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The Hillside Singers: I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing

[cover art]

1972 LP from 9-piece folk group the Hillside Singers, with a cover of The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Reissued twice by Folk Era Records on CDs with bonus tracks in May 2004 (I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, HSI1470D, and the 2-CD set I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (The Complete Hillside Singers), HSI1467D.)

The Hillside Singers hit the Top 15 in December of 1971 with "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" before the group that actually performed on the Coca Cola commercial, the New Seekers. And though this album was built to cash in on the very popular tune, it is surprisingly stronger than what the New Seekers issued after their single went Top Ten and gold the week after the rendition included here charted. Producer Al Ham has his wife, Mary Mayo, and their daughter, Lori Ham, singing along with seven others: brothers Rick Shaw and Ron Shaw, two brothers and two sisters from the Marino clan, and Susan Wiedenmann, no doubt related to executive producer Jack Wiedenmann. The nine voices blend together perfectly on traditional tunes like "Amen" and "Kumbaya," credited to Al Ham, Mayo, and the Shaw brothers, while they also take on a McDonald's commercial, "We're Together," probably trying to see if lightning could strike twice. The beauty of this album is that it doesn't have the flaws that the repackaged New Seekers album contained. Perhaps because of touring demands, the established group had to slap an album together; the Hillside Singers, on the other hand, sound like they are simply having fun. They do a great job on Paul Williams' "Old Fashioned Love Song" and credible versions of Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Day By Day" from Godspell, Pete Seeger's "One Man's Hands," John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," and a couple of other titles. Outside of the intro on "Tomorrow Belongs to Me,"there are no soaring lead vocals from any one individual ala the 5th Dimension, or the New Seekers for that matter, opting instead for a coed Lettermen sound or a folksy tribute to the Ray Conniff Singers. Indeed, the late Ray Conniff covered the hit song and titled an album after it, as did the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Lea Salonga, and the Jordanaires. It's too bad the Hillside Singers couldn't capitalize on their fleeting fame, as they put together an inoffensive and lighthearted collection of melodies to go along with their brief moment in the sun.

--Joe Viglione, All-Music Guide


  1. I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing In... (Backer/Coor/Davis/Greenaway)
  2. One Man's Hands (Comfort/Seeger)
  3. Take Me Home, Country Roads (Danoff/Denver/Nivert)
  4. Day by Day (Schwartz)
  5. We're Together (Gavin/Ham/Kipner/Wotoshin)
  6. Old Fashioned Love Song (Williams)
  7. Kum Ba Yah (Ham/Mayo/Shaw)
  8. The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down (Robertson)
  9. Tomorrow Belongs to Me (Ebb/Kander)
  10. Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (McCurdy)
  11. Amen (Traditional)

The Hillside Singers - I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing - 1972 - Metromedia 1051

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