Various Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3

The vanguard of contemporary left wing music and political activism helps out on the final instalment of Appleseed's Seeger series but, while it is tremendous to hear Steve Earle, Billy Bragg and Ani DiFranco sing an updated version of "Bring Them Home" (complete with new verses on Iraq), the lack of more of this style material on the album is an oversight. Instead we are given numerous less inspiring songs sung with Seeger's grandson and even a banjo version of "Jesu. Joy of Man's Desiring." Vol. 3 is a double CD gathering 35 songs and poems that show Seeger's writing is as relevant today as it was half a century ago when McCarthyism almost landed him in jail. Disc one has Seeger singing with friends and disc two is more of a tribute, with artists such as Tom Paxton, Natalie Merchant, Pat Humphries and Janis Ian singing Seeger's tunes. Folk music in the ’50s and ’60s was allowed to be overtly hokey, and it could wear its political heart on its sleeve in the form of passionate editorials. The nature of folk music, and even protest music, has changed drastically since then and while many of these tracks sound updated, it is hard to separate them from the era they were first created. After hearing what Bragg and Wilco did with Guthrie's lost material, one wonders if similar treatment could have been applied here to bring the songs into a contemporary focus. As such, Seeger fans will no doubt delight in Vol. 3 but it is doubtful that many new fans will be won over by the collection. (Appleseed)