Arlo Guthrie

Running Down the Road

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Although this album's "Coming in to Los Angeles" crossed Guthrie over and into the rock underground, especially via its performance at Woodstock, most of his third record is actually far more laid-back country-rock. Very much a production of its time, in a slightly negative sense, Running Down the Road features Guthrie employing the cream of L.A.'s top country-rock players as session men: Ry Cooder, James Burton, Clarence White, Jim Gordon, Gene Parsons, Jerry Scheff, and Chris Etheridge. The tone is good-natured and easygoing -- too good-natured and easygoing sometimes, in fact, as on the unexciting cover of "Stealin'." Guthrie acknowledges his folk roots with covers of tunes by his father Woody Guthrie ("Oklahoma Hills"), Pete Seeger ("Living in the Country"), and Mississippi John Hurt. These are surrounded by originals that follow the Dylan "back to basics" mold of the late '60s, both in musical and lyrical concerns ("My Front Pages" might even be taken as a gentle Dylan satire). As such, much of the record is inoffensive but inconsequential, although the drug smuggling ode "Coming into Los Angeles" adds a touch of much-needed urgency. The title track is entirely uncharacteristic of the album, with its harsh blasts of distorted psychedelic guitar and tough, walking-blues stance -- for these reasons, it's a standout.

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