Dave Van Ronk albums tend to be few and far between, but his profile in record stores may have been raised by the release of two reissues in 1972, both of them called "Van Ronk". (The one on Fantasy Records contained two LPs previously released by Prestige; the one on Polydor compiled material previously released by Mercury.)
So, here he is on Cadet Records, and he begins by revisiting the first song on his first album, "Duncan & Brady," which led off 1959's "Dave Van Ronk Sings Blues, Ballads & a Spiritual". But here it's given a folk-rock arrangement, with an electric guitar, electric bass, piano, and drums augmenting the acoustic guitar. Other arrangements are quieter (the next song, Len Chandler's "Green Rocky Road," has a bass thumping along beneath what sound like two fingerpicked guitars, but nothing else), but Van Ronk has made his point that this is not a folk-blues album.
He also deliberately mixes up the material, combining the songs of Joni Mitchell ("River," but not her "Songs for Aging Children," despite the album title) and Randy Newman ("Sail Away") with Brecht/Weill's "As You Make Your Bed"; folk-blues in his old manner (the Reverend Gary Davis' "Candy Man"); R&B ("Work with Me Annie"); novelties ("Teddy Bear's Picnic" and "My Little Grass Shack [In Kealakekua, Hawaii]"); and even a couple of originals that close either side of the LP. "Song for Joni" is a gently sung but desperate reflection on a world overrun by rats, while "Last Call" appropriately sounds like a song to be sung by a drunken man right before the bar closes. This is a varied set, as if Van Ronk were trying to cover a lot of bases against the chance that he might not get another opportunity to record again soon.
- "Duncan & Brady" (Traditional) – 3:48
- "Green Rocky Road" (Len Chandler) – 4:08
- "As You Make Your Bed" (Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill) – 4:21
- "Teddy Bears' Picnic" (Bratton & Kennedy) – 2:22
- "Song for Joni" (Dave Van Ronk) – 2:02
- "Work with Me Annie" (Hank Ballard) – 2:30
- "River" (Joni Mitchell) – 2:45
- "My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii" – 3:35
- "Sail Away" (Randy Newman) – 2:54
- "Candy Man" (Rev. Gary Davis) – 2:43
- "Last Call" (Van Ronk) – 3:07
Dave Van Ronk - Songs For Ageing Children
(320 kbps, cover art included)