Woody Guthrie | My Dusty Road

Rounder (2009)
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  August 19, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars

0980_guthrie-main

The agit-pop songwriter of "This Land Is Your Land," "Going Down the Road," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Philadelphia Lawyer," and a passel of other bedrock American folk classics carried a business card that identified him as "Woody, Th' Dustiest of the Dustbowlers." This 54-song collection blows some of that dust off Guthrie's legacy through a surprising Boston connection. The recordings were made from superbly preserved 1940s metal masters — the plates from which vinyl records were pressed — that had been bequeathed to a relative of Boston rock-band manager Michael Creamer, who took them to locally based bastion of folk Rounder Records.

What's cool about this box of recordings originally made for the Stinson label is the clarity of the performances. They're far better than earlier LP and CD incarnations, which suffered from poor mastering, vinyl transfers, the low quality of domestic vinyl during World War II, or any combination of the above. The blueprint for the '60s folk revival lies here in the clear unveiling of Guthrie's dry bark and tough vanilla picking, and in his tales of open spaces ("Chisholm Trail") and social conflict ("Tear the Fascists Down" and plenty more).

There are two previously unreleased tunes: "Sonny's Flight" is a showcase for his pal bluesman Sonny Terry's frenetic, eloquent harmonica; "Bad Repetation" [sic] is a comic tale he spins in a corn shucker's drawl. There are also newly unearthed — maybe the correct term is "unbasemented" — versions of "Guitar Rag," "Brown's Ferry Blues," "Tear the Fascists Down," and "You Can Hear My Whistle Blow." Paired with an artful book that spins the tale of these sides and their place in Woody's world by Guthrie historian Ed Cray and Rounder co-founder Bill Nowlin, these four CDs are a superb introduction to an artist whose influence extends to Dylan, Springsteen, and, indeed, nearly all American music that followed on his dusty heels.

  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Woody Guthrie,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY TED DROZDOWSKI
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   TOM HAMBRIDGE | BOOM!  |  August 23, 2011
    Roots rock is the new country and ex-Bostonian Tom Hambridge is the style's current MPV.
  •   COUNTRY STRONG | SOUNDTRACK  |  January 11, 2011
    This steaming pile of songs is emblematic of the state of mainstream country music — all artifice, no heart, calculated anthems written to formula and meant, like the film itself, to do no more than capitalize on the genre's current success and rob its undiscriminating fans.
  •   MARC RIBOT | SILENT MOVIES  |  November 02, 2010
    This exceptional, eccentric guitarist has traced a slow evolution from screamer to dreamer.
  •   IN MEMORIAM: SOLOMON BURKE, 1940 — 2010  |  October 11, 2010
  •   REVIEW: RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS | SPREAD THE LOVE  |  September 07, 2010
    Boston-based blues-guitar virtuoso Ronnie Earl seems to be considering his past on his 23rd album as a leader.

 See all articles by: TED DROZDOWSKI