Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie, Vol. 1

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Woody Guthrie made an extensive series of informal recordings for record company owner Moses Asch starting in April 1944 and continuing for the next several years. He simply would show up, either alone or in the company of his friends including Cisco Houston and Sonny Terry, and perform selections from his vast repertoire of originals and traditional folk songs, eventually committing hundreds of tracks to disc, some of which got away from Asch when he suffered financial difficulties. That may or may not help explain how the Italian label International Joker, virtually a bootleg outfit, got hold of this batch of the tracks. Guthrie, often with Houston providing high harmony, takes on familiar folk songs including "John Henry," "The House of the Rising Sun," and "I Ride an Old Paint." Terry adds harmonica on "Jack Hammer Blues." Although most of the songs are credited to Guthrie as songwriter, this is largely traditional material, and none of Guthrie's great songs is included. So, it must be considered a minor entry in his recorded catalog, just a collection of off-the-cuff performances of old folk songs, done with more enthusiasm that effectiveness.

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