • Lawrence Rapchak says:
    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Cousin Ernie really NAILS it!, June 3, 2008
    Lawrence Rapchak (Whiting, IN United States) –

    This review is from: Songs Of The Civil War (Audio CD)
    A great testament to the artistry of Ernie Ford as well as a document of the great music from the American Civil War era. Ernie’s long-time arranger Jack Fascinato works absolute WONDERS with a small instrumental ensemble, which includes a rousing marching band (“Marching Through Georgia”), banjos, guitars, antiphonal military drums, harmonicas, 3 piccolos for “fifes” (“The Yankee Volunteer”), low clarinets, french horns and tympani to evoke the darkness and intensity of “Virginia’s Bloody Soil” (Fascinato creates a “mini-symphonic” soundscape to paint the horrors of war here), and the brilliant combination of mandolin, bass harmonica, guitar, and bass for the gorgeous (and VERY sentimental) ballad “The Vacant Chair”, which will surely bring a tear to even the most hardened listener.

    What’s amazing is the way in which these performances give us a powerful glimpse into our American past, with rousing marches (which were often adaptations of well-known Irish folk tunes), along with songs by the newly-emerging American popular composers, notably George Root.

    Ernie is equally at home in every aspect of these performances, whether
    it be the grim battle songs, the tender and haunting romantic ballads (“Lorena”, “Rebel Soldier”, etc), the robust and hearty marches (“The Why and the Wherefore” being particularly enjoyable), or the outright nuttiness of “Goober Peas”, “The Valiant Conscript” or either version of “Dixie”. Fascinato’s first-rate instrumentalists (including a tuba player who can really plop out some massive low notes) and small male chorus made up of some of the finest session singers of the day contribute to the overall excellence of this cd, originally released as 2 separate LPS to coincide with the centennial observance of the Civil War.
    Capitol Record’s 1961 sonics are stunningly good—in fact, I have often used “Stonewall Jackson’s Way” as a demo for testing stereo systems, so dynamic, clean and detailed is the sound. First-Rate stuff.

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