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The Live Wire

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 19, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Reissue of this live archive release from the Folk music legend. In 2001, The Woody Guthrie Archives received two spools of wire recordings from a live Woody Guthrie performance held in Newark, New Jersey in 1949. With the help of many talented recording engineers, the Woody Guthrie Foundation transferred this rare live performance from a delicate wire recording to digital audio, and, with state-of-the-art technology, restored it to near-perfection. This rare Guthrie recording is a fluke of sorts in that its existence is linked somewhat ironically to the fortuitous collection of 'folklore on what today is considered an outmoded and virtually obsolete recording technology: wire recordings. The two wire recordings on which these historic performances were found were lost for more than half a century. Discovered in a storage closet in the Florida home of Paul Bravemian, the wire recordings were donated to the Woody Guthrie Archives in 2001.
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Digital Booklet: The Live Wire: Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949
Digital Booklet: The Live Wire: Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 19, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B004OS4M80
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,475 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This 75 minute CD consists of eleven music and seven spoken word tracks. The audio is remarkable, considering the live 1949 concert was captured on a wire recording device. The documented story associated with the discovery of the original recording, some six decades later, and the remastering efforts is fascinating.

The 1949 concert, for those who admire Woody and the folk genre, is priceless. Imagine, Woody and his wife, Marjorie Mazia Guthrie appearing at Fuld Hall, located in Newark, N.J., with roughly fifty people in attendance. The venue is more a community center with a makeshift stage rather then a concert hall. The real beauty of the concert, aside from the actual music, is listening to Woody's extended introductions to each song. He provides the listener with a rare insight into the motivation and inspiration behind each of these musical compositions. He describes his early childhood growing up in Oklahoma. He provides vivid descriptions of his father and recounts the devastating impact of the 1930's dust bowl and associated economic depression.

Especially poignant is his intro to "Goodbye Centralia". He explains that the songs lyrics originated with the notes found with the doomed men trapped during the mining disaster. One only has to remember that at the time of these 1949 recordings, these stories were not ancient history, to those in the audience, but actually shared experiences. Woody's voice and guitar seem to have a more forceful edge at this concert then what was recorded in his live appearances in the fifties. This possibly can be attributed to his good health at the time. Obviously, in later years his performances were being hampered, to some degree, by the early onslaught of Huntington's disease.
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This is a fascinating piece of significant music history. Woody told the stories of his time in song. As I listened to the recording it became quite clear where Arlo Guthrie developed his story telling skills, from his daddy, of course. I saw Arlo perform in April of 2011 in Los Angeles and thoroughly enjoyed the evening with him. This recording of Woody, along with the host and Arlo's mother , Marjorie Mazia Guthrie, gives the listener the feeling of being in the room and enjoying the evening along with the performers. The restoration of the recording is remarkable, it's clear and clean. Well done all the way around on this incredible recording.
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I became a fan when I put my hands on the Columbia River Collection. It's almost incredible to hear Woody Live for the first time in my life. The sound it's almost perfect (knowing the kind of source that the original tape was from of course) and gives you an intimate, yet so public, of this genious that still ramblin' in my mind.
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