To many folk purists, the Kingston Trio was roughly akin to the white-bread '50s pop-rock singer Pat Boone. Where Boone sold millions of records with sanitized versions of R&B; songs, the Trio made it onto the charts in the late '50s and early '60s with what was considered mostly watered-down folk music.
And true enough, there was far more character in the music of such classic folk figures as the Weavers and Pete Seeger than in the records of the Trio, whose initial lineup featured Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds (with John Stewart replacing Guard in 1961).
Historically, however, the Trio deserves some thanks for igniting the '60s folk boom, which led to mainstream acceptance and/or exposure for such noteworthy acts as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Tim Hardin. In the process, the Trio made some richly appealing pop-folk records (including "Sloop John B" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone").
But this beautifully designed four-disc package (which includes almost three dozen previously unreleased selections) is more of a showcase than the average pop fan would ever need.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (e x cellent).