Archive for the Odetta Category

Odetta – Odetta At The Gate Of Horn 1957

Posted in BLUES, Odetta on December 21, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Odetta – Odetta At The Gate Of Horn 1957
TLP 1025


This is a classic Folk release.
Odetta plays her guitar and on most of the songs, she’s accompanied by an acoustic bass played by Bill Lee (film director Spike Lee’s father). Her voice is something you’ll never forget
An exceptional 15-track compilation released on Rykodisc’s Tradition imprint (also available as part of a box set with similar compilations by Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie), AT THE GATE OF HORN is a long-overdue reappraisal of the work of Odetta Gordon. The singer/guitarist is so closely identified with the late-’50s/early-’60s collegiate folk revival that her music has often been dismissed, or simply forgotten, in the decades since.

Focusing on her striking versions of traditional folk tunes, sung in a clear, deep voice and most often backed only with her acoustic guitar and the occasional bass work of Bill Lee, AT THE GATE OF HORN offers one surprise after another. “Gallows Tree,” a variant of a traditional British folk tune best known to modern audiences as Leadbelly’s “Gallis Pole,” is a stunning, doomy opener, and Odetta’s version of the lullaby “All the Pretty Horses” is simply beautiful. In between these tracks are 13 other pure folk gems.
A1. He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands 1:53
A2. Sail Away Ladies, Sail Away 2:21
A3. The Gallows Pole 2:52
A4. Lowlands 2:36
A5. The Fox 1:48
A6. Maybe She Go 1:47
A7. The Lass From The Low Countree 4:33
A8. Timber 3:10
B1. Deep River 3:00
B2. Chilly Winds 2:43
B3. Green Sleevs 2:48
B4. Devilish Mary 1:52
B5. All The Pretty Little Horses 2:59
B6. The Midnight Special 2:34
B7. Take This Hammer 3:27

Continue reading


Odetta – The Tradition Masters 2002

Posted in BLUES, Odetta on December 5, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Odetta – The Tradition Masters 2002


While Odetta is usually lumped in with other revival artists, she actually began performing in the late ’40s and had recorded her first album by 1956, a couple of years before the folk boom started. Her stripped-down style and powerful vocals also differed markedly from many revival practitioners, reminding one more of Leadbelly than Joan Baez. This connection is strengthened by the inclusion of pieces like “Midnight Special” and “Take This Hammer” in her repertoire. The Tradition Masters reissues Sings Ballads and Blues (1956) and At the Gate of Horn (1957) in a two-disc set, providing an excellent overview of Odetta’s early work. Both sets are fairly straightforward, with her vocals supported by her persistent guitar strum on Sings Ballads and Blues and the addition of Bill Lee’s bass on At the Gate of Horn. The most important element, though, is always Odetta’s resonant vocals. Whether singing blues, spirituals, or straight folk, she delivers the lyrics with religious fever, as though she inhabited the words. Her approach also invigorates familiar fare like “Greensleeves” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” reminding the listener how good these songs are. It’s also illustrative to compare her deep-interpretive approach to a lullaby like “Pretty Horses” with later, “sweetened” versions of the song by groups like Peter, Paul & Mary. The Tradition Masters is a good place to immerse oneself in Odetta’s authoritative versions of classic folk material. Old fans, unfamiliar with her early music, will likewise want to pick up a copy.
By Ronnie D. Lankford Jr. All Music Guide.
So what’s to be said about Odetta that hasn’t been said before a thousand times? Her adaptations of traditional music of all genres, from spirituals to protest songs to work songs to English folk music and beyond, has long ago earned its place as the classic, unique and personal adaptations that they are, unforgettable because of her resonant, booming contralto, virtuoso yet understated guitar accompaniment, and the feeling imbued in her interpretations.
The big deal about Ryko’s new release is that it makes available work previously unavailable on CD, much of it Odetta’s very finest recordings–of the 31 songs on this double-disc, I’ve been looking for her wonderful “Maybe She Go” to appear for years, for example–and the songs are presented in all their monaural glory, without the overbearing digital remastering we’ve all grown so regretfully accustomed to. This work sounds on these discs the way it was intended to when recorded–immediate, warm, and timeless. One gets the sense of Odetta singing in your very *room*–and for those of us old enough to remember the LPs (and I played mine ceaselessly), this disk recaptured the spirit of the original masters in full, because these *are* the original masters.

For those new to Odetta, this release is a perfect place to start–it is, really, the “definitive” collection. Younger listeners who wonder why someone would want to listen to “Greensleeves” or “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” again will probably understand, once they hear Odetta take songs that have become (and which to some degree even were when these songs were recorded in the late 50s and 60s) trite with uninspired repetition, what these masterpieces are (or can be, with Odetta) *really* about.

The songs so important in a historic contect to both the Folk Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement (“‘Buked and Scorned”, “Take this Hammer”, etc.) are just as poignant here as today, when other performers of that era seem hollow and dated in retrospect. And the deep sadness and romance of “All the Pretty Horses” or “If I Had a Ribbon Bow” still rivet the listener–it’s what even the great, like Nina Simone, *wished* they could do. And it’s all here.

Finally, in 2003, one hears the remarkable, unequivocal and intensely pervasive influence Odetta had (and continues to have) on performers of all genres. Variations of several of these traditional classics are best known in renditions by other artists (“Easy Rider”, “Hound Dog”, “Gallows Tree”, “Midnight Special”, “Timber”, to name just five) and you haven’t even *heard* then if you haven’t heard Odetta. The range and scope of her artistic impact is to broad to even begin to examine in a review.

Of all recent folk re-releases, I consider this to be the finest and most important I’ve heard. It’s a must for every collection–of anything.
By Unknown.
01. Santy Anno
02. If I Had A Ribbon Bow
03. Muleskinner Blues
04. Another Man Done Gone
05. Shame And Scandal
06. ‘Buked And Scorned
07. Jack O’ Diamonds
08. Easy Rider
09. Joshua
10. Hound Dog
11. Glory, Glory
12. Alabama Bound
13. Been In The Pen
14. Deep Blue Sea
15. God’s Gonna Cut You Down
16. Spiritual Trilogy Medley: Oh Freedom/Come And Go With Me/I’m On My Way

01. Gallows Tree (Gallows Pole)
02. Lowlands
03. The Fox
04. Maybe She Go
05. Midnight Special
06. Deep River
07. Chilly Winds
08. Greensleeves
09. Devilish Mary
10. Take This Hammer
11. He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands
12. Sail Away Ladies
13. Lass Of The Low Country
14. Timber
15. Pretty Horses

Continue reading