Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I’ve got a couple of crates full of old vinyl albums that I haven’t listened to in years due to lack of equipment to play them. Over a period of about a year and a half I revisited each album on the internet or bought the CD and ranked the songs. I also recorded some brief thoughts, rated the album, and posted the results on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists comment section. I’m recycling and categorizing/grouping the posts on this website.

Gum Tree Canoe
I first saw/discovered John Hartford on TV when I was in my late teens or early twenties, about the time I graduated from “strictly mainstream” and began to explore different styles of music. He was singing one of his songs while playing banjo and clogging on a piece of plywood. At the time, I thought it was kinda cool. I even considered buying myself a Derby. I bought this album and it was in my rotation for about a year or two. Old fashioned riverboat bluegrass. I don’t expect anyone here has even heard of him and also expect most would consider his music somewhat cheesy, so this is another album that I was originally gonna skip over for this project. But for me, this album denotes a time and a place in my life so I thoroughly enjoyed the revisit.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C +

1- Little Piece of My Heart
2- I’m Still Here
3- No Expectations
4- Lorena
5- Jug Harris
6- Take Me Back to My Mississippi
7- Gum Tree Canoe
8- Way Down the River Road
9- Your Long Journey
10- Wrong Road Again

Mark Twang
I must’ve bought this one as a follow up to the only other John Hartford album in the crates, which I liked. I didn’t listen to it much and, as I discovered on this revisit, for good reason. Hartford does all of the instruments and vocals on this one and consequently it has the feel of someone sitting in their basement with a good multi-track recorder. Self-indulgent to say the least. Some of the songs are actually pretty good in a “sitting around a campfire with no electricity or batteries” kinda way. And he does show exceptional talent and versatility, especially with a fiddle. But some of the songs that attempt to be cute or funny are flat out annoying.
Scale of 1 to 10:  F +

1- Long Hot Summer Days
2- Let Him Go on, Mama
3- Skippin’ in the Mississippi Dew
4- Austin Minor Sympathy
5- The Julia Belle Swain
6- Don’t Leave Your Records in the Sun
7- Tater Tate and Allen Mundy
8- Tryin’ to do Something to Get Your Attention
9- Little Cabin Home on the Hill Waugh Waugh
10- The Lowest Pair

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