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The Asch Recordings, Vols. 1-4

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Album Review

Woody Guthrie's Asch Recordings, Vol. 1-4 is another shining example of Smithsonian/Folkways' ability to create a historically important document that is both fun and enriching. Combining four separate compilations (This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1, Muleskinner Blues: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 2, Hard Travelin': The Asch Recordings, Vol. 3, and Buffalo Skinners: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 4) into one box, Smithsonian/Folkways presents a fairly complete overview of Guthrie's career. The collection features deep forays into his union songs, political and social issue songs, cowboy and outlaw songs, and early country and frontier ballads, with each CD separated into specific themes. The liner notes are intelligently written but never dry, going through track by track, bringing to light Guthrie's warm contributions to American folksongs. In listening to the set as a whole, the only question left is "where is Guthrie's comedy album?" His biting humor on songs like "Talking Hard Work," "Ladies Auxiliary," "Howdjadoo," and "Mean Talking Blues" tell of a wry and witty side of the activist that would fit alongside his topical children's albums nicely. Each of these CDs are available individually, but purchasing the box set gives the listener a more well-rounded experience and makes more sense economically.

Customer Reviews

This Land Is Not Your Land

Well I'm not surprised if this is inappropriate to some, but the song and Guthrie's message has been robbed. It's missing some stanzas that are of the greatest worth to the listeners and that destroys the entire purpose of deeming this album as a "Historical Record" that gives a perspective of the past when individuals decide to change the record into something it's not. Whoever decided to do this is destroying our history and our truth, causing we, the American people, to gain a watered down knowledge of OUR past. I don't mean to be so vehement, but this concerns the truth, after all.

Standing up

In the midst of pain, hardship, and oppression, Woody stood for the common man and for an optimism that was unbowed and expansive. Perhaps our times have become so oppressive that optimism is no longer possible. Perhaps in an age dominated by bosses, we have lost the vision of the common man's song. Perhaps visions and dreams are now luxuries and our young no longer see visions and dream dreams. But listening to this compilation again, Woody's optimism is a balm for a poor despairing soul. Through this time's political dustbowl, through the oppression of capitalistic bosses and too easily bought off unions, Woody's songs and singing pour like a balm over my weariness, refreshing me and giving me hope. As Woody said, maybe all a human being is is a hoping machine. Thanks, Woody, for your songs and your singing. It gives this old activist reason to continue. Listening here, I see you standing there with a sign that comes straight off your guitar, "This old man kills fascists!"

some great tunes here

Woody has been an inspiration to so many folksingers and contemporary rock guitarists and this collection certainly supports his legendary status.


Born: July 14, 1912 in Okemah, OK

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Woody Guthrie was the most important American folk music artist of the first half of the 20th century, in part because he turned out to be such a major influence on the popular music of the second half of the 20th century, a period when he himself was largely inactive. His greatest significance lies in his songwriting, beginning with the standard "This Land Is Your Land" and including such much-covered works as "Deportee," "Do Re Mi," "Grand Coulee Dam," "Hard, Ain't It Hard," "Hard Travelin'," "I...
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