This album, originally released in 1966, is one of the band's best - and for a group that was as consistently so much fun as this bunch, that's saying a lot. The instrumentation is completely acoustic - even what some would consider `primitive' (the use of the jug and the washtub bass, for example) - but the effects are timeless.
`Blues in the bottle' starts things off in great style - this tune was also covered by the Lovin' Spoonful in this era. Jim Kweskin's vocal is absolutely joyful - even on a `blues', it's hard for him to repress that natural buoyancy that's his trademark. Geoff Muldaur and Maria D'Amato (later Maria Muldaur) duet on the blues classic `Chevrolet' next, trading off verses as easily as a conversation. Kweskin returns with one of the several humorous songs of the album, the jug band version of the story of `Christopher Columbus' - a bit more swingin' that that offered by the history books. Geoff sings `Never swat a fly' - a reminder that human beings are not the only species to fall in love (and thereby alternately rejoice and suffer). Mississippi John Hurt's eternal `Richland woman' comes next - and this version, sung by Maria, is without a doubt the most beautiful, moving version of this song I've ever heard. `Downtown blues' follows, a real `shouter' from Geoff - and this is his forte, the boy can holler. Side one of the lp ended with the next track, the appropriately titled bit of silliness `Turn the record over'.
The second half of the program starts off nicely with another tune covered by the Spoonful (great pals of this bunch, by the way), `Fishin' blues'. Kweskin and Fritz Richmond then gift us the story of the `Storybook ball', involving several characters you'll recognize from nursery rhymes - and like `Christopher Columbus', this one swings a bit more than the original tales. Another duet from Geoff and Maria, `That's when I'll come back to you', follows - again, in a conversational style, and very well done by the couple. Muldaur sings `Viola Lee' next, with another gently humorous tune from Kweskin, `Papa's on the housetop', coming close behind. The set closes with Kweskin and Muldaur singing `Onyx hop'.
There is not a word more apt that `fun' to describe the music on this album. There are elements of blues, jazz, swing, and folk here - but the overall effect is a smile that is hard to wipe off the face. This music is good medicine - apply frequently, as needed.