What's good about this Woody Guthrie compilation? Well, the most important thing: the music, which is bedrock mid-20th century American folk. What's also good is that there's a lot of it, adding up to 28 tracks in all. What's not so good is there's absolutely no annotation as far as recording and release dates, or songwriting credits. Even the liner notes are skimpy. Guthrie is a major figure of American folk music; he deserves better treatment than this, whether it's intended as a best-of or a thematic compilation (and if there is a theme, it's certainly not clear). For those vital reasons, this certainly isn't a CD to seek if you're trying to collect Guthrie with a mind to thoughtful, organized presentations of his work. If your attitude is one of simply wanting a whole bunch of good Guthrie at once, however, it's fine, and certainly offers more material than most single-disc Woody comps on the market. The songs, too, include some of his most famous, among them "Hard Travelin'," "Dust Bowl Blues," and "Pretty Boy Floyd." There are also good interpretations of standards like "Muleskinner Blues," "Wreck of the Old 97," "Take a Whiff on Me," and "Buffalo Gals," and more obscure, unusual items like "All You Fascists" and "Slip Knot (Hang Knot)." There's going to be inevitable awkward duplication with other compilations if it's your first Guthrie disc and you decide you want more, but there are worse introductions to his music.
Hard Travelin' Man Review
by Richie Unterberger