Odetta – Odetta Sings Dylan – 1965 – RCA Victor

Odetta - Odetta Sings Dylan - 1955 - RCA Victor

One of my favourite records. No one sings Dylan like Odetta sings Dylan. That said, no one sings Dylan like Dylan sings Dylan neither. They are both great artists and great voices. Odetta trained as an opera singer but was sidetracked by folk music. She had a voice that was deep like a man’s though it remained very feminine. She was incredible. Like some of my other favourite records this features Bruce Langhorne’s guitar playing. I love his sound. Bruce lost several of his fingers due to an accident with a cherry bomb when he was a child but he could really play beautifully. When I was searching through records I’d often have a look at the liner notes and the personel who played on the record. Sometimes I’d buy a record just because of one of the players on it. One of the sadder things about how music is consumed these days is that people have lost contact with that side of it, the human side. If you just get an mp3 of a song without all that information it doesn’t exactly spur you on to think about who played the second guitar line or who was the engineer or who played the bass. By removing the human side of the record, by removing the understanding that it took time and effort to produce it removes the sense of value that is attached. It is a pity that music is being devalued in this way. But back to this record, the opening track, Baby I’m in the Mood for You locks in with a driving folky beat that really sets the mood for the entire album. It is a record that is so alive. I love it.

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Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – Young Brigham – 1968 – Reprise

Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Young Brigham - 1968 - Reprise

This is one of my all time favourite records. 912 Greens is the best track. A spellbinding spoken narrative over folk ragtime guitar. The record also boasts a great version of the Rolling Stones’ Connection. Young Brigham was produced by Bruce Langhorne, one of my favourite guitarists. Langhorne also played tabla on If I were a Carpenter. I have a signed copy of Young Brigham. I’ve met Jack 3 times so far, just as a fan. The last time was in a carpark in Civic, Canberra. Me and Tom Woodward bumped into him and we talked for a bit about Peter La Farge and Townes Van Zandt. Jack told us that Peter La Farge was his best friend and that they used to go to the rodeos together. He also said that he believes Townes Van Zandt died because the medical staff treating him didn’t let him have any alcohol before going into surgery. Jack’s dad was a doctor and had told him that if an alcoholic goes into surgery they can die from the shock to the system if they aren’t given any alcohol. Jack asked us where we were headed with our guitars and we told him we were going busking. He asked if we ever had any trouble from the police when we went did that. We said we didn’t. The people Jack was with dragged him away because he was starting to, ah, ramble, as his name implies and they obviously wanted to get a move on though he obviously wanted to keep talking. His rambling stories are great to listen to though. Jack is a born storyteller.

Buffy Sainte-Marie – Little Wheel Spin and Spin – 1966 – Vanguard Records

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Little Wheel Spin and Spin - 1966

I first heard Buffy Sainte-Marie on ABC Radio National in a documentary on Native Americans. It was the title song to this album. It was about ’92 or ’93. I was about 19 years old. For a year or so I couldn’t get the song out of my head but I had no idea who the artist was. I hadn’t caught her name. I wanted to know so I could get her records. Her voice was extraordinary, simultaneously other-worldly and earthy. Finally I heard a repeat of the same doco on the radio and this time I caught her name. I first bought this, her third album and It’s My Way! her first album together. I ordered them in on CD through a record shop that was next to the second hand bookstore in Epping, NSW, where I worked at the time. I was completely blown away by how good she was, great voice and a really great writer. She was every bit as good as Dylan. Why hadn’t she become equally as well known? Back in 1997 all my CDs were stolen when someone broke into my home. That was tragic, a couple of hundred albums gone. Luckily back then there was little point in thieves stealing LPs as there was nowhere to sell vinyl plus it was heavier to cart around. There just wasn’t a market for it anymore, not like there is now that there has been a resurgence, so my 2000 LPs went untouched. But all my Buffy Sainte-Marie albums back then were on CD so they were gone. It took some time but thankfully I now own most of her records on vinyl. Some of the guitar on this album is by Bruce Langhorne, one of my favourite players. He has a nice, pared down, organic style. Standout tracks from this record are the title track and My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying. Buffy is one of the best.