Ed McCurdy was a mainstay of Elektra during the 50’s. An actor and broadcaster, McCurdy cut his first album in the early 50s before arriving in New York in 1954 where he began recording regularly for a number of independent folk labels, contributing to Elektra anthologies Bad Men And Heroes and Sings Songs Pro/Con before coming to Jac Holzman with an idea for a collection based on Wit And Mirth: Or, Pills To Purge Melancholy, a collection of songs edited by Thomas D’Urfey and dating from the early 18th century.
McCurdy and Holzman conjured a concept that was released under the title When Dalliance Was In Flower And Maidens Lost Their Heads. The performances were light-hearted but seriously done and with a Renaissance flavour in their instrumentation. The tone was gently risqué with plenty of mild innuendo and the Dalliance series was rapidly adopted by college students in particular. Elektra sold tens of thousands from the outset and McCurdy repeated the formula on three further Dalliance albums.
Ed McCurdy’s final Elektra release came in 1961 with the more respectful A Treasure Chest Of American Folk Song although his serious work was overshadowed by the success of his bawdy song collections. McCurdy is also remembered for his 1950 composition ‘Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream’, one of the earliest and most expressive anti-war songs later recorded by Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Simon & Garfunkel, among others.