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Hard Travelin Soundtrack, Import
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Woody Guthrie - Hard Travelin' was a 1984 documentary film about the life and times of Woody Guthrie. The original taped masters had been lost for over a decade, but Toby Mountain of Northeastern Digital Recording discovered a copy in 1630 format and this CD was re-mastered from that tape. Arlo and his friends celebrate the music and life of his father.
Some of the music will bring tears to your eyes when you think about the people who worked so hard they died, ("Deportee") and were then forgotten. Woody pleads for these people, pleads for fairness and human dignity.
He was a lover of country, lover of the majesty and beauty of the United States. He had the audacity to suggest that this great land belonged to us all. "On one side I saw a sign that said NO TRESPASSING, on the other side it didn't say nothin'. That side was made for you and me." He never fought for anything but fair pay for a fair day's work.
We need him today more than ever. If you think Woody was a bitter, hateful guy, you'd be dead wrong. The music also spills over with joy and hope. Enjoy his Oklahoma accent, American through and through. You'll be proud to be one of those Americans when you listen.
Price was right, and quality good.
As I have mentioned on early reviews concerning the music of folklorist Woody Guthrie if any of the older generation, the "Generation of `68" needs an introduction to Woody Guthrie then I ask what planet have you been on. Woody's "This Land Is Your Land" is practically a national anthem (and in some quarters is treated as just that). This tribute has the further virtue of highlighting the considerable talents of Woody's son ( from his second marriage), Arlo Guthrie, also a name that should be familiar as a folk artist in his own right if for nothing else then the classic 1960's cult song "Alice's Restaurant". Add in a few fellow folkies as accompanists like Joan Baez, Ronnie Gilbert (most well known as that great female voice from The Weavers), the old cowboy (from Brooklyn) and Woody aficionado Ramblin' Jack Elliot, the well-known folk traditionalist Pete Seeger and you have a virtual who's who of the 1960's folk revival on this one.
As mentioned above these are tracks from the soundtrack to "Hard Travelin'" and have the virtue (at least on this kind of album) of being done apparently from memory. So you have Woody's songs here, warts and all. That seems about right for a folk album. Highlights here are Hoyt Axton and Arlo on "Deportee" the hard luck tragic story of an earlier group of Mexican immigrants who didn't make it. Sound familiar? Pete Seeger and Arlo on "Hobo's Lullaby is an excellent way to pay tribute to a man who has been seen by some, influenced by his autobiographic (and its film version) "Bound For Glory, as `king of the hobos'. Arlo (with The Oklahoma Swing Band) on "Oklahoma Hills" tips the hat to Woody's long ago roots out in those then dusty prairies. A nice finish is an apparently transposed version of Woody's voice along with Arlo's on the above-mentioned super-classic "This Land Is Your Land". Arlo, kudos on this on. You did well by your dad here.
I own a rare vinyl lp copy of this same material. I recently made my own transfer to CD and did some minor re-mastering work on it, so I cannot compare the official CD remaster with what I have just done with the original vinyl.
The performances are wonderful! I also loved the spontaneity of Pete Seeger and Arlo, particularly even when they cannot momentarily remember some words here or there, or when the engineer says "want to stop?" and Also says "Noooooo"!
My only disappointment was the inclusion of Holly Near and Ronnie Gilbert who perform "Pastures of Plenty". This performance was sub-par in my opinion and perhaps it is just the harmonies between these two veteran folk performers which was not exactly to my personal taste or what, but I distinctly disliked this cut.
I also do not know what the engineers did when they tried to combine the original Asch recording of "This Land is Your Land", with Arlo and friends in the studio, but there are some edits in the original performance by Woody on 78s, which I do not remember from the Folkways recordings I have at home. The audio quality of that selection is not the greatest, either, but sometimes tricks in the studio work and sometimes they sort of do not.
Despite my comments, please go ahead and purchase this recording. It is really enjoyable and you will apapreciate the otherwise fine individual performances.