Ballads Of The Green Berets

SSgt Barry Sadler

Real Gone Music, 2012

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


During the mid-1960s, the Vietnam War and the anti-war protest movement was gearing up. Dozens of artists such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs were producing music that supported this movement. Into that vortex stepped SSgt. Barry Sadler. His Ballads Of The Green Berets topped the American charts for five weeks. The title song was the number one single release of the year. His music honored those who fought in Vietnam, which set it apart from most of what was being issued at the time. Now, Real Gone Music has reissued that classic album.

Barry Sadler was a member of the United States Special Forces who was wounded in Vietnam during mid-1965. By January 30, 1966, he had recovered and debuted his hit song on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Ed Sullivan Show.

Ballads Of The Green Berets is an album of its time; the music is pertains to heroism, service, courage, and death during the Vietnam War. While the patriotic nature of the music may still have appeal, it is very much an album of the 1960s.

The lyrics are straightforward stories that are supported by simple melodies. It can best be described as a cross between pop and folk. The title song has a precise military beat and it tells about the death of a soldier and the effects upon his wife and son. “The Soldier Coming Home” and “The Trooper’s Lament” are also ballads about the ultimate sacrifice.

“Salute To The Nurses” was an upbeat interlude with a shuffle beat that was a tribute to the nurses who sometimes are forgotten. The humorous “Saigon” and “The Paris Of The East” was about the joys and follies of leave away from the battlefield.

The only bonus track is “The A Team,” which was his only other hit single. It was a tribute to the members of a Green Beret unit and was more sophisticated than most of his music with its smooth, mid-tempo feel.

The sound is clear and is superior to the original vinyl release in that respect. There is a booklet that provides a good biography of Sadler, plus notes about the music.

Sadler would have little commercial success a part from his chart-topping album. He would write a series of successful novels but would be tried for murder and died of complications after being shot in the head during a robbery in Guatemala City at the age of 49.

His lasting claim to fame was his Ballads Of the Green Berets. It is music that inspired heightened emotions at the time of its release and in its own way was just as controversial of much of the anti-war music of the day. It remains a heartfelt tribute to the armed services and the people who served, and it is an excellent trip back in time to a different era.

Rating: B

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