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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 1999
This is my favorite folk/blues album, especially the first 13 tracks, originally released as "Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger" in the mid 60's (that title was deceptive as the album is mainly ballsy blues!). Van Ronk's raunchy vocals and incredible fingerpicking style guitar are unsurpassed. I wish he had made more bluesy albums like "Dave Van Ronk,Folksinger" and I still hold out hope that he'll do just that someday.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 1998
This album shows Dave Van Ronk at his best. His voice and his styling are perfect for performing these songs, ranging from light and playful to dark and brooding. I'm also a Jackson Browne fan, but I'd much rather hear Van Ronk perform "Cocaine" than Browne.
Especially in these days of overproduced music that still manages to sound redundant or derivative, Dave Van Ronk is "the real deal," to borrow Buddy Guy's signature phrase.
Van Ronk was an important influence on subsequent folk singers, and he deserves more recognition than he has received. Buy this album. You'll wonder how you lived without it.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2006
Dave Van Ronk is one of the last "authentic" voices in our musical history. Brilliant, anarchistic, and possibly the best male interpreter of songs in my generation. Everyone who plays guitar, likes the blues, likes guitar, plays the blues... everyone should hear this album.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2006
Dave Van Ronk is probably the best "folk" guitarist/singer to come out of the folk revival of the 1960's. I dont think it would be worth it to compare him to Bob Dylan, because while Bob is a genius songwriter, he is not much of a guitarist and a mediocre singer. Dave Van Ronk is not known for writing songs, and this disk is almost entirely reworkings of older songs. However, at this Dave is amazing. His arrangements are impeccable, giving his dinstinct character to the songs. Cocaine blues, come back baby, stackerlee are a few of the best. I would agree with the other reviewer that the first twelve songs are the best, making up the original abum "dave Van Ronk: Folksinger." The rest of the songs are mainly irish and galic folk style, which may or may not be your thing. However, it is easily worth it for just the first twelve tracks, which alone are the best folk/country blues album to come from the folk revival, at least by a white person. This is a classic.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2006
When I first heard folk music in my youth I felt unsure about whether I liked it or not. As least against my strong feelings about the Rolling Stones and my favorite blues artist such as Howlin' Wolf and Elmore James. Then on some late night radio folk show here in Boston I heard Dave Van Ronk doing "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" (which is included in this selection) and that was it. That old-time gravelly voice (even though I found out later that he was relatively young at that time) still commands my attention in the same way.

The last time I saw Dave Van Ronk perform, after not seeing him for a fairly long period of time, was not a particularly good night as he was pretty sick by that time. Moreover, his politics seemed to have crumbled over time from that of the hardened Trotskyist of his youth going out slay the benighted Stalinists for the soul of the working class. His dedication to leftist politics, as testified to by those who knew him well like Tom Paxton, was well known and passionate. A man who can write an intersting ditty about the notorious Moscow Lubyanka political prison is definitely a political man. Although no one asks a musical performer to wear politics on his or her sleeves as a litmus test, given his status as a prime historian/activist of the folk revival of the 1960's, this was disconcerting.

