Angel Band is an eclectic collection of mid 19th century songs. These were songs found over a few years of digging through university library files, thousands of pieces of sheet music and scores of songbooks published before 1865. The CD has no overall theme, but a large part of it is presenting songs that are known today in a different format. For example, the title song is noted in the novel Cold Mountain as being from the 1870's, yet it is on the Ken Burns Civil War Soundtrack. Burns selects music by the feeling of the song, and not always by historical context, so the inclusion of this song in his sound track means little. It turns out that the song was originally published in 1860 as The Land of Beulah, with only minor melody changes. So the song is presented here in it's 1860's format. Wayfaring stranger too is played as it was written in Cabin and Plantation Melodies, published in 1873, songs collected by Thomas Fenner from the slaves. This is somewhat different from the version everyone knows today recorded originally by Burl Ives. Reenactor favorites, The Mermaid and Wild Rover are presented here as they were found in pre-war songbooks. The mermaid has a different melody, and the Wild Rover has somewhat different lyrics. The versions of these that most people know are from 20th century Irish bands. The balance of the CD is rounded out with songs of various styles. Some of these I considered too important to not be recorded by anyone. The Camp War Song (Co Ca Che Lunk) was one of the great Union campfire songs, and yet it is ignored today. The Enlisted Men is the song that provided the title to Noah Trudeau's fine book Like Men of War. Here is the complete version of this song, so important to the black troops in the Army of the Potomac. For Civil War historians, these two songs alone are worth the price of the CD. Sentimental songs are represented by the beautiful Call Me Not Back, and Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still. Juanita is a romantic song as popular with the Southern troops as Lorena was, yet is largely unknown today. Included are a few minstrel songs, to illustrate this popular musical form. The selections on this CD show that not all the minstrel fare was blatantly offensive; it was the rock music of the day... wildly popular, and sometimes, but not always, in poor taste. Angel Band is a 53 minute trip back through time that will add color to the stiff black and white photos we judge the people of this time by.
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