Patricia Hardin / Tom Russell

The Early Years (1975-79)

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The folk music world hasn't exactly been holding its breath waiting for this reissue, but it should have been. Recorded two decades ago by singer/songwriter Tom Russell and his performing partner of the time, Patricia Hardin, the CD combines remastered versions of 1976's wonderful "Ring of Bone" with 1978's nearly as good "Wax Museum." (One track from each LP has been deleted to allow both albums to fit on one CD.) Expect melodically inventive music, heartfelt vocals, and memorable lyrics about everything from life and death in the Southwest to the Hindenburg. ("Wax Museum" ends with the actual radio broadcast of the Hindenburg going down.) "Ring of Bone," in particular, boasts a charming, homespun feel -- not surprising, since it was recorded more or less live on a shoestring budget -- and both albums make good use of a wide range of instruments, including sousaphone, trumpet, violin, and what's billed as a "'50s Guy Lombardo saxophone."

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