Ballad for Americans

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
In the absence of a multi-label Paul Robeson box, this 22-song CD is a superb account of the singer's late career, with one major work from his pre-blacklist years represented as well. In the late '50s, Robeson, like the Weavers -- who also were persona non grata at the major labels due to their leftist political views -- began recording for Vanguard Records, a New York-based independent label that wasn't afraid of controversial artists. These sides captured his last great years as an artist and reminded the public that the singer had not been silenced, despite his decade in the artistic wilderness. The material ranges from spirituals "Deep River," "Go Down, Moses", work ...
See more details below
CD
$15.64
BN.com price
(Save 13%)$17.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (CD)
  • All (7) from $3.47   
  • New (4) from $13.18   
  • Used (3) from $3.47   

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
In the absence of a multi-label Paul Robeson box, this 22-song CD is a superb account of the singer's late career, with one major work from his pre-blacklist years represented as well. In the late '50s, Robeson, like the Weavers -- who also were persona non grata at the major labels due to their leftist political views -- began recording for Vanguard Records, a New York-based independent label that wasn't afraid of controversial artists. These sides captured his last great years as an artist and reminded the public that the singer had not been silenced, despite his decade in the artistic wilderness. The material ranges from spirituals "Deep River," "Go Down, Moses", work songs "Water Boy", sea shanties "Shenandoah", classical compositions "Jerusalem", and traditional Irish and English folk songs "Londonderry Air" to once-topical and still relevant songs such as Earl Robinson's "The House I Live In" made famous in the mid-40s by Lauritz Melchior, Josh White, and Frank Sinatra. Robeson's voice is rougher and harder than it was in his prime, but he makes up for his lack of range with outstanding enunciation and projection, and he is equally impressive on the numbers done with solo piano accompaniment and those arranged for orchestra and chorus by Robert Decormier. The highlight of this collection, however, is the title track, "Ballad for Americans," which Vanguard can justifiably be said to have rescued from oblivion in the RCA-Victor catalog. Clocking in at ten minutes, the 1939 recording is a fascinating, still somewhat compelling concept work authored by Earl Robinson and John LaTouche, in which Robeson represents the entire country, all of "the people," in this grand musical canvas, supported by a chorus and a full orchestra. His voice is richer on this cut than on any of the other material here, understandable since it was recorded nearly two decades earlier, and the only drawback is that this piece -- by its nature as an overtly political, patriotic leftist work -- is as much acted as sung. One needed a larger-than-life vocal presence such as Robeson to pull this off. One can only be grateful for Vanguard's foresight in acquiring the quarter-century-old recording for this compilation in its original double-LP format, and to RCA-Victor who were likely only too happy to let it go for whatever money they could get, at the time for permitting its use; the song, although somewhat arch and pretentious at times, is a vivid reminder of the era in which Robeson made his name, and great battles for the hearts and minds of audiences were being fought daily. The sound on the Vanguard original recordings is excellent, despite this being one of the earlier LP-to-CD conversions from the catalog; "Ballad for Americans," a much older work recorded during the 78 rpm era, has some noise from its non-tape original source, and more limited audio range than the rest of the material, but is still eminently listenable and, at times, most striking in its structure and sensibilities.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/16/1991
  • Label: Vanguard Records
  • UPC: 015707011723
  • Catalog Number: 117/18
  • Sales rank: 8,074

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Paul Robeson Primary Artist, Vocals
Alan Booth Piano
Nat Shilkret Conductor
Harriet Wingreen Piano
Milt Okum Conductor
Technical Credits
Hubert Parry Composer
Robert DeCormier Arranger
Captain Jeff Zaraya Engineer
Victor Symphony Orchestra Contributor
Avery Robinson Composer
American People's Chorus Contributor
Traditional Composer
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously