Woody Guthrie

Hard Travellin'

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Woody Guthrie's recordings, restricted almost exclusively to the '40s, have been in the public domain in Europe for years due to a copyright limit of only 50 years in that territory. (In the U.S., where copyrights last much longer, his tracks continue to be claimed by such labels as BMG and Smithsonian Folkways.) That allows a reissue label like Great Britain's Prism Leisure, which specializes in unlicensed collections of such material, free to remaster old vinyl records and put out albums like this without paying royalties to the original recording companies, the recording artist, or his estate. It also allows the label to compile the material any way it likes, and Hard Travellin' is a good example of the result. On the one hand, it's a generous collection for a mid-priced disc, containing 25 songs and running 69 minutes. On the other hand, it's all over the lot. The selections seem to have been sequenced randomly, and they are drawn, without attribution, from various aspects of Guthrie's discography including his children's songs ("Car Song," "Ship in the Sky"), his work as a member of the Almanac Singers ("I Ride an Old Paint," "Hard, Ain't It Hard"), his celebrated Dust Bowl Ballads album ("Dust Bowl Blues"), and, most of all the many casually made recordings he did for Moses Asch that subsequently appeared on Folkways Records and other Asch imprints. The last source dominates, and it finds Guthrie, sometimes paired with pals Cisco Houston and Sonny Terry, running through lots of old folk songs and revealing his extensive debts to such predecessors as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. This miscellaneous collection is not to be understood as any sort of Guthrie best-of; there's no "This Land Is Your Land" or "Pastures of Plenty" to be found. Instead, it's just a jumble of tracks, some better than others. Typical of this sort of effort, annotations are minimal; just the typical two pages of biography-oriented liner notes stocked with typos, grammatical mistakes and factual errors. (No, Arlo Guthrie was not a child of Woody Guthrie's first marriage.)

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 1:51
2 2:34 Spotify
3 2:34 Spotify
4 2:34 Spotify
5 2:39
6 3:19
7 3:26 Spotify
8 2:57 Spotify
9 2:38 Spotify
10 2:49 Spotify
11 2:34 Spotify
12 2:53
13 2:51 Spotify
14 3:17 Spotify
15 2:13 Spotify
16 2:13 Spotify
17 2:31
18 2:24 Spotify
19 2:13 Spotify
20 3:47 Spotify
21 3:08 Spotify
22 3:28 Spotify
23 2:34 Spotify
24 2:07 Spotify
3:09 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick