A snapshot of the counterculture
Reviewed April 2010
Tales of '69
By Arlo Guthrie
Rising Son Records: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
There are artists who transcend a time and place, and those who define them. Basie and Ellington's recordings from the height of the big band era still sound fully modern and contemporary; Glenn Miller's music will forever be associated with the swing era. The Beatles sound like, well, the Beatles; Herman's Hermits and the Dave Clark 5 sound like the early '60s British Invasion.
Woody Guthrie remains a timeless icon of folk music. His son, Arlo, not so much.
A newly discovered recording of Arlo from 1969 is a clean, eminently listenable album but it is definitely a time capsule. During a rambling (but fun) reading of "The Motorcycle Song," the crowd racously cheers a passage about a police officer being killed. Hard to imagine that happening today.
But even if a document of the 1960s counterculture as much as a snapshot of Guthrie's own early days, it's a charming live set that's impossible not to like. With another take on his "Alice's Restaurant" and a lovely version of "Coming Into Los Angeles," Guthrie fans will find this release irresistable. Folk fans not as much into Guthrie may not be as drawn to it, but it's a nice live set that captures one of the most important artists of the '60s.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).