This seems to be yet another New Christy Minstrels knock-off, but specifically designed, at least in this release, to romanticize the merry, old post-Civil War south as it pines for the better, shinier antebellum days, at least those pertaining to riverboats. The group even took a four-day journey on one to get a feel for riverboat life. They wanted to feel it. And so these very, very white performers are no doubt highly qualified to deliver “the Civil War lament of a southern Negro who, in the hardships of battle, remembers with a curious melancholy ‘the good old days.’”
But I’m being much too harsh on a group that could produce this kind of amazing song. A corny song, sure, but it gets in your head and you start hearing the rock and roll in it, and POW, you’re sold on it.
And why were they so great? Because Randy Sparks, the same guy who created and ran the New Christy Minstrels ALSO created and ran this group, which was intended to be a “farm team” for the NCM, but actually ended up getting some attention on their own. They appeared on Hullaballoo and entertained President Lyndon B. Johnson!
They record five albums, including this one from 1965, so I’ve got four to keep an eye out for …