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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Following on from his recent mainly acoustic "Dirt Farmer" this excellent record carries on the Americana and bluegrass themes but also adds blues - we get two Muddy Waters songs "Stuff You Got To Watch" and "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had" (Electric Mud?). There are also a number of songs that sound very much like the Band - "Growing Trade", "White dove" and "Heaven's pearls" - the last two with wonderful harmonies from Levon's daughter Amy. There are also other nice covers - the Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed", Randy Newman's New Orleans-flavoured "King Fish" and the Staples Singers' "Move Along Train". And keeping with the gospel theme the record finishes with a rousing version of "I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free" normally associated with Nina Simone.

Levon is in great voice throughout and particularly on "Growing Trade" I found his voice very moving with memories of his Band-mates who have passed and gone. The record, recorded at his own Woodstock studios and produced by Larry Campbell, sounds brilliant - with a nice relaxed and loose feel. In some ways it sounds similar to Bob Dylan's "Together through life", in that there are electric guitars and horns but also mandolins, fiddles and accordions etc. I think this is a better record than the Grammy-winning "Dirt Farmer" and it deserves to be a big hit.
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on 2 July 2009
On the back of 2007's excellent Dirt Farmer, Levon Helm delivers another hugely enjoyable album. If you were a fan of the Band (like me)you will love this and wonder why it took him so long to record an album that more than pays homage to one of the greatest groups ever.
That unmistakeable voice is in fine form as he delivers a heady mixture of folk, bluegrass and the blues.
Richard Manuel and Rick Danko would be proud(RIP).
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When I reviewed Levon Helm's previous album, 'Dirt Farmer', I rashly awarded it 5 stars as I thought it was one of the best albums I'd ever heard. That was a mistake, as this is even better, and I hove no way of giving it higher marks than its predecessor!

Dirt Farmer was an album of country/folksy, mainly acoustic tracks. Here the musical palette has been expanded to include blues, gospel and Cajun. It all fits together into a coherent whole though. The stand out track for me is the rousing cover og Muddy Waters' 'Stuff You Gotta Watch', one of two Waters covers on this album. It's hard to pick a standout though; the standard is pretty darned good throughout.

Levon's voice is in fine fettle, with that trademark clarity and soaring style still in evidence even after the throat cancer. The backing musicians are a decent bunch, and work well together. Backing vocals are once again provided by Helm's daughter Amy, and again their voices mingle to perfection. A foot tapping record, everyone involved seemed to be having a lot of fun, which is the way it should be.

A thoroughly enjoyable album which deserves to pick up lots of awards. recommended to anyone who likes good music.
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on 27 July 2014
I doubt if you will be reading this unless you are a fan of The Band with fond memories of the relaxed country vocals of Levon Helm . This album was made towards the end of his life when , in poor health , he needed to raise money for medical bills . It is , I believe , an example of what is now filed under Americana . I think this means a mixture of blues , country and rock with a firm sense of rural origins . In other words , what we used to call roots music in the sixties . It doesn't really matter what it's called . The acid test is the eternal one - is it any good ? The answer is a resounding yes . This is heartfelt topper music . The song selection ranges from Grateful Dead to Randy Newman to Muddy Waters . It even ends with a nice version of the old Barry Norman theme tune . The band are great and Levon's daughter , Amy , sings lovely harmonies alongside her gruff old Dad . Finally a word of praise for Vanguard - the album comes in a lovely cardboard gatefold and not the cheap and nasty plastic which has cheapened the CD format for years .
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on 13 April 2013
What a fine album this is! Levon's great voice and distinctive, punchy drumming are both to the fore on this, one of his final offerings. Tennessee Jed is a cover of a Grateful Dead number while there's a great version of the Staple Singers' Move Along Train with true gospel style backing. There are a couple of fine Muddy Waters covers: Stuff You Gotta Watch (another version of which is also on The Band's latter day album Jericho) and You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had. Growin' Trade, composed by Levon with guitarist and producer Larry Campbell is in true style of The Band. And listen out for the soul searching few minutes of Golden Bird! Whenever he made records, Levon Helm always showed us what good music was meant to be! R.I.P.
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on 6 October 2009
For a long time,decades even,to me Leavon Helm was the drummer from The Band with the extra special singing voice who to my own shame just slipped off my radar. Well I'm making up for lost time and playing this album and 2007's Dirt Farmer until the view through my windscreen changes from the A1 to a rural blacktop. From the opener Tennessee Jed with a vintage Ry Cooder feel to the closing joyous ensemble Leavon's singing never fails to hold it all together. Americana,country soul,country folk call it what you like. I call class,pure and simple.
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on 20 January 2014
Having picked up 'Dirt Farmer' and readily fallen in love with it, I bought this album with high expectations. It is good and I play it a fair bit. It has great old blues numbers and those country influences. It has a strong feel of a 'Band' set, but pared-down a little.
Levon Helm's voice and style is still v much there and I would certainly recommend it.
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on 7 October 2010
Levon Helm, the greatest of all rock drummers, the most important part of the most important band in the history of Rock never fails to satisfy. Much of his work post-illness and post-studio fire has seen him in bluegrassier, folkier climes, but still laying down the textbook drum patterns, ace vocals and mandolin playing that he has favoured in recent times. There has to be unlimited space on everybody's cd shelf for anything carrying Levon's stamp and this one's a real charmer. But don't part-ex your copy of the Brown Album.
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on 1 January 2012
Ex Band member Helms stays just the right side of musical normality with this piece of true Americana.His voice is well suited for this sort of lyrics, the songs evocative and pure. I was disparaging of Ry Cooders latest effort - this shows how it should be done.
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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2009
I thought nothing could beat Dirt Farmer but this has done it.
I do love that small area of music where country meets the blues says "hi" to Gospel, acknowledges Scottish, Irish and English folk traditions, and then just tips its hat towards rock. This is it, with the genius addition of a fine jazz band. Completely fabulous Levon.
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