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Civil War Songs Of The South
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  • Civil War Songs of the South was one of two albums of Civil War songs recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford during 1961 (the other being Civil War Songs of the North), as part of the national fixation on the War Between the States on the occasion of the centenary of the conflict. Ford sings these straight and with sincerity, pushing the richness of his baritone to breathe fresh life into the 100-year-old songs, and giving them an immediacy that is bracing in this setting, surrounded mostly by a robust male chorus and accompanied by fife and drums (in keeping with the military orientation of the music), and restrained brass. The highlight, showcasing Ford's most affecting performance and his richest vocalizing, is on "Lorena" (a melody that filmgoers will recognize from its use in several John Ford films), supported by mandolin as well as strings and gentle male chorus; "The Bonnie Blue Flag," "Dixie," and "The Southern Wagon" also come off exceptionally well here, and the whole album is still a treat. This LP was a hit at the time, selling well enough to stay in print for a decade, whereas its northern counterpart could only muster enough sales to remain in the catalog for three years. ~ Bruce Eder
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