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Muleskinner Blues: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 2

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Part two in Folkways' painstaking release of Woody's fabled recordings for the label! Includes 27 songs, mostly folk standards including Wreck of the Old 97; Take a Whiff on Me; Stackolee; Worried Man Blues; Ida Red; Baltimore to Washington; Por Boy , and more, with three unreleased tracks. 70 minutes of music with a 40-page booklet!

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Muleskinner Blues, volume two of the four CD series The Asch Recordings, is important not for its treasure trove of Woody Guthrie originals, but for its peek at the Okie troubadour's own deep roots. Muleskinner collects many of the old songs--"Danville Girl," "Stackolee"--that Guthrie knew and loved from his younger days. These are songs he learned at his mother's knee, at picking parties, and in the hobo jungles; the songs that he would later turn into his own with new lyrics, licks, and arrangements. Selections range from the maudlin "Put My Little Shoes Away" to the hardy "Johnny Hart." Altogether this sprightly collection is an important part of Guthrie's fascinating story. Great notes from historian Guy Logsdon, too. --Michael Ruby

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Muleskinner Blues
  2. Wreck Of The Old 97
  3. Sally Goodin'
  4. Little Black Train
  5. Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet
  6. Baltimore To Washington
  7. Rubber Dolly
  8. 21 Years
  9. Sowing On The Mountain
  10. Bed On The Floor
  11. Take A Wiff On Me
  12. Stepstone
  13. Put My Little Shoes Away
  14. Hen Cackle
  15. Poor Boy
  16. Stackolee
  17. Johnny Hart
  18. Worried Man Blues
  19. Danville Girl
  20. Gambling Man
  21. Rye Straw
  22. Crawdad Song
  23. Ida Red
  24. Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy
  25. Train 45


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 16, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways
  • ASIN: B000001DJZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,085 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD to complete the Asch set of 4, not especially enthusiastic about it because I knew that none of the compositions were penned by Guthrie. I'm not sure what I was expecting, exactly - maybe square dance tunes and cornball folk songs. In fact, the disc attests to Guthrie's excellent taste in "traditional" music. These songs are memorable, funny, melancholy, weird and delightful, among other things - here is simplicity without schmaltz or stupidity. Guthrie's performances are generally adequate, often inspired, and some tracks offer rare opportunities to hear Woody play the fiddle! Of all the Asch recordings, this disc is the most fun through and through - a Dust Bowl Bacchanale.
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Format: Audio CD
This album is a must for any fan of folk music, acoustic blues, or country/western. The songs are all excellent. Guthrie plays an integral role in american music, and this album shows some of his influences. There are no original songs. The liner notes are great. They often mention the influence of the Carter family on Guthrie, and some of the songs were done by them. Guthrie is often with Cisco Houston; some songs are solo, and Sonny Terry occasionally plays. Guthrie's music is essential, and hopefully with two recent tribute albums more people will listen to him, rather than only having heard of him.
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Format: Audio CD
Woody Guthrie influenced loads of singers, songwriters, folk singers, poets, activists, and storytellers. In turn, he also had his own influences. When he popped onto planet earth in 1912, nineteenth century culture, with its vast repertoire of popular songs and stories, still lingered in people's everyday lives. Some of the songs Guthrie grew up with date back to that previous looming century, and he recorded many of them later in life. This second volume of Moses Asch recordings compiles some of these songs as well as other traditional songs Guthrie picked up in his wanderings throughout the 1930s. Many of them also showed up on his popular California radio shows. Guthrie penned none of the tunes on this disc, but he arranged most of them to his own style and added his own lyrical touches here and there. Nonetheless, his indefatigable style shines on every track.

The title track, "Muleskinner Blues", shows Guthrie taking on a Jimmie Rodgers song (also known as "Blue Yodel #8). But Guthrie, unlike Rodgers, rarely yodeled (though he yodels with gusto on "Bed on the Floor"). The stylings of the immensely popular Carter family instead influenced his development. And many of Guthrie's early melodies came from Carter family compositions. Folk music tended to work this way. Tunes and lyrics radiated through the multitudinous regional music scenes scattered throughout the country. The composers and origins of some songs remain forever obscured in murky mystery. But some musicians won writer's rights through the legal system. Recording technology truly changed music forever. Guthrie came of age in this era, and so borrowed many songs and tunes for his own purpose. This wasn't unusual.

Some of the songs nonetheless do possess recorded histories.
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Format: Audio CD
If you are determined to collect all recorded Guthrie tracks, you may want this one, but there is a new multi-disc set available just this year which features a lot of these same performances in a remastered version from sources better even than those available to the Smithsonian back in the 1990's. If that is too pricey, this will do. However, the main effect of this compilation is to remind us that Woody's peculiar, sporadic genius, which offset somewhat his tragic life, was in poetic song composition. As a singer and guitarist, he was not particularly wonderful, especially on songs he did not create. His friend Cisco Houston did a lot of these numbers on his 1950's solo LP's for Folkways, and if you want to hear these traditional songs performed beautifully, his versions are so much better. On a lot of these, he accompanies Woody, but really took a minor role during these 1944 sessions. For those who want to have a collection of Guthrie's "cover versions" buy it. There are people, (like me) who appreciate that aspect of those who achieve fame by their own songwriting. I like Hank Williams' recordings of songs written by other people, for instance...but, as with Woody, not as much as him doing his own stuff. As for Woody's own songs, for my money Cisco Houston's versions are even better than Woody's own, and luckily some of those are still available on CD. If you are a beginning fan of Woody's, branch out to Cisco. You won't be sorry.
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