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Mark Twang

John Hartford

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Album Review

From the early to mid-'70s, John Hartford let his eccentric genius run wild, creating the cult favorite Aereo-Plain and the lovely, straightforward Morning Bugle. Mark Twang, released in 1976, proved to be the pinnacle of Hartford's artistic run. Unlike the previous albums though, it was stripped down to only Hartford recording live in the studio. The album's themes circle around the Mississippi river, steamboats, and river men. The songs, as usual, run from sentimental to strange, from the romantic to the weird. "Let Him Go on Mama" is a tribute to a river man with the wonderful refrain, "you say he's old fashioned/well that ain't no big deal." "Skippin' in the Mississippi Dew" pays joyful foot stomping, fiddle sawing homage to the mighty river with a barrage of old-fashioned imagery. Hartford's unconventional side rears its head on "Don't Leave Your Records in the Sun," a song complete with imitations of skips and other odd noises a record might make after becoming warped. "Tryin' to Do Something to Get Your Attention" is a fun, if downright peculiar song, that will, for better or worse, get the listener's attention. Perhaps the most bizarre contribution, though, is "Tater Tate and Allen Mundy," a homage in which Hartford attempts to string together every important name that ever graced a bluegrass stage. This song, and album, may seem at odds with the artist's image as a progressive bluegrass musician, but he never drew lines between the old and new — he just followed his muse. Mark Twang may not be the first stopping place for the new Hartford fan, but for those already familiar with his unique talent, it's a must have. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Customer Reviews

Acoustic Dream

I grew up in Nashville. I grew up on Cream and Traffic, Grand Funk and Black Sabbath. I didn't have time for any stinkin' country - let alone bluegrass. I went away to college. John Hartford came to play a show at our school and I went to see it. He was touring this album. I was awestruck to see this guy alone on the stage; playing fiddle, guitar and banjo; tap dancing on a piece of plywood that was micked with piano pick-ups and played through the PA. John Hartford expanded my musical horizons. I will never forget that show, especially now that I have this album.

An amazing album

This and "Aereoplane" are JH's finest albums, and they are both very listenable. While Aereoplane was perfomed with Hartford's band, Mark Twang is essentially performed solo. Nearly all the songs are very catchy, and the performance is incredible. Buy this album.

Pure Ol' John

If you've ever lived near the Ohio River, you'll understand. If not, John Hartford takes you there. He puts you in a time and place where life passed by at the pace of a turning towboat wheel. A talented musician in his own right and a great storyteller as well, John really pours his heart out on this album. If you want to some of his music, look no further......

Biography

Born: December 30, 1937 in New York, NY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Hartford remains best known for the country-pop standard "Gentle on My Mind," a major hit for Glen Campbell and subsequently covered by vocalists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin. The song remains among the most often recorded in the history of popular music, its copyright netting Hartford well over a hundred thousand dollars annually for many years. But there was more to Hartford than that curious mix of highly literary folk music and MOR romantic nostalgia, told from the perspective...
Full Bio

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