Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie [Recording Arts]

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The one thing this unlicensed Italian box set of Woody Guthrie recordings has going for it is quantity. It contains 85 tracks, spread across five CDs, each of which contains 17 songs (although, at a length of three hours, 51 and a half minutes, the contents could have fit onto four discs). There are no liner notes, just a booklet with a few pictures and the song titles and songwriting credits (which is required by law). The collection takes advantage of the 50-year copyright limit on recordings in Europe, so that the material Guthrie recorded for Folkways Records and other sources is in the public domain, and the tracks can be mastered off old records. Not surprisingly, the sound is uneven. No particular attention seems to have been paid to sequencing, so the album just rolls along randomly, with Guthrie sometimes singing his better-known originals, sometimes traditional folk and country material, sometimes alone with his guitar, and sometimes in the company of unidentified fellow musicians (such as Cisco Houston). Of course, the Smithsonian Folkways releases of these recordings are vastly preferable.

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