Woody Guthrie

Poor Boy

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In casual sessions beginning in the spring of 1944 and lasting for the rest of the decade, Woody Guthrie, sometimes joined by such friends as singer Cisco Houston and harmonica player Sonny Terry, recorded hundreds of tracks for record company owner Moses Asch, far more than Asch had the capacity to issue at the time. Over the years, many of those tracks did appear on Asch's Folkways Records label, and by the mid-'60s, when Guthrie was perceived as the godfather of the folk revival, they had more of a commercial cachet. Asch made a deal with the Verve subsidiary of MGM Records resulting in recordings released on Verve Folkways, including the August 1965 Guthrie LP Bed on the Floor, a "new" album in the sense that it contained previously unreleased recordings. After the Verve deal ended, Asch reissued the album on Folkways proper under the title Poor Boy in 1968. Unfortunately, Asch had long since combed through his holdings for the more impressive Guthrie tracks, and the informally performed folk songs left to be gathered on this album were substandard in comparison. There were interesting curiosities for Guthrie fans, such as "Mean Talking Blues," and it often sounded as though Guthrie, Houston, and Terry were having fun. But without the usual wit and poetry of his best work, Guthrie, singing old folk songs, was often just mediocre.

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