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Tarbox Ramblers


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Audio CD, April 25, 2000
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Jack of Diamonds 3:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Honey in the Rock 2:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Third Jinx Blues 5:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Columbus Stockade 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. The Cuckoo 4:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Oh Death 3:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. No Harm Blues 2:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. St. James Infirmary 4:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Down South Blues 4:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Stewball 2:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Shake 'Em On Down 3:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Jug Band Music 2:59$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 25, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder Select
  • ASIN: B00004S548
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,286 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Where folk revivalists too often take a neutered, pedigreed approach, the Tarbox Ramblers prefer a mongrel mix with plenty of growl and bite. Much of the material on this Boston quartet's debut album comes from the Mississippi Delta, with the music's bluesy spirit reinforced by Michael Tarbox's unvarnished vocals and the slash of his slide guitar. Yet fiddler Daniel Kellar sounds like he was borrowed from a traditional string band, while the stand-up bass and stripped-down percussion recall the rhythms of skiffle or jug-band music. The Ramblers' dynamic blows the dust off standards such as "The Cuckoo," "St. James Infirmary" and "Stewball," but what's most encouraging for the band's future are a couple of atmospheric originals: "Third Jinx Blues" and "No Harm Blues." What the Pogues did for traditional Irish music, the Tarbox Ramblers could do for traditional American. --Don McLeese

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
I agree with both the most helpful favorable review and most critical.
B. Shapiro
The Ramblers play acoustic instruments with electric pickups (which sound pretty good on the fiddle and stand-up bass).
RS
The question of whether it is or is not "authentic blues" is irrelevant: It's great music, which is what counts.
no so-called

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 2001
Format: Audio CD
When you hear this CD, you'll know that though many of the songs are from the pre-WWII era, the Tarbox Ramblers are not some revivalist project. When most performers tackle songs like these, they turn out ever-so-faithful renditions of the old 78's, prettied up and minus the scratches. Tarbox, however, has a rare genius for coming up with new arrangements that dig deep enough into the spirit of the old songs to make something new, even after those songs have been repeatedly plowed under by decades of reverential covers. Not only that, but the original tunes on the CD shine through, which can only mean there are good things ahead. Listen to the ragged open D sound of Third Jinx Blues, the war-dance beat, Tarbox's low growl, "Oh, honey whadya go an' do that for?" or listen to the snarling guitar and snake charmer drums of No Harm Blues, that shivery slide run that makes you feel the cold ground the singer has just slept on, and then those three perfect cymbal strikes at the end just to rub it in. The same barroom spirit infuses the traditional songs as well with rockabilly-tinged and jug band bass, smooth country fiddle as well as bluesy plucked fiddle, slide ranging from edgy to rapturous, primal drumming, gritty vocals, cracked harmonies, and the closing refrain of "sounds so sweet, it's hard to beat" as a kind of good-natured manifesto. What a recent New York Times article said about a certain influential band applies here: "it can make you wonder if the purpose of most of what is on the market now is simply to help you forget that anything like this music was possible in the first place, or could ever be again." That was how I felt until the night I heard the Tarbox Ramblers. After suffering through years of hockey arena rock, leisure suit blues, professorial folk, and sullen singer-songwriters, I'd finally found what I didn't even know I was looking for.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By RS on January 14, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This recording by a member of the esteemed Tarbox family is a lot of fun. We saw them live last night and were stomping our feet for a good two hours. The Ramblers play acoustic instruments with electric pickups (which sound pretty good on the fiddle and stand-up bass). Bought their recording at the show and found that the Rounder release accurately captures the intensity that this band has live. Michael Tarbox switches from acoustic to electric guitar for some numbers, but mostly he plays acoustic with a tres cool slide technique. (If like this band, check out RL Burnside and John Spencer and Frum the Hills -- if you can find it).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bridget Lehane on May 8, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The Tarbox Ramblers slide and drum and sing and strum their way into the American collective unconscious with songs from the grittier, sweatier, dustier edges of the good ole days. They make you want to travel. They make you want to see get to the old Delta, the panhandle, the places where dirt and sweat live - the guts and heart of the America. You'll want to shout and sing and cry and moan and barn dance and slow-slide your hips to a shimmering rawness before the CD is finished. Get it. Then get it for your friends.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jason on July 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
When I tell people about the Tarbox Ramblers' unorthodox-sounding lineup (slide guitar, upright bass, fiddle, and inventive percussion), they're as incredulous as I first was when I saw them get up onstage. I've now seen the band twice in Newport, KY, and they get better each time I see them. This time, we made sure they came out for at least one more song (they were the opening act), and they returned to perform a blistering version of "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down." While the CD is absolutely incredible (and, in my case, signed by the band), they need to be seen live to be fully appreciated. I'm heading down to hear them whenever they're in town.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Ferreter on July 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Michael Tarbox and bandmates take decades-old songs and re-invent them with a new verse, or new tempo, or whatever they choose. The sound (gravelly vocal, bluesy guitar, upright bass, fiddle) feels like it was dredged up from the ooze of the Mississippi Delta. Keep in mind though, they are from Boston! The tunes sound familar, because its the sound of America in the 1920s and 1930s. A solid debut and a great, unique sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Shapiro on December 29, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I don't usually write music reviews. It is of such personal taste and mostly subjective. Having said that, I don't think I can rate this recording on a conventional scale. Michael Tarbox and his band take traditional music and at once honor it and turn it on its head. They have cherry picked well known and obscure Americana and crafted them as recognizable and distinctive. With his gruff but melodic voice and masterful playing of the appropriately cheesy vintage Airline distorted guitar--including his amazing slide work-- Tarbox goes much further than mere recreation. He redefines roots music, from jazz and jug band to nasty blues. I agree with both the most helpful favorable review and most critical. The latter expresses that the band is better live. I would say different. The album features some fiddle work and horns that do not accompany the band on their live shows, allowing for a sparser, more urgent sound. I saw them at a brew house in Salem, Oregon and felt bad that more people weren't there to experience what, for me, was one of those rare music moments-- easily comparable to when I first saw the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and, to lesser extent, the Subdudes. This recording has been on heavy rotation since owning it. It is my "go to" recording-- solid as a rock, joyous and inspirational. It is too bad Rounder has cut it from the catalogue. Find it. Buy it. Own it. Dive into it.
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