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Ballad for Americans


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Audio CD, September 16, 1991
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Ballad for Americans + Songs of Free Men / A Paul Robeson Recital + Best of Paul Robeson
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 16, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Vanguard Records
  • ASIN: B000000ECS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,199 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Shenandoah
2. Deep River
3. Go Down, Moses
4. On My Journey
5. Water Boy
6. The Minstrel Boy
7. Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)
8. Loch Lomond
9. Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho
10. Get On Board, Little Children
11. Scandalize My Name
12. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
13. Eriskay Love Lilt
14. Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal
15. Mexican Lullaby
16. All Through the Night
17. Jerusalem
18. Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
19. The Four Rivers
20. John Brown's Body
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

Legendary American actor/concert performer Paul Robeson sings as deep as a well and as wide as an ocean on the reissue of Ballad for Americans. His unmistakable bass-baritone makes the rafters ring on this excellent, eloquent collection of spirituals, work songs, folk songs, and pop tunes. The epic 10-minute title track--composed by Earl Robinson and John LaTouche--is a compendium of American musical forms and a celebration of American spirit, delivered in a call-and-response style that finds Robeson playing a true everyman to the questioning crowd. His patriotism--as rich and complex as his voice--is in full flower here; ironic since he was driven to self-exile in Europe during the Red Scare. --Michael Ruby

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By William E. Adams on March 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Paul Robeson made his lasting mark on American life as a singer instead of a politician, actor, lawyer or pro athlete primarily because it was ONLY as a singer that America offered lasting and quality opportunities. He came to manhood in the 1920's...when blacks were mostly unwanted in courtrooms, in public office, on the pro team rosters, on the screen or stage in meaningful, dignified parts. But as a concert singer, holding the stage by himself with a little help from a pianist, the entire repertoire of song, all kinds, was available. And he performed all kinds, well. This CD has some of his best recorded work...Shenandoah, On My Journey, Water Boy, Loch Lomond, Joshua Fought the Battle, and my first exposure to Robeson, Get On Board, Little Children.To many people, Robeson sounds dated, stark, too often depressing. But if you are in the lucky minority who, once having heard him, are touched emotionally, you don't care that some of his performances were captured all the way back in 1927. Other excellent selections here include Scandalize My Name, Eriskay Love Lilt, All Through the Night, Jerusalem, John Brown's Body, and the dated-for-real but historically fascinating The House I Live In and Ballad for Americans. This is just under an hour of Robeson the Magnificent...a great introduction to this important pioneer performer and civil rights fighter (yes, fighter, not leader.) His radical left political stance alienated or confused as many blacks as whites, and he lived so many of his adult years abroad, where discrimination was less of a problem, that his "fights" for dignity were often solo affairs. However, put the politics aside. If you want a CD collection representing the most important singers of the 20th Century, Robeson has to be in it, and this compilation would be a great choice.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, before Jesse Jackson, there was Paul Robeson. Son of a minister, Phi Beta Kappa and football All-American at Rutgers, he completed law studies at Columbia University. He was a superb actor (his "Othello" was the longest-running Shakespeare play on Broadway to that time), political activist (helped unionize General Motors auto works and Welsh miners), linguist (spoke 20 languages), and communist (supporter of Soviet Union) - unfortunately, his strong stand on behalf of the Soviet Union brought down his career during the McCarthyism of the 1950s. However, he is best known to the public as a singer, a true bass of extraordinary presence and power. Probably best known for his vocalization of "Old Man River" from the musical "Showboat", Robeson made all of his performances, from classical to folk to ethnic to pop, his own.
Robeson puts his mark on all of these songs - particularly "Shenandoah", "Danny Boy", and other folk songs. The "Ballad for Americans" is a tour-de-force. The arrangement is a bit dated, but the message is clear, and no one can deliver it better than Robeson.
In the wake of the freedom movements of the 60s, Robeson became a forgotten figure, disabled by illness and stigmatized by his communist views. However, his magnificent voice bears testament to his contribution to the evolution of freedom and civil rights.
For more information on this truly extraordinary human being, see the PBS video "Here I Stand".
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Fox on October 29, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Paul Robeson was one of the greatest singers of the century (apart from his other accomplishments), but this album does not show Robeson at his best. This was his first commercial recording after eight years on the blacklist. Robeson was sixty years old and had lost the range and clarity displayed in his earlier recordings. On the other hand his spirit shines through. Simply put, after Robeson's voice had weakened he was STILL one of the greatest singers of his time.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Another Tired English Major on January 22, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I love this collection! What a powerful, evocative voice! My favorite is "The House I Live In." He makes so clear the hope and wistfulness and determination to make everybody's home town, and all of America, deserving of the great promise of our Constitution. It's a great lead in to "Ballad for Americans."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Graham Hyatt on March 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
As a tremendous fan of Paul Robeson - I regard him as the greatest singer of all time - I have to say that whilst this CD gives some idea of his wonderful voice, it is by no means the best. In fact, my giving it 4 stars is too generous based upon the songs on the disk. If it were possible, I'd make it three-and-a-half stars, and still feel a little generous, when comparing Ballad for Americans with, "Green Pastures," "Big Fella," "Paul Robeson" (the CD), and "The Voice of the Mississippi," all of which really do merit 5 stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Kalm on February 3, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"Ballad for Americans" was performed during that unusual time in US history after the war had started in Europe, but before we got involved. The original radio broadcast live audience gave the performance a grand standing ovation. Whatever your political inclinations, or lack thereof, "Ballad for Americans" is one of the most moving patriotic songs. I listened to it many times right after 9/11/01 as a way to reinforce my love for this diverse, fantastic country of our...warts and all. This is a must for anyone's Paul Robeson collection.
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