Ramblin' Jack Elliott found a warm welcome when he began touring England and the continent in 1955, first as a solo act (on a scooter, with his wife in tow) and later with the banjo player Derroll Adams, and he soon discovered that audiences were more appreciative (and that busking was more lucrative) compared to America (this despite the fact that English critics were as quick as Americans to note his uncanny similarity to Woody Guthrie). After recording several sessions for Topic (including the delightful Rambling Boys) he later signed a contract with Denis Preston and the English Columbia label, for which he recorded some of the best material of his career, a series of LPs beginning with Ramblin' Jack Elliott in London. The exhaustive Bear Family collection At Lansdowne Studios, London contains material from that LP and another, the tribute record Sings Songs by Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers, plus early duets with Derroll Adams. Far more than just a Woody Guthrie clone, Elliott began revealing his deep knowledge of American folksong, a strain that looked far west to include plenty of strong cowboy songs and his strident yodel. He also showed more of his fine sense of humor and laid-back charm (which, granted, had easily been evident from Topic recordings as well). Elliott's later material for the U.S. Vanguard label was excellent as well, but this was the beginning of his legend on record. Also, fans of '50s and '60s British roots will be pleased to find Alexis Korner present on most of these sessions.
At Lansdowne Studios, London Review
by John Bush