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Secret Handshake


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Audio CD, November 3, 1998
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 3, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Shout Factory
  • ASIN: B00000DGTN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,573 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Wild Ox Moan
2. This World Is Not My Home
3. Alberta
4. Got To Find Blind Lemon-Part One
5. I Believe I'll Go Back Home
6. Chevrolet/Big Alice
7. I Can't See Your Face
8. Mistreated Mama
9. Someday Baby
10. Just A Little While To Stay Here

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

On his first solo release since 1986, Geoff Muldaur delivers a pleasing collection of American Music. The eight covers and two originals encompass traditional blues, gospel, and folk but come across as truly original due to Muldaur's soulful and octave-jumping vocals, as well as his production and arranging. The covers are down-home, including compositions by Leadbelly, Vera Hall Ward, and Sleepy John Estes, and his originals are rootsy, especially "I Believe I'll Go Back Home," Muldaur's take on the biblical story of the prodigal son. He even gets downright funky during an extended jam on "Chevrolet/Big Alice," a track featuring David Grisman on mandolin and Canadian guitar virtuoso Amos Garrett on lead guitar. Curl up on the couch with this one and feel it; it gets better with each spin. --Jason Pascal

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Who else plays great stuff like this?!)
J. Blilie
Along with Lucinda Williams's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, it is arguably the best modern folk record of 1998.
Jerome Clark
His music is more than authentic - it's playful, inspirational, and soulful.
Bren Besser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jerome Clark on December 23, 1998
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is truly a golden age of folk recording. The quantity of material, both new and reissued, is without precedent, and on the whole the quality matches the quantity. In fact, there's so much good stuff out there that even the most committed lover of roots music has a hard time keeping up with it. Geoff Muldaur's new disc, however, should not be missed. Along with Lucinda Williams's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, it is arguably the best modern folk record of 1998. Unlike Williams, however, traditional music is not simply an influence but the meat of his repertoire; there are only two originals here. The rest come from Lead Belly, Vera Hall, Sleepy John Estes, the great gospel composer Albert E. Brumley, Jr., and others. It's risky to take on songs already done by the masters, but even if you've heard the originals, Muldaur is going to leave you profoundly satisfied, fashioning a modern music that is yet suffused with the raw power of true American folk music. Muldaur, who hasn't recorded for something like 20 years, was always a gifted interpreter of country blues, jug-band romps, and hoary pop tunes, but nothing will prepare you for a mature work like this one. Every cut is notable for its creative approach and impassioned performance. Listening to The Secret Handshake, you hear traditional music renewing itself for the 21st Century and sounding better than ever.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James Otterstrom on July 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This album is devastating proof that there isn't now, nor will there ever be, enough Geoff Muldaur on record. It's been 35 years since Geoff & Maria Muldaur were major components of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Go back and listen to Geoff tear up 'Downtown Blues' with the Kweskin band, and then dig up 'New Orleans Hopscop Blues' from Geoff & Maria's drop-dead 'Pottery Pie' album (if you can find one), also check out 'Minglewood Blues', on 'Chasin' Gus' Ghost' by John Sebastian and the J Band, and another even hotter live version of that song, with the J Band, on the recently released CD,'The Harry Smith Connection'. That's almost all we have of Geoff until now. On this rare solo effort, 'The Secret Handshake', Geoff dumps you right into real folk blues on cut #1, 'Wild Ox Moan', then takes you along on an emotional roller coaster ride of authentic American experience that never lets up until the last note of the melancholic final song 'Just A Little While To Stay Here'. Every song here is exceptional, and some are unforgettable, 'Wild Ox Moan', 'Alberta', 'Got To Find Blind Lemon', 'Chevrolet/Big Alice' and 'Mistreated Mama', come to mind, but the album is an absolute keeper front to back. Geoff, where the hell have you been for the last 20 years? This is what the world needs brother, please, give us more.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By wylie spicer on December 5, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Geoff Muldaur has one of the most distinctive voices in my collection.But lots of people have distinctive voices......Muldaur also has great people selection and choice of tunes.remember when he was with maria muldaur(Pottery Pie)and then on to the Butterfield Blues Band (If you havent heard Small Town Talk get right over to the Butterfield section and buy the cd that it is on).Then he disappears off my radar til this album where has done it again with great musicians(good old Amos Garrettsurfaces for a tune or two) and great tunes.His new version of Chevrolet will get you moving.Abit like jesse winchester in the religion running through a la gospelish This World is not My own and Short Time to be Here but what a way to get the feeling.
If you want more Geoff after you listen to this one go get John Sebastian's new one John Sebastian and the J Band Chasin gus' Ghost where Muldaur turns up on a number of cuts
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Muldaur was a staple of the Boston folk scene in the Sixties, first with the wonderful Kweskin jug band, then with his wife Maria, and then briefly as a solo performer. This album (his first in a very long time) will not disappoint those who remember him, and may introduce him to new listeners. It recaptures the richness and range of his voice and his mastery of the material -- ranging from Leadbelly to a soulful "Just a Little While to Stay Here." Some of the material ("Chevrolet" and "Got to find Blind Lemon") harkens back to Geoff and Maria of 25 years ago, but done here in a mellower mode. Expertly produced (by Muldaur himself) on Hightone Records with arrangements that range from brass to piano to solo guitar, this is a triumphant return to recording for a very talented folk/blues vocalist.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Dorward on February 19, 2002
Format: Audio CD
After some years of silence, Geoff Muldaur came back with a pair of remarkable discs on the Hightone label, _The Secret Handshake_ & _Password_. As the similar titles suggest, these are closely intertwined, though they feature quite different bands and material: _The Secret Handshake_ focusses on "Blues & Gospel", as the back of the cover notes, while _Password_ casts its net more widely, including country & folk music & old-time sentimental songs. The albums are also linked by "Got to Find Blind Lemon", whose two parts (the first recounting a failed trip to find his grave, the second his later success) are split between the two albums. Both are highly recommended: I can think of few recent albums I've found so simply pleasurable. The band is terrific--there are contributions by players like David Grisman & Amos Garrett--& the material is assembled with a combination of scholarship & I-was-there history (Geoff's liner notes describe his early days hanging out with & learning from the blues greats) & unselfconscious verve: check out the wonderfully charged-up version of Leadbelly's "Alberta" for instance. The album's centrepiece is the longest track, "Chevrolet/Big Alice", which manages to pay tribute to both black fife & drum bands & also the late great pianist Don Pullen--everything about this track, from the opening pennywhistle & manic dialogue-with-himself by Muldaur, to the Jaco-style bass solo in the middle, is just right.
So what is the secret handshake, the password? I don't know--is he talking about the passing of traditional musics down from generation to generation of musicians? About the mystery & depth that resides in the grooves of old 78s? In any case, this disc & its companion are recognizable as instant classics: it's neither revivalist nor revisionist, just straightforward good music. Listen.
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