Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

 |   |  1 min read

Levon Helm: The Mountain
Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

If anyone has won the right to sings songs of life on hard scrabble farms it is Levon Helm, the former drummer/singer/mandolin player in the Band who grew up on a cotton farm near a town called Turkey Scratch in Arkansas.

His group -- called for a time Levon and the Hawks -- backed Ronnie Hawkins, linked up with Bob Dylan and became simply The Band.

Many consider Helm the authentic voice and soul of that group, and certainly he sang on some of their most memorable and earthy material such as The Weight, Up On Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

After the Band split he played a part in Coal Miner's Daughter as Loretta Lynn's father, a part which was hardly a stretch for him as he is a genuine son of the soil himself. Which makes this album of country-blues, aching folk ballads and a sense of old time spirituality so convincing.

Now 67 and a survivor of throat cancer, Helm has made the best solo album of his career and to help him he has some fine company: longtime Dylan guitarist/fiddle player Larry Campbell, his daughter Amy (who co-produced the album with Campbell) and Brian Mitchell on piano.

With songs by Julie and Buddy Miller, Steve Earle and Paul Kennerley alongside traditional songs Helm grew up with, this is a moving, must-hear for anyone who enjoyed the Band at their most rural or Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and its offshoots.

 

This won best traditional folk album in the Grammys held in February 2008

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

JJ Grey and Mofro: This River (Southbound)

JJ Grey and Mofro: This River (Southbound)

Hard traveling and prolific JJ Grey and his horn-embellished band have been serving up a mix of Southern soul, New Orleans funk and swamp rock for such a long time now you'd think they might have... > Read more

Brett Dennen: Lover Boy (Dualtone/Border)

Brett Dennen: Lover Boy (Dualtone/Border)

This fine singer-songwriter who is clearly in the pop camp on this outing, has appeared a couple of times previously at Elsewhere but never seems to get much attention elsewhere -- except when some... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Roger Waters: Money, demo (1972)

Roger Waters: Money, demo (1972)

One of the most interesting aspects of popular music reissues is when an expanded edition of a classic album (or artist) offers working drawings of songs which became -- usually much embellished or... > Read more

THE WHITEHALL MANDARIN by EDWARD WILSON

THE WHITEHALL MANDARIN by EDWARD WILSON

Consider how ripe the political pickings of the late 50s and early 60s are for anyone writing a spy thriller. There is cigar-chomping Castro in Cuba helming a people's... > Read more