The Best Folk Music Compilations

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A comprehensive list of the best folk music compilations, perfect for anyone looking to explore the genre or expand their collection.

The Best Folk Music Compilations

Folk music has been around for centuries and has been a big part of many cultures. There are many different types of folk music, but some of the most popular are Celtic, Appalachian, and British Isles. Folk music is often passed down from generation to generation, and it is a great way to connect with your heritage. If you are interested in learning more about folk music, then these compilations are a great place to start.

The Best of the Vanguard Years

Between 1961 and 1965, Vanguard Records released some of the most influential folk music compilations of the 20th century. The Best of the Vanguard Years captures the essential songs from those seminal albums, including “We Shall Overcome” by Joan Baez, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Bob Dylan, and “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. These songs defined a generation and continue to resonate with folk music fans today.

The Best of the Smithsonian Folkways Years

The Smithsonian Folkways Years was a pivotal time for the label, during which they released some of the most important and influential folk music compilations of all time. This list features the cream of the crop from that golden era, including canonical works by Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, and many more.

The Best of the Elektra Years

The late 1950s and early 1960s were a renaissance for folk music, and Elektra Records was at the forefront of the folk revival. The label was home to some of the genre’s most influential artists, including Joan Baez, Odetta, Judy Collins, and Phil Ochs. Elektra’s folk compilations are some of the best-curated collections of folk music ever released, highlighting both well-known classics and lesser-known gems.

The Best of the Elektra Years is a 4-CD box set that collects 64 tracks from the label’s vaunted folk catalogue. The set features both solo performers and groups, including The Weavers, The Doors, and Simon & Garfunkel. These are some of the most essential tracks in the Elektra folk canon, and they are presented here in chronological order, beginning with Baez’s legendary Version 1.0 recording of “House of the Rising Sun” and ending with Collins’ gorgeous rendition of “Send in the Clowns.” In between, there are plenty of other highlights, including Ochs’ searing “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” Odetta’s rousing “This Little Light of Mine,” and The Doors’ final recording with Jim Morrison, “Roadhouse Blues.”

The Best of the Elektra Years is an essential collection for any fan of folk music. It captures a moment in time when the genre was undergoing a resurgence, thanks to the work of some of its most gifted practitioners. If you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of Elektra’s contributions to the folk revival, this is the set for you.

The Best of the Folk Revival

The folk revival of the 1950s and ’60s brought traditional songs to a whole new audience. The best folk music compilations are a great way to explore this rich musical tradition. From the early days of the revival to more recent releases, these compilations offer a wide range of sounds and styles.

The Best of the Newport Folk Festivals

The Newport Folk Festival is an American annual folk-oriented music festival in Newport, Rhode Island, which began in 1959 as a counterpart to the previously established Newport Jazz Festival. The festival highlights traditional as well as contemporary musicians.

The Best of the Greenwich Village Folk Scene

The Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1950s and 1960s was the breeding ground for some of the most iconic performers of the folk revival. The best folk music compilations offer a great way to explore this incredible period in music history.

The Weavers were one of the most popular and influential groups to come out of the Greenwich Village scene. They popularized many traditional folk songs, including “Goodnight, Irene” and “On Top of Old Smokey.” The Weavers’ influence can be heard in the work of subsequent generations of folk musicians, including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Another group that played a major role in the folk revival was Peter, Paul and Mary. They were known for their beautiful harmonies and their renditions of classics like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Peter, Paul and Mary helped to bring folk music to a mainstream audience and played a major role in making it into the social force it is today.

The Anthology of American Folk Music, released by Folkways Records in 1952, was a major force in bringing attention to the genre. The anthology compiled recordings from some of the most important artists of the early 20th century, including Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lead Belly, Aunt Molly Jackson, and Woody Guthrie. These recordings served as an inspiration for many folk musicians who would come after them.

If you’re interested in exploring the Greenwich Village folk scene, these compilations are a great place to start.

The Best of the Chicago Folk Scene

The early 1960s saw a revival of interest in traditional music forms including folk music. This led to the rise of folk music clubs and folk music festivals across the country, including in Chicago. The Chicago folk scene was particularly strong, with a number of influential clubs and festivals featuring both local and national acts. This compilation features some of the best-known performers from the Chicago folk scene, including Bob Gibson, Peter, Paul and Mary, and The Weavers.

The Best of the British Folk Scene

The folk music scene in Britain is thriving, with more and more people getting interested in this genre of music. If you’re looking for a compilation of some of the best folk music out there, look no further. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best folk music compilations that are available.

The Best of the Fairport Convention Years

The Fairport Convention Years is a compilation album of material recorded by Fairport Convention during their formative years from 1967 to 1975. It includes tracks from their first five albums, as well as previously unreleased material. The album was released in 1976 by Island Records in the UK and by A&M Records in the US. It was reissued on CD in 1993 by Island, with four bonus tracks.

The Best of the Steeleye Span Years

Steeleye Span was one of the most popular and influential British folk rock bands of the 1970s. Formed in 1969, the band combined traditional British folk music with rock and roll to create a unique and accessible sound. They had a string of hits in the UK and US, including “All Around My Hat” and “Rave On.” The band’s albums are considered some of the best of the genre, and they continue to influence folk musicians today.

The Best of the Pentangle Years

The British folk scene of the 1960s and 1970s was a breeding ground for some of the finest musicians in the world. Among them were the members of Pentangle, who released a string of classic albums during their time together.

This compilation brings together some of the best tracks from Pentangle’s albums, including ‘Basket of Light’, ‘Solomon’s Seal’ and ‘Sweet Child’. Also included are two previously unreleased tracks, ‘Sally Go Round the Roses’ and ‘Lord Franklin’, which showcase the group’s superb musicianship.

With its mix of traditional folk songs and original compositions, this collection is a perfect introduction to the work of Pentangle and a fitting tribute to their place in the history of British folk music.

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