Woody Guthrie. The man who founded the tradition of the American protesting folk singer/songwriter which gave us Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Indeed, Dylan made his name with the `talking blues' style patented by Guthrie. Guthrie's music, it is not too much to say, was one of the greatest influences on 20th century popular music. It was a prime influence on the British Skiffle movement (Lonnie Donegan covered a huge number of Guthrie songs), out of which came the Beatles. It also gave us Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and countless others.
This album collects together 50 (yes, FIFTY!) classic tracks, and demonstrates just why Guthrie is such a major figure in the history of music. All the classics are here, `This Land is Your Land', `John Henry', `Gypsy Davy', `Mule Skinner Blues', `Wreck of the Old 97', `Jack Hammer Blues' and `We Shall Be Free', and that's just disc 1! In all of these Guthrie uses an eye for detail and an outrage at social injustice to craft catchy, yet involving lyrics which have a story to tell. Mixed with a distinctive guitar / harmonica style and compelling rhythmns and hooks in the music, these really are great songs, that almost anyone will find something to enjoy in. Personally, I find Guthrie's work more accessible than some of the other greats o the time, such as Ledbelly, partly due to his singing style - he had excellent diction, meaning that every word could be heard clearly.
This 2 CD set is a steal at the price being asked. The 50 tracks sound good for their age. I don't know if there has been any remastering, I suspect there has as the recordings all sound quite clean. There is a short, disposable, essay about Guthrie and that's about it. My only gripe is that there is no information about the recording dates (or even the years!) for the tracks presented. But hey! At this price that is a minor quibble, it's the music that matters! And you get a lot of excellent music here.
A set well worth getting. Recommended for all fans of Dylan, Early Paul Simon, Early Springsteen, Billy Bragg and the like.