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American Folk Music

Eric Nagler -> Peter Ostrushko


TIM O'BRIEN Sugar Hill 3790 Odd Man In ● CD $17.98
Former Hot Rize member and close personal friend of Red Knuckles, Tim O'Brien is also one of the finest songwriters in country and bluegrass music, as well as one of the music's best and most distinctive vocalists. It is these talents that come to the forefront on Tim's first post-Hot Rize solo effort. He either wrote or co-wrote nine of the songs here, including Hold On To A Dream/ Lone Tree Standing, the reggae-ish One Way Street, and two great torchers Like I Used To/ Every Tear Has A Reason Why. Backed by stalwarts like Jerry Douglas, Nick Forster, and Mark Schatz, the album has a much different feel than Tim's other work. But this disc holds its own rewards, particularly if you are a fan of finely crafted original songs. (RP)

TIM AND MOLLIE O'BRIEN Sugar Hill 3804 Remember Me ● CD $17.98
There's nothing quite like family harmonies and this brother-sister duo is among the most compelling in traditional music. Unlike their first album, Take Me Back, which concentrated on country and bluegrass fare, this one features several black gospel and blues numbers, delivered in a swingingly syncopated vocal style, along with original compositions by Greg Brown, Bob Dylan, and the title tune, an old Lula Belle and Scotty number. Bluesier numbers include If I Had My Way/Stagger Lee/Motherless Children, Mike Dowling's Do Right To Me, Baby and Mollie's smoking rendition of Cleanhead Vinson's That's The Way To Treat Your Woman. But the two absolute stunners here are, Looking For The Stone by Ralph Stanley and Keith Whitley and the haunting Floods Of South Dakota written by Bill Ashford and the late Judy Roderick. (RP)

TiM O'BRIEN Flying Fish 70319 Hard Year Blues ● CD $15.98

TIM O'BRIEN & THE O'BOYS Sugar Hill 3808 Oh Boy! ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 45 min., recommended. Aided by bassist/ banjoist Mark Schatz, guitarist Scott Nygaard and dobro ace Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien has come up with a sparkling album of string band music that defies easy categorization. The album abounds with surprises, from the strange and wonderful version of Dylan's When I Paint My Masterpiece (with duet vocal by Del McCoury), to Tim's reading of traditional warhorses Run Mountain/ The Farmer's Cursed Wife to the band's exciting version of He Had A Long Chain On. Five songs were written or co-written by Tim, most notable among them the poignant Time To Learn. (RP)

PHIL OCHS Rhino 70080 A Toast To Those Who Are Gone ● CD $11.98
Phil Ochs, at one point, rivaled Bob Dylan for the crown of the protest movement. His topical folk songs were as hard-hitting as they were poignant. This is a great record for archivists because Toast contains 14 previously unreleased acoustic, demo recordings. The sound quality of these socio-political letters is chrystaline. No information on recording dates are given in the liner notes, just some Sean Penn stream-of-consciousness rambling - gimme a break! Where Dylan chose to remove himself from his songs occasionally - Phil sang from the depths of his soul. He lived each beautiful dream & horrible nightmare he wrote about. It must have been hard for his small circle of friends to watch such a brilliant and sensitive musician self- destruct. But while he was happening he was right on target, as these "love poems to America" would indicate - No Christmas In Kentucky , Going Down To Mississippi , Song Of My Returning , City Boy , Ballad Of Oxford (Jimmy Meredith) , Colored Town , Do What I Have To Do , plus the title track. Thirty years after these songs were recorded, the intensity and passion of this unheralded artist is deeply missed by those who remember. (SG)

PHIL OCHS Smithsonian Folkways 40008 The Broadside Tapes 1 ● CD $17.98
Reissue of Folkways FD 5362, a collection of songs recorded (but left out) for Broadside magazine in the early 60's, based on popular events of the times. Ballad Of Alferd Packer/ Christine Keeler/ Spanish Civil War Song/ Talking Pay T.V./ Spaceman , etc.

PHIL OCHS Vanguard 77017 Live At Newport ● CD $17.98
13 tracks, 52 min., recommended. This Phil Ochs live set, drawn from performances that originally took place is the summers of 1963, 1964, and 1966, is a part of Vanguard's current series of Newport Folk Festival reissues. The music is vintage Ochs - biting, angry, and politically astute - with many numbers not originally released as a part of the Newport LP series. Do note, however, that all of the numbers here were issued in studio versions on either Elektra or A & M. Those numbers include Ballad of Medgar Evers, Power and the Glory, Draft Dodger Rag, I Ain't Marching Anymore, Talking Vietnam Blues, Half a Century High, The Party, and Pleasures of the Harbor. Landmarks of the 60's folk music movement from a man who loved the chords of fame too much, performed here with just acoustic guitar accompaniment. Sound quality, notes, and photos are all solidly satisfying. (DH)

PHIL OCHS Vanguard 79566 The Early Years ● CD $17.98
19 track collection of early recordings by this fine and important singer and songwriter. It includes five songs from "The Original New Folks, Vol. 2" album issued in 1962 plus two previously unissued tracks from the same sessions. Songs include William Moore/ There But For Fortune/ Talking Airplane Disaster/ Davey Moore and others. The rets of the album features songs from Phil's 1963, '64 and '66 appearances at the Newport Folk Festival including Ballad Of Medgar Evers/ Power & The Glory/ I Ain't Marching Anymore/ Talking Vietnam Blues/ Half A Century High/ The Party, etc.

ODETTA Tradition TCD 1004 Sings Ballads & Blues ● CD $10.98

ODETTA Vanguard 43/44 Essential ● CD $17.98
21 tracks, 62 min., recommended A Vanguard "twofer" offering compelling live audience tracks recorded during Odetta's early 60's Carnegie Hall performances. It's a generous program that runs the gamut of the 1960's folk scene, featuring If I Had a Hammer, When I Was a Young Girl, Gallows Pole, John Riley, All the Pretty Little Horses, Meeting at the Building, the chilling No More Auction Block for Me, Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down, He Had a Long Chain On, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, Ox-Driver Song, and Timber. Glorious, poignant music performed by one of folk music's most sonorous singers. Excellent stereo sound, but no notes at all. (DH)

ODETTA Vanguard 2109 At Town Hall ● CD $13.98


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