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Red House (RHRCD246)

The Lines, John Gorka, Hot Tuna, Lucy Kaplansky, Storyhill, Spider John Koerner, Pieta Brown, Danny Schmidt, Guy Davis, Eliza Gilkyson, Cliff Eberhardt, Ray Bonneville, Meg Hutchinson, Jimmy LaFave, Peter Ostroushko, Robin & Linda Williams.

You can't have missed the recent celebrations of Bob's seventieth birthday and, of course, after the success ten years ago of Red House's sixtieth birthday tribute they couldn't miss the opportunity to release another CD of music performed in homage to our hero. The musicians include some familiar names from the first CD, some that are new and some that are relatively obscure.

It opens in fine style with The Pines' relaxed folk-inflected version of What Good Am I which takes Dylan's brooding song from ‘Oh Mercy' and adds a tender edge. Then John Gorka wraps his deep brown vocals around Just Like A Woman; his straight ahead interpretation fusing the best aspects of both Bob's and Richie Havens classic recordings. Greg Brown was on the first CD but his daughter Pieta has taken his place here. On her track, Dirt Road Blues from ‘Time Out Of Mind', she wipes out Bob's rockabilly rhythm and replaces it with a slice of slowed down sensuousness that makes it irresistible. And Danny Schmidt's rich rolling Buckets Of Rain has all the melodic impetus in it's instrumental passages as Bob's on ‘Blood On The Tracks'. Blues man Spider John Koerner captures the essence of The Days Of Forty Nine in fine style, Peter Ostroushko employs the blood curdling vocals of Natalie Nowytski to bring a Balkans flavour to Mozambique and Jimmy LaFave supplies a relentless reading of Not Dark Yet.

My favourite though, comes from Meg Hutchison. Her captivating reading of the overlooked masterpiece from ‘Under The Red Sky, Born In Time is polished yet fragile and is sung with a determination that digs deep into the soul of this great song. Performed by Meg with her own guitar and Shazid Ismaily's intricate use of bowed guitars, bass and robots, this track is a shimmering gem.

Another that's not to be missed. Roll on Bob's eightieth!


Review Date: July 2011

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