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Odetta: A legend ignored

Odetta: A legend ignored

To be honest, I had largely forgotten about Odetta until she died in 2008 at the age of 77. I imagined her as much older actually as she seemed to have been around since Biblical times, or at least all of my life. The great folk singer and activist had been an influence on the young Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, had sung in small halls and cafes,...

ODETTA INTERVIEWED (1989): The human touch

ODETTA INTERVIEWED (1989): The human touch

Folk singer Odetta has kept her sense of humour about the 15 year lull in her recording career. “I’ve just been practicing," she says, but is delighted by at last having another record out there in the marketplace. Despite her acclaim by audiences as far spread as Russia and Nigeria and accolades by Yale University,...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

In the late Seventies, Tom Paxton was still appearing in rock encyclopedias. It was a time when rock was still close enough to some of its folk roots (post-Dylan) for him to still be relevant. These days Paxton -- now in his early 70s and still performing -- may seem just a footnote in rock (usually mentioned in passing with regard to...

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez has never had her rediscovery by a new generation, but this reissue of her excellent folk-rock album of ' 92 – with an extra disc of demos including Dylan's early Seven Curses which only appeared on his recent Witmark Demos 1962-64 – is a smart starting place as it found her back in Nashville after a 20 year absence and...

RUTHIE FOSTER (2011): A Southern soul sister rises

RUTHIE FOSTER (2011): A Southern soul sister rises

When the once-great B.B. King recently played in Auckland it was my unhappy task to write the review of his sad, disappointing and uncomfortable performance. The man is clearly past it -- the singing but a spark of its old self, his guitar work now woeful, the "performance" mostly rambling and often distracted talk -- and you had to...

The Webb Sisters: Savages (Proper)

The Webb Sisters: Savages (Proper)

Best known in the wider world as part of Leonard Cohen's touring band – the backing vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and cartwheelers – Charley and Hattie from Kent have at the studio desk here uber-producer, heavy-hitter and fan Peter Asher (James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, longtime senior vice-president at Sony). And you can guess...

BOB DYLAN'S HIGHWAY REVISITED AT 33, 45 AND 70: Back to mono

BOB DYLAN'S HIGHWAY REVISITED AT 33, 45 AND 70: Back to mono

When it was announced Bob Dylan had recorded an MTV Unplugged session in late '94, a wag within earshot guffawed and said, "But wasn't he always?" Which was sort of true. There are any number of people across a few generations who have imprinted in their consciousness the image of the impossibly young Dylan, acoustic guitar in...

RUTHIE FOSTER: LIVE AT ANTONE'S (Fuse DVD)

RUTHIE FOSTER: LIVE AT ANTONE'S (Fuse DVD)

Many who witnessed the sad and rather shameful "performance" by BB King in Auckland's Civic this year (see review here) have walked away embarrassed for King  . . . but thrilled by his opening act, the great Ruthie Foster. Her joyous, powerful and good humoured (but also deeply sensitive) set of gospel, soul, blues and...

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