That folk scene, of which Dave was a central and guiding figure not fully recognized outside a small circle to this day, was not only defined by the search for root music and relevancy but by large political concerns such as civil rights, the struggle against war, and the need for social justice. Some of it obviously was motivated as well as simply a flat out need to make our own mark on the world. Dave was hardly the first person from this period to lose his political compass in the struggle against injustice. I say this with sadness in his case but I will always carry that memory of that late night radio experience in my head. That said, please listen to this man reach under a song. You will not forget it either.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2009
This CD contains songs originally released on "Dave Van Ronk/Folksinger" and "Inside Dave Van Ronk," both 1962. Van Ronk's guitar-playing, IMO, is excellent. There's no point talking about his voice, because like many blues and folk artists, he has a unique sound; you either love him on a personal basis or you don't, but that's a personal choice. On some of these numbers, Van Ronk laid down his guitar and picked up the (mountain) dulcimer or the autoharp. I like the dulcimer selections--he finger-picks the instrument, and it sounds rather like a banjo. Unfortunately, on the three autoharp numbers, Van Ronk didn't push beyond the very beginning level of playing, so they were rather disappointing. A specialist on that instrument could have gotten much more out of it; I wish my long-time idol had stuck with the guitar or even the dulcimer, on which he displayed a very delightful approach.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2010
In retrospect, Dave Van Ronk has been viewed as a kind of father figure to the up and coming folk singers of the Greenwich Village scene of the early 1960's. (Bob Dylan's autobiography "Chronicles" confirms this, in which Dylan remembers raiding Van Ronk's record collection and crashing on his couch as a newcomer to New York city.) Van Ronk's importance as a historian of music cannot be understated: if he had not done his homework on American folk and blues and turned so many of his acolytes on to what he was listening to, would the scene have been the same? It's hard to say. I agree that Van Ronk was a big influence on other musicians at that time; however, in my opinion it is not said enough that he was also an incredible musician in his own right. This disc consists of two separate albums: "Dave Van Ronk/Folksinger" (which features Van Ronk on guitar and vocals) and "Inside Dave Van Ronk" (which features Van Ronk on vocals, 12-string guitar, dulcimer, and autoharp), both recorded in April 1962. Van Ronk's voice was a Tullamore Dew saturated instrument that was accompanied by his precise guitar fingerpicking, and I love the combination of the two. If you can listen to his version of "Fair and Tender Ladies" without feeling moved then I don't know what to tell you. For a beginner to Dave Van Ronk's music this is a perfect start. These two albums give the listener the opportunity to hear the master plow through some standards in his own style, while winning you over in the process. It's not hard to see why so many went and sought out the original recordings after hearing Van Ronk's inspired versions. In fact, I myself ended up doing the same. Dave Van Ronk was one of a kind, and if you are a fan of this CD I would also recommend his albums "Sunday Street" and "Somebody Else, Not Me".
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2007
R.I.P. Dave Van Ronk....I wish I could put the finest flowers on your grave.
I don't think he ever received the credit that he deserved. His folk guitar is clean and brilliant. I love his cotton-picking fact, I used to listen to many of these songs on this CD back in the 60's when this came out on an album-especially "Come Back Baby" and "You've Been A Good Old Wagon" and got to learn how to play them note for note on my guitar like he did. This CD brought tears to my eyes and fond memories of the 60's hippie days when folk music was in its hey-day. I also must give praise to his unique, husky, gritty voice....he just rocks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2014
This is actually a double recording, including the original Dave Van Ronk recording, "DVR: Folksinger" and "Inside DVR." Both were recording when Van Ronk was at the height of his Greenwich Village fame and influence. Twenty-five tracks are presented on one disk, not a bad deal. The content, however, is what distinguishes this album. I bought it after watching "Inside Llewyn Davis," since that Coen Brothers film is allegedly loosely based on Dave's life. I was curious how faithful the actors of that film were to Dave Van Ronk's vocal style and music. Their fidelity is astounding, but then as I played and re-played this album, I was struck by the beauty, purity and power of Van Ronk's guitar and vocals. Many of the classic tunes I remember from the 60's are on this disc, such as "Cocaine," "You've Been a Good Old Wagon," and "He Was a Friend of Mine." Other classic folk songs which influenced the likes of Baez, early Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary demonstrate why so many people covered Dave's material. My own caveat is that the remastering was done quite a few years ago. I believe better digital sound would be possible now. Do not let that caveat prevent you from becoming acquainted or re-acquainted with a true American folk singer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2012
Before buying this CD I'd heard of Dave Van Ronk but had never really heard his music.

I recently read Bob Dylan's autobiography and became interested in checking out some the musicians Dylan cited as being major influences in the 1950s and early 1960s. Dave Van Ronk was one of those influencial musicians Dylan mentioned.

So I bought this early 1960s album to check out Dave Van Ronk's music from the period Bob Dylan first came to prominence. I'm glad I did; this is a very good album.

This is actually a compilation of two Dave Van Ronk albums from 1962: Folksinger and Inside Dave Van Ronk.

This album is just Dave Van Ronk doing vocals and accompanying himself on guitar. There's no back up band. But Van Ronk has a good voice and an interesting guitar style that can carry an entire album. If you like acoustic folk and blues, you should like this album. Van Ronk's vocal and guitar style can be described as being far more authentic and traditional than other leading folk artists from the period, such as the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary, whose producers typically made them sound more sanitized and mainstream.

There's some familiar material here. Cocaine Blues and Stackerlee are standards in the blues/folk genre. Motherless Child is a Blind Willie Johnson song (circa 1930) that was also covered by Eric Clapton on Clapton's 461 Ocean Boulevard album.

Overall a very strong album from an artist cited as a major influence by Bob Dylan, among others. If you want to check out Dave Van Ronk, this would be a good album to start with.
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