Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack Ost

Album cover art for upc 015707957526
Label: WELK / EMI
Catalog: 795752
Format: CD

Elliot Ramblin' Jack

This is an above-average soundtrack to a revelatory documentary about folk singer Ramblin' Jack Elliott, made by his daughter Aiyana Elliott with Dick Dahl. Now any time one reads about this Ramblin' Jack Elliott character, it has to somewhere state that Elliott is "the link between Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan." And there certainly is truth to this--he was the last traveling companion of Guthrie and taught Dylan much about folk music. Two of the most interesting cuts on the disc are "Hard Travelin," sung with Guthrie (the first known recording of the two together, discovered while preparing the CD) and "Acne," a playful, previously unheard doo-wop parody with Dylan recorded live on the radio in 1961. The duet with Johnny Cash is rough but pretty great too. But the real import of this disc (and film) is to show Ramblin' Jack as a distinctive, itinerant musician firmly at the center of folk-music history. When he toured the U.K. in the 1950s he single-handedly introduced traditional American folk stylings to a nation wrapped up in the whiffy-twee fad of skiffle music. His nimble flatpicking, strong voice, and unstoppable storytelling are in evidence on his covers of songs by Tim Hardin, Jesse Fuller, and Guthrie. All the rare and unreleased cuts make Ballad a no-brainer choice for die-hard folkies. For neophytes who can stand audio quality that leans toward the archival, the disc also stands as the finest introduction yet to R.J.E.'s entire oeuvre. --Mike McGonigal

Price: $21.98