THE ALMANAC SINGERS
As the German armies marched toward Moscow, Lampell and Saul Mills began preparing an itinerary for an extensive Almanac Singers cross-country tour... Prior to the trip, the Almanacs cut an extensive session for General, a New York independent label that specialized in esoteric music.
John Green, one of the label's owners, was eager to add albums of American pioneer ballads and sea chanteys to his catalog. He asked either Henrietta Yurchenco or Alan Lomax who could best record such material: the Almanacs were recommended for the job. The July 7, 1941 session [Reeves Sound Studios, New York, NY] included seeger, Hays, Lampell, Guthrie and Peter Hawes, a New Hampshire based guitarist and baritone singer wo occasionally sang with the group....
Apparently, the Almanacs had some control over what they were to record. Although the albums were not political, Hays couldn't resist singing "The Dodger Song" which Wally Hille had recently collected from blind Ozark balladeer Emma Dusenberry.... Among the highlights... were a new Guthrie tune, "Hard, Ain't It Hard," and Hays's comic narrative "State of Arkansas."
The group received a $250 advance for both albums. "With this money Mill Lampell bought a big 1932 seven-passenger Buick," Seeger later recalled. "It was a gas hog and an oil hog, but a couple of days later, four of us (Mill, me, Woody and Lee) started west on our grand tour to California."
The General recordings preserve the last recordings made by the first incarnation of the Almanac Singers -- the group that literally defined how American folk and protest music should be sung....
Ronald D. Cohen & Dave Samuelson, liner notes for "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996, pp. 79-80.
PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED OUTTAKE, released 1996: