Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and others: Songs of the Spanish Civil War review

(Smithsonian Folkways/Discovery)

The Spanish civil war of 1936-39 attracted tens of thousands of international volunteers to join the fight against Franco and fascism, and included 2,800 Americans in the Lincoln brigade. The conflict had a major impact on the US folk scene, and this intriguing compilation, originally released in the 60s, matches songs recorded by the volunteers themselves against tributes from US folk stars. The first six tracks are from the mid-40s, when Pete Seeger was given army leave to record a powerful lament for Americans killed at the battle of Jarama, and songs in which the Lincoln brigade complained about their food. A second, more rousing song about Jarama is provided by Woody Guthrie. The songs recorded in Spain, some during an air raid, are dominated by a fine German singer Ernst Busch, and include a powerful Brecht-Eisler ballad and praise for the German anti-fascist fighters.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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