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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ELECTRIC DIRT
One disc 46 minutes approximately. The sound is crisp yet warm,which suits Helm's songs and voice perfectly.
This album is a continuation of Helm's fine previous (Grammy winning) release "Dirt Farmer",yet it builds on that album's feel. This time out there are electric guitars that replace the previous albums overall acoustic sound. Yet "Electric Dirt" has that...
Published on June 30, 2009 by Stuart Jefferson

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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Dirt Farmer
This is better than Dirt Farmer. It's great to hear more of Levon's singing, even if they declined to use pitch control. It would be better if he sang in a lower key and hit the notes more accurately. Nevertheless, his rendition of Tennessee Jed is worth twice the price of the album. The horn section brings you right back to The Band.
Published on July 22, 2009 by Mark B. White


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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ELECTRIC DIRT, June 30, 2009
This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
One disc 46 minutes approximately. The sound is crisp yet warm,which suits Helm's songs and voice perfectly.
This album is a continuation of Helm's fine previous (Grammy winning) release "Dirt Farmer",yet it builds on that album's feel. This time out there are electric guitars that replace the previous albums overall acoustic sound. Yet "Electric Dirt" has that same lived in,down-home feel,due in large part to Helm's wonderful aching vocals. The arrangements by Larry Campbell are just right,making each track stand out yet all the tracks form a seamless whole. A combination of up-tempo tracks combine with slower tunes that show Helm's voice is comfortable with either one. His voice sounds most authentic on the slower tracks,which give the feeling of this music being much older than it is. In some ways Helm's voice and inflection (though Helm's voice is in a lower range) sounds a bit like the wonderful Roscoe Holcomb (give Holcomb a try if you want to go deeper into this style of music),a favorite of Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton,who sang about his times in the Kentucky Mountains.
The band is made up of Helm's musician pals from his famous "barn" concerts in Woodstock,N.Y. This is important to someone with Helm's authentic musical credentials that go back many years to his most famous group,THE BAND. Helm's voice needs the sympathetic back-up from musicians who know his music intimately. Instrumentation ranges from guitars to fiddles to mandolins to accordions,with a touch of keyboards mixed in,along with the standard rhythm section. On four tracks there is a small horn section which helps flesh out the music.
The songs are a combination of the well known ("Tennessee Jed",made famous by the GRATEFUL DEAD,"Stuff You Gotta Watch" and "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had",by Muddy Waters) to a song by Carter Stanley,and one tune by the great writer Randy Newman,among others. Together these songs blend together to make another inspired release by Helm. The vocals are helped along by his daughter Amy Helm and Teresa Williams,which give those tracks added feel and depth. But the tracks that feature Helm alone on vocals are the most riveting. There is so much feeling wrapped up in his voice that the words sometimes take a backseat to his arresting style.
This album is another example of "American" music,music that has it's roots in times past. The combination of good songs,good playing,and Helm's lived-in,seen-it-all,last chance voice is the real deal. Listeners who liked Helm's previous album,"Dirt Farmer",will find this album to be a fine companion to it.
If you haven't heard Levon Helm you're missing some real music played and sung by someone special. This album is refreshing,it's honest music played honestly. For that reason it stands out from most everything today. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Levon's Best, July 17, 2009
By 
o dubhthaigh (north rustico, pei, canada) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
This is more appropriately the best album the Band never made. It certainly is Levon's best. A follow up to Dirt Farmer, but with more punch, the band crackles all the way through and both his daughter Amy and Larry Campbell are stalwart colleagues who deliver the goods. Amy is amazing - she her old man's swagger and sway with a voice full of the deep south and close to the floor. Campbell is not just an amazing guitarist. He obliterates whatever it was that Robertson once brought to Levon's efforts.
And that is critical. In many of the tunes, one's imagination immediately inserts virtual harmonies from Danko and and Manuel. Of course, they're gone, but you can almost hear them coming in. The horns would put you in mind of the wonder that Hudson would effect. As for Levon Helm's drumming, he has a snap, roll and swing in finer form than I have ever heard. His voice is back as well. Midnight Rambles and time have brought a large measure of restoration to one of America's most iconic singers.
The songwriting is crisp and draws on Muddy Waters, Happy Traum, Jerry Garcia, Levon and Larry Campbell, Pop Staples and Carter Stanley, among others. "When I Go Away" ranks with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
All in all, superb in every regard. Pick this up!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful if you like the full Ramble Sound, June 30, 2009
By 
F. Tyndall (Gainesville, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
If you liked Dirt Farmer, but prefer the fuller sound of his live Rambles, then this is the album for you. More upbeat, and featuring more horns, this album sounds like the Ramble, but with better production than most of the recordings I have of the Ramble on the Road.

