Many of you will be scratching your heads after reading this DVD's title. Didn't Peter, Paul, and Mary's 25th occur…well, 25 years ago?, you'll ask. Yep, it did, and PBS televised the celebratory concert, but the event was never committed to documentation beyond that. Why that was so, especially given the highly enjoyable nature of the gig, their best ever, is beyond me, but now that it's here, I'm happy to have it. You will be too.
The trio was always gregarious and lighthearted despite some rather heavy songs like this concert's rendition of El Salvador, a pointedly antiwar paean, and their output cannot be faulted, but there was magic present at this outing, and a hell of a lot of it was concentrated in Paul Stookey, who has ever been the solidest wit in the ensemble and its most entertaining component. Too bad Hollywood never picked him up as an actor, as the guy would have made a very good one, a wry gent with a gently elastic face and the ability to embody a variety of overt and subtle emotions and postures.
Not that Mary Travers or Peter Yarrow are chopped liver, y'unnerstand. They put in truly great performances, Yarrow the sentimentalist, Travers kinda the middleman/woman, the midground between her partners, and each song is an absolute delight, the trio at its zenith. I have many of their group and solo LPs but have not seen any of the other DVDs or broadcasts and hafta say I find it very hard indeed to imagine they could possibly outdo this one (which leaves the question: Why on Earth did it take so damned long to get this out?!?!). Working through many of the expected songs (see below), not a moment goes by that isn't affecting, and the crowd enjoys itself immensely from start to finish.
Didja know Stookey wrote the now-standard Wedding Song for the occasion of Yarrow's wedding? Yep, he did, and not only that but he turned it over to the Public Domain Foundation. Lotta heart. More, once you're into it, you'll notice quite a few variations in the repertoire, esp. Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, changes denoting the fact that this congeries of very famous folkers never gave up any least shred of their artistic life, always polishing everything to a finer degree. As Baby Boomers start eyeing the horizon of their upcoming late years (65+), this concert will warm a lot of hearts and bring some very pleasant memories flying back…on a jet plane, of course. And if you've been digging the Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel DVDs that have come out over the last couple of decades, wallowing in times gone by and some of the great music that issued then, Peter, Paul, & Mary: 25th Anniversary Concert is every inch the caliber of those great releases and, dare I day it?, even better. Really, it's that good.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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