Arlo Guthrie

Amigo

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    9
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With Amigo, Arlo Guthrie's ninth album, he cemented his place as an important artist in his own right. Like Woody, Arlo has always tempered his sense of tradition and what's important, with a playfulness and sense of humor. The opener, "Guabi, Guabi," a traditional African tune, is as quirky and lighthearted as it is straightforward, whereas "Grocery Blues" is a typical, if humorous and effective Guthrie novelty song. On the other hand, what places Amigo a slight notch above his previous work is the strength of his original material. "Massachusetts" is a gorgeous paean to his home state, while "Darkest Hour," an evocative tale of love, lust, power and intrigue, is folk storytelling at its finest. However, it's at the end of the first half of the record that Arlo does the memory of his father most proud. "Victor Jara," the story of the martyred Chilean folk-singer and activist, is one of the best and most moving topical songs of the decade, while "Patriot's Dream" is a stirring call-to-arms to the fading protest movement of the '60's. While side two may lack the sheer power of the first, it possesses a certain charm of its own. "My Love" and "Ocean Crossing" are tender love songs, "Manzanillo Bay" is a lovely, south-of-the-border travelogue and there's even a respectable cover of the the Rolling Stones' "Connection" to close the album. His last studio recording for three years, Amigo is a passionate, touching and funny collection of songs, and remains the pinnacle of Arlo Guthrie's career, as well as a perfect illustration of his many sides and strengths.

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