Woody Guthrie

Ramblin' Round

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The Recall 2cd imprint of British label Snapper Music specializes in mid-priced double-disc collections of vintage recordings that have fallen into the public domain in Europe, where copyright extends for only 50 years. By that measure, Woody Guthrie's recordings, all made in the '40s, have been out of copyright for a while. Ramblin' Round is typical of what has happened as a result of the law. It contains 40 tracks, including most of the material Guthrie recorded in 1940 for RCA Victor as Dust Bowl Ballads (for some odd reason, only "Dust Bowl Refugee" is missing), plus songs done for Moses Asch during and after World War II, including well-known Guthrie originals like "This Land Is Your Land" and old folk songs sometimes featuring such supporting players as Cisco Houston and Pete Seeger. The selection and sequencing are seemingly random, with RCA tracks, most of them in good fidelity, juxtaposed against other selections that betray the casualness of the Asch sessions and/or the wear and tear on the discs used to master this collection. It's all a jumble. The only annotations are the usual biography-oriented liner notes (no comments at all about the tracks on the album), typically littered with factual errors and grammatical mistakes. The only reason a casual fan might want to pick this album up is price, and even then, it's hard to recommend an uneven miscellany like this over the legitimate releases on Buddha (for the RCA material) and Smithsonian Folkways (for the Asch recordings).

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