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Dick Fariña & Eric Von Schmidt

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Album Review

This obscure album, recorded in January 1963 at Dobell's record shop in London, is known primarily for a very famous session musician playing under a pseudonym. Blind Boy Grunt, aka Bob Dylan, contributed harmonica and backup vocals to half a dozen of the tracks (using that pseudonym, most likely, as he was under contract to a different label at the time). Farina and Von Schmidt, already noted performers in the American coffeehouse folk scene, are the principal figures on this pretty typical '60s folk revival LP. The material and delivery are rooted in traditional folk forms, including jug band, blues, and Appalachian music, and are neither too dry nor too exciting. Certainly Farina, the more talented of the front line pair, shows few flashes of the first-rate songwriting and arrangements that would flower on the albums he did in the mid-'60s with his wife Mimi Farina. The one vivid flash of that brilliance is on the instrumental "Old Joe's Dulcimer," in which he unveils his considerable talents on the instrument. With its almost Indian-like drones, it could just about fit as one of the instrumentals on the Richard & Mimi Farina albums, although the absence of Mimi Farina's guitar accompaniment creates (if only in retrospect) a sonic gap. "Wobble Bird" (derived from the standard "Cuckoo") and "Wildwood Flower" (a vocal number which has some dulcimer) aren't bad, but really this is just another folk album of its time, notable primarily as a collector's item. If you're picking this up just for Dylan's contributions, be advised that those are pretty low-key; he doesn't contribute any songwriting or lead vocals. Also lending a hand on these sessions is Ethan Signer of the Original Charles River Valley Boys.

Customer Reviews

Can't believe I found this

Richard Fariña (of Mimi fame) was down so long it looked like up to him. These songs were recorded in the UK very early in the 60s, can't remember exactly what year, with Bob "Blind Boy Grunt" Dylan, among others, on some tracks. I had the vinyl stolen from me 42 years ago in the green pastures of Harvard Square by someone named George and I've been looking for another copy ever since. Damn, it's sweet to find it now. Makes me wonder how Byron Linardos is now.

AAHHH!!! I can't believe Itunes has this!!!

Now I'm not an expert on the early folk scene, nor have I ever claimed to be, but the people who were involved in this album were essential to folk music's popularity and to it's spread. As the previous reviewer mentioned, Bob Dylan was on this album, going under the name Blind Boy Grunt, so that he wouldn't violate his contract with columbia, Eric Von Schmidt, who was involved with many of the best folksingers of the time and who was also himself one of the more influential ones, was involved, and of course Richard Farina (can't get my computer to type the doohicky over the n) who was ambitious, to say the least, but also talented and eager (noticed him really playing up his Irish side in this). My favorite song has to be cocaine, you can just hear Bob kind of hollering in the backround. The whole album has a sense of not being exactly proffesional, but that's probably what they were going for, considering that was the whol folk music thing (music of the folks). Great album to have, especially if you are a fan of folk music.

Dick Fariña & Eric Von Schmidt, Dick Fariña & Eric von Schmidt
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