Larry Campbell's production and playing both sound great. Levon's voice is strong. Even after first listen some of the new songs are pretty catchy and the covers are almost perfectly done.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Roots of The Band, August 2, 2009
By 
Curly Q. Link (Somewhere Out There) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
In music recording, there's sometimes an idea that one "real" element can lend credibility to an otherwise "fake" blend; for example, a mix made entirely on synthesizers will sound altogether more realistic if you add just one live acoustic track, a guitar, a bass, a sax etc. This same principle applied to the classic '70's rock band called The Band, a group that played music heavily rooted in the traditions of the American South, whose members were actually from the deep south-----of Canada! Only Arkansas farm boy Levon Helm was the true "roots" member, and his clarion drawl gave The Band's sound 90% of its authenticity. Who else could have sung "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" with more real feeling? Sounded like he had actually witnessed the Civil War. Of course Richard Manuel & Rick Danko were great singers too, but listen to "Rag Mama Rag", "Up On Cripple Creek", "The Weight", "When I Paint My Masterpiece", etc. and hear how many of The Band's finest songs featured Levon's soulful moan. So it's rewarding to hear Levon's newest efforts reaffirming & cementing his role as a legendary American folk artist. The albums "Dirt Farmer" and now "Electric Dirt" wisely reassert Levon's country blues roots, with solid support from daughter Amy and a winning group of backing musicians. Helm's voice sounds a bit ragged here & there after his struggle with throat cancer, but overall his singing is still the Levon we know & love, and the grittiness works with this type of music. The one minor complaint could be that, given the title, the album could have been a bit more "electric"; there is still a fair amount of acoustic instrumentation here. But overall, "Electric Dirt" succeeds well and is another very strong effort from a musician who has weathered the many roads of experience and keeps getting better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vintage levon, February 5, 2010
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This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
Have to admit, was pleasantly surprised by this album. So many years since The Band days, and Levon has still got it. His voice seems more "raspy", but if anything it improves the quality of the songs. Good material, kind of a gospel feel on some of the songs. Especially liked "Golden Bird"; what a haunting song.
If its been awhile since you've heard anything from Levon and if you like good music would definitely recommend giving this a tumble; good music is still being made.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Gifts From Heaven, August 6, 2009
By 
K. Spahr (Springfield, OH) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
This is a remarkable CD from a remarkable songwriter and musician. Levon's golden tones have already left their mark on American music and this one does the same, only with a spirit of redemption and happiness. Levon sounds GLAD to be alive and singing and it comes thru in his voice. The harmonies provided by his daughter Amy and Larry Campbell are remarkable and are the perfect counterpoint to Levon's tone.

If you're a fan of The Band or just good American music without the bells and whistles, this is a CD for you. A little bit of everything stylistically speaking.

With Electric Dirt, we have been giving two gifts from God, Levon's recovery and continued creativity and this fine fine CD. Give it a spin and revel in the glory.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sing-along rock-country-blues-spiritual flavor, September 15, 2009
This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
Best monies worth cd I purchased in a long time. Had to purchase two because I loved it so much. One copy I gave to my friend who is just beginning a battle with cancer and I thought he could use some emotional/spiritual uplifting. I hope he likes it,and it gives him as much enjoyment as I received from it. You can't wrong by purchasing this cd. Do yourself a favor.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Closest thing to a 'Band' recording I've heard yet., July 7, 2009
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This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
I'm no expert on 'The Band' but I do have all there studio albums. I gotta tell ya' this is the closest thing I've heard yet to a new 'Band' album. No, I don't own all the solo projects from Robbie, Levon, or Rick but I've heard a few and nothing comes close to the feeling you get while listening to this. It's almost as if they never went away. As far as 'electric' goes it's definitely amplified country/rock/blues. But don't look for any distortion here, just clear, clean amplified sounds.

I really liked 'Dirt Farmer' but I'm in love with this. Enjoy...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent CD, June 28, 2010
By 
Wil Burns (Marianna, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
This CD is tremendous! Buy it - along with Levon Helm's Dirt Farmer. You'll be glad you did! Both won grammy awards!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It may not be The Band but it's still terrific-Helm checks in with one of his best albums in 30 years., August 31, 2011
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This review is from: Electric Dirt (Audio CD)
Icon has become a dirty word for some people. Once you're an icon there really isn't much more to accomplish and your best work is behind you. That's not the case with Levon Helm.

Helm after suffering from cancer, undergoing chemo, radiation therapy and losing his voice miraculously regained it. Although a bit higher than before, it's still Levon and he's in darn fine voice here with a double fistful of strong songs.

"Electric Dirt" unlike "Dirt Farmer" focuses less on traditional southern ballads and reintroduces a bit more of The Band twang, a bit of R&B horn work and the result is one of the best solo albums from a former member of The Band yet.

"Growin' Trade" is the first original song that Levon's done in a long time and, written in collaboration with Larry Campbell is one of the finest on the album.

It's not all electric as there are tracks like "Golden Bird" that sound like they are vintage recordings made by Harry Smith for a Folkways release.

Listen to the samples first of course but if you enjoy them you'll find a lot more great stuff on "Electric Dirt" as infectious and effective an album as Helm as made in over 30 years.
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