Concert collaborations between Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger had a truly magical cross-generational folk music bond, but were also a show biz box office venture, an aspect that no amount of shucking or jiving can hide. The recordings that were released from these on-stage meetings are enjoyable, but hardly memorable. In some cases, the shlock factor is so mighty that, on a track by track basis, this album could be used to repel as well as attract, just as surely as the hefty double-album itself could be used as a weapon. Not that Seeger or the young son of his former singing partner Woody Guthrie would advocate such a thing.
The Guthrie connection leads to a strong "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)." "Joe Hill," tough as ever, might require a bit of patience, but the jug band "Stealin'" sneaks up at the beginning of the fourth side to give the entire album a new jolt of energy. The set's promise of a concert recording is not entirely misleading, though the sides mix and match excerpts from four different gigs. Cowboy songs are a nice connection for the two men, with "Lonesome Valley" another strong part of the final side. "Guantanamera" is horrid, though, and Seeger is sure stilted when it comes to old English balladry. In the musicians' musician column, these recordings feature nice backup lead guitar from native American picker Jesse Ed Davis, who has a nice feeling for both country and blues. Some listeners will want to give the two frontmen the hook and just listen to Davis.