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Album Review

Guthrie, Woody – “My Dusty Road” – [Rounder Records]

ArtCrimes   11/2/2009   CD, Country

Rounder has collected about 50 newly-remastered Woody Guthrie tracks from 1944 for this 4 CD box. The consumer version comes in a little suitcase full of paper ephemera as well as session notes, but we’ll make do with a single sheet of track titles! It’s not intended as a definitive set of Guthrie’s 1944 sessions… that would be the 100+ tracks on “The Asch Recordings,” which draw on the same set of sessions with perhaps slightly lesser sound quality. Woody Guthrie’s influence over a broad swath of American Folk, Country, Rock and even Pop music is undeniable… even if you can’t stand Woody’s monotonous voice and the rudimentary guitar accompaniment. But he knew how to deliver a story – or a call for social change – and that’s what will hold your attention, if anything. His original tunes speak directly, and his versions of traditional songs (several of them made popular by the Carter Family) are sometimes more detailed and coherent than better known versions. The discs here are sequenced with themes, grouping many of his best known songs on one disc, his topical songs on another, traditional songs on the third, and the final disc with songs arranged for the threesome of Woody, Cisco Houston, and Sonny Terry (although Houston and Terry do appear on the other discs as well)… some of these are instrumentals, party songs, and uptempo dance tunes, like “Guitar Rag” and a medley of square dance favorites which manages to insert yet another version of Woody’s own “Going Down the Road”. (((crimes)))

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