Is it true that the modern country song "Streets of Baltimore" is more "immediate and far reaching" than the traditional ballad "Barbara Allen"? So says John Cohen, one of the members of this ensemble, and of course wading through his liner notes is part of the fun of a set such as this. "Rural Songs from an Industrial Society" is how he says this New Lost City Ramblers effort ought to be subtitled, and as a label it could suit a merger of Merle Haggard and Rage Against the Machine. In the late '60s, it was Cohen's way of describing an incredibly eclectic combination of songs. As was the Ramblers style, everything is properly documented as to information about the original recording artist and other details. There are very few albums around that would include songs by both the clever country artist Roger Miller as well as a hobo blues from the very early 20th century. In between are typical Ramblers choices, such as several Uncle Dave Macon numbers and a cover of "Dollar Down and a Dollar a Week" by the Arkansas Woodchoppers. Fans of Mike Seeger will not be surprised by the country & western numbers, seeing as he is a big fan of the genre. Some of the song choices are brilliant, of course. "Take Them for a Ride" by David McCarn is an excellent protest and encourages interest in the original artist, in other words a touchdown on the Rambler scoreboard. Used record pile diggers should be able to spot this side quickly; it looks like someone smeared mustard across the front. Instrumental highlights include Seeger's use of autoharp and the banjo and fiddle outings by Tracy Schwarz.
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AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne