Peter, Paul & Mary – Carry It On

Wholesome, Dylan-loving folkies reassessed over four CDs Every bit as manufactured as any modern pop band, Peter, Paul & Mary were svengali manager Albert Grossman's attempt to capitalise on the success of The Kingston Trio, late-'50s progenitors of neatly-pressed folk music, whose 1958 chart-topper "Tom Dooley" kickstarted the folk revival. Cannily realising the potential of an equivalent folk trio featuring a sexy blonde, Grossman assembled solo folkie Peter Yarrow, stand-up comic Paul Stookey and off-Broadway actress Mary Travers, and was rewarded with instant success.

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Wholesome, Dylan-loving folkies reassessed over four CDs Every bit as manufactured as any modern pop band, Peter, Paul & Mary were svengali manager Albert Grossman’s attempt to capitalise on the success of The Kingston Trio, late-’50s progenitors of neatly-pressed folk music, whose 1958 chart-topper “Tom Dooley” kickstarted the folk revival.

Cannily realising the potential of an equivalent folk trio featuring a sexy blonde, Grossman assembled solo folkie Peter Yarrow, stand-up comic Paul Stookey and off-Broadway actress Mary Travers, and was rewarded with instant success. Less threatening than pinko Pete Seeger and better-turned-out than most of their troubadour contemporaries, they became the definitive face of folk music, with early PP&M staples like “Lemon Tree”, “500 Miles”, and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” becoming the standard repertoire of the ’60s folk boom. Their major breakthrough came with children’s song “Puff The Magic Dragon”?lent added cachet through spurious rumours (probably started by Grossman) that it was a drug song?and Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”, both of which reached No 2 in the US singles chart.

They continued to cover songs by Dylan?whom Grossman quickly added to his artist roster?but were rapidly deposed by him as reigning folk monarch, and struggled to keep pace with his mercurial talent as he welded folk to rock. They tried to modernise and keep pace with the rapidly-changing scene, but songs such as “I Dig Rock’n’Roll Music” with its impressions of The Beatles and The Mamas & The Papas, and lyrics like “The message may not move me/Or mean a great deal to me/But, hey, it feels so groovy to say/I dig rock’n’roll music”, seemed crass and insincere, alienating old folkie diehards and failing to persuade the young rock vanguard of their hipness. Thereafter, they always seemed old and staid, an impression confirmed when they had their only No 1 hit in 1969 with John Denver’s “Leaving On A Jet Plane”. This four-CD set charts their rise, fall, dissolution and several subsequent reunions in rather over-enthusiastic detail.

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