Two classic Hooker LPs, all digitally re-mastered, 22 solid slabs of dark, leathery, brooding nostalgia. This is the electric blues at its very roots. If there’s still anyone out there reading this magazine who hasn’t at least one Hooker album in their collection, then you’re still a long way from qualifying as a blues aficionado. So this is a good place to start. This stripped-bare, one man and a growling electric guitar (on most tracks) music is the stuff those guys who fled the south for the auto production lines in the north used to listen to.
Notwithstanding one or two isolated exceptions, it wasn’t until the mid-Sixties that independent female voices really began to be heard within the music industry. The feminist movement naturally coincided with the first signs of genuine musical emancipation. In North America, Joan Baez and Buffy Sainte-Marie emerged through the folk clubs, coffee-houses and college campuses to inspire a generation of wannabe female singers and musicians with their strong, independent mentality and social compassion, while the British scene’s combination of folk song revival and the Beatles-led pop explosion saw record company deals for a new generation of pop-folkies including Marianne Faithfull, Dana Gillespie and Vashti Bunyan.
Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. of AMG wrote of the lager 8 disc set: Time-Life's The Folk Years is a massive survey of folk, pop-folk, and folk-rock from the 1950s and 1960s spread out over eight discs. At 15 songs per CD – equaling 120 total – this chronicle offers a healthy sampling of popular folk music covering dozens of known and forgotten singers and bands. The emphasis of the collection is on popular folk and popular music influenced by folk, meaning that most of the songs here charted. This emphasis also gives The Folk Years a broader appeal than the average folk revival compilation, making it as fun as it is educational.
Prior to the early Sixties, folk and pop musicians inhabited largely different worlds. There were folk records that had become crossover pop hits, but in essence there was little or no common ground in terms of instrumentation or ideologies. But in the wake of the British beat/R&B boom (or, if you were in America, the British Invasion) and the emergence of Bob Dylan, such barriers were broken down for good. With British acts making music that, for the first time in nascent pop history, matched the quality of their American counterparts, suddenly everything was grist to the mill and musical cross-pollination was almost de rigueur.