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LEVON HELM

ELECTRIC DIRT

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VANGUARD (798 612)

Tennessee Jed, Move Along Train, Growing Trade, Golden Bird, Stuff You Gotta Watch, King Fish, You Can't Lose What You Never Had, When I Go Away, Heaven's Pearls, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.

Electric Dirt is the follow up to 2007's ‘Dirt Farmer' which won a Grammy for ‘Best Traditional Folk Recording' and attracted many glowing reviews.

This one gets much closer to Levon Helm's live sound but still retains the organic feel of ‘Dirt Farmer' and although it has an exciting electric urgency, it still has links to his previous album because of the inclusion of the rustic-sounding mountain ballad, Happy Traum's ‘Golden Bird', in which Levon's poignantly beautiful vocals soar above the fiddle and bowed bass. 

There had been talk of a full-on blues album but Helm nixed that, preferring to concentrate on his new music. Nevertheless, there is a strong funky blues and gospel feel to this record thanks to the two Muddy Waters tunes (‘Stuff You Gotta Watch' and ‘Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had') and one from the Staple Singers (‘Move Along Train'). The two gospel songs, ‘Move Along Train' and ‘When I Go Away' positively glow - especially when Levon gets into a rural holiness kind of groove while the backing singers simply soar and the mood gets right back to The Band's funky, irreverent choogling sound on the Grateful Dead's breakdown number ‘Tennessee Jed'.

‘Electric Dirt' is a joyous album, full of memorable tunes that jump out of the speakers and put a smile on your face. Wonderful stuff!

 

Review Date: July 2009

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