Hoyt Axton

Long Old Road

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It isn't often noted these days, but in the early half of the 1960s, there was a bit of crossover between the folk revival and old-time Dixieland jazz. You can hear it in a bit of Judy Henske's early work, and you can hear it a lot in some of the recordings of Hoyt Axton, a performer usually described as a folksinger when his early work is referred to. There's not much folk, however, in Long Old Road, even if Axton is pictured in troubadour pose with an acoustic guitar on both the front and back covers. And there's not much to recommend this album, which consists of hackneyed covers of early 20th-century-fashioned jazz blues, arranged Dixieland style. The unimaginative interpretation of (to take a phrase from the liner notes) "blues reminiscent of the Bessie Smith tradition" like "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" and "Jailhouse Blues" would be enough of a problem, but Axton's forced Louis Armstrong-isms make it much, much worse. Axton's no Louis Armstrong, but no one's on hand to restrain him here, as he incessantly drops from his more natural (and far more appealing) folk-blues voice into gravelly, hammy, son-of-Satchmo mugging. It gets to be as grating as a radiator that keeps coughing as soon as it gets a certain amount of heat going. It's not recommended even to Axton enthusiasts, or even to those willing to put up with the extremely erratic valleys of his early records.