Fabled Folk hero Woody Guthrie had the words “This machine kills fascists” scrawled on his guitar. The back photo of the remaster of Pete Seeger’s 1996 Grammy award winning album Pete is a picture of a banjo with the words “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” It an apt metaphor of two of the titans of folk music. Guthrie was the populist and Pete Seeger, the eternal optimist/idealist. In 1996, while the one time prince of Folk music, Bob Dylan was working on his chaotic, chunky masterpiece Time Out of Mind, Seeger was going back into the studio for the first time in a while. The beauty of the deluxe Pete-pak, which features a 1982 DVD concert of Seeger at The Living Music festival, is the purity of the man.
Seeger hadn’t seen the inside of a studio in 17 years. However, the studio was never Seeger’s strong suit. Jazz musician Paul Winter coaxed him r back into the studio after a 17 year hiatus but the studio never was where Seeger thrived was at his best. You can’t interact with studio equipment. Seeger, however, manages his way around a studio quite well and the Pete album is proof of that. A blend of traditional songs and reworked takes on traditional tunes give the album a sing-a-long feel.
Winter, who co-produced the CD with Tom Bates, added more texture to the album by giving Seeger three choirs to play off of. Consequently, they seemed to inspire Seeger’s vocal work. Speaking of Seeger’s work on the album, producer Paul Winter had this to say.
“I think of this album as a ‘Pete Seeger primer’ for the younger generations (…) and a‘grand reunion with Pete’ for the countless number of folks who grew up on Pete Seeger (…) I wanted to produce this album simply because I love Pete’s music (…) I mean to include his singing, his songs, his stories, his great instrumental playing, is passion, his humor, and his kindness.”
As Mr. Winter says, this CD is a good primer for anyone who is interested in Pete Seeger’s work. Timeless and elegant, Seeger’s message and his music never go out of style. Pete stands as a testament to Seeger’s craft. It is a shining ode to his brilliance.,