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Cisco Houston: The Folkways Years, 1944-1961
Cisco Houston
Cisco Houston: The Folkways Years, 1944-1961
Genres: Folk, Pop
  •  Track Listings (29) - Disc #1

Houston (1918?1961) was a vital figure in the folk music movement of the 1940s and 1950s. These 29 songs (including two with Woody Guthrie) feature material Cisco learned while working and traveling across the country: cow...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Cisco Houston
Title: Cisco Houston: The Folkways Years, 1944-1961
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
Original Release Date: 4/28/1994
Re-Release Date: 5/1/1994
Genres: Folk, Pop
Style: Traditional Folk
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 093074005927, 093074005941


Album Description
Houston (1918?1961) was a vital figure in the folk music movement of the 1940s and 1950s. These 29 songs (including two with Woody Guthrie) feature material Cisco learned while working and traveling across the country: cowboy songs, railroad songs, hobo songs, union songs, work songs, protest songs, children?s songs, and love songs. Guy Logsdon?s notes about Cisco?s life provide a rich background and complement this collection. Includes A Better World A Comin?, I Ain?t Got No Home, and Rambling, Gambling Man. Compiled by Guy Logsdon. "An exhilarating romp through the classic American folk repetoire." ?NY Daily News

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CD Reviews

Pure unadulterated American folk music.....
Mark Eastman | Chapel Hill | 05/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Folkways Years (1944-1961) is the necessary companion to his Vanguard compilation. With the two single disc anthologies you'll have a very good though not complete musical picture of this great folk singer who succumbed to cancer at the age in 42 in April, 1961. The music here is spare, authentic and often haunting, for the most part just Cisco and his acoustic guitar in the studio. The dates are a bit misleading because, with the exception of 3 songs recorded with Woody Guthrie in 1944 (Cisco sings harmony) and his solo version of Strawberry Roan (which could very well be his first known solo recording), all the others were recorded in the 1950's before he switched to Vanguard for his final 3 albums. Two of the Guthrie corroborations (...Deep Blue Sea and Picture from Life's Other Side - also with Beth Lomax Hawes harmoninzing) show a different side to both; they are old-timey country tunes which could have been performed by the Monroe Brothers, Browns Ferry Four or similar group. Better World a Comin', the pro-union anthem, is done with Guthrie in a neo-spiritual manner. The other 25 songs run the gamut from humorous larks (Intoxicated Rat, Frozen Logger, Great July Jones), melancholy ballads (Hobo Bill's Last Ride made famous by Jimmie Rodgers; Dark As a Dungeon); traditional folk (Pat Works On the Railroad; The Fox); social commentary (I Ain't Got No Home; Hard Traveling; Pie in the Sky); Cowboy and Western Songs (Diamond Joe, I Ride an Old Paint, Zebra Dun, The Killer), railroad songs (900 Miles). This album contains his definitive versions of Dark as a Dungeon and Diamond Joe, both far better than the recordings on his Vanguard disc. Other great songs include The Killer, Passing Through, I Ain't Got No Home and Rambling, Gambling Man. World class notes and booklet by professor and author Guy Logsdon with detailed biographical summary of Cisco's life, song background and recording information. Overall, a quality package, what you'd expect from Smithsonian/Folkways. Highly recommended."
A woefully forgotten voice in many good performances
Mark Eastman | 03/08/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Cisco Houston had an extraordinary voice. I listened to my parents' scratchy old Vanguard records and was in awe. 35 years later I still am. Woody Gutherie wrote, but Cisco could sing. This record is an eclectic collection, ranging from pedestrain to spectacular, but his glorious voice makes even the silliest song sound good. Fine guitar playing to accompany it. Now we need those Vanguard records redone!And 2 years later they are--get 'em while you can! Again, not perfect, but awfully tasty!"
Without Cisco, any Woody Guthrie collection is incomplete...
William E. Adams | Lovington, NM United States | 09/24/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I discovered Cisco back in the early l960's when I was in high school and The Kingston Trio led me to Woody. I fell in love with his vocals and guitar-playing, and to me he was better than Woody at both singing and pickin'. Woody wrote the immortal songs, but at that time Cisco recorded the best versions, more accessible than Woody's, yet more "authentic" than the covers by the folkies who popped up in the late 50's and the early 60's. Cisco and Woody were not only fine friends of long-standing who developed their gifts together; Cisco was also broke, also handicapped (almost blind), also often blacklisted, and also met a tragic end (cancer took him before Woody died of Chorea.) Personally, I have either heard or owned just about everything Cisco ever released on record. For the most consistently enjoyable recordings, I vote for the Vanguard collection, which presents his final works. For the best historical recordings, however, this collection cannot be beaten. The versions here are sparse and under-produced compared to the Vanguard sessions, but when you listen, you cannot help but see Cisco (and sometimes Woody) sitting in a tiny studio with guitar, in the early l940's, making these tracks for love, not for money. As one would expect with Smithsonian products, the accompanying booklet is almost worth the price of the CD without the dang music. There are 29 tracks, and less than half-a-dozen are written by Woody...while that fact is probably why you won't play it as often as the "Vanguard Years" collection, this album shows us clearly the kinds of songs that Cisco and Woody performed most often at Union Halls, Communist Party events and on radio shows. For the best Cisco collection, buy this plus "The Best of the Vanguard Years." Cisco's life story would make a powerful movie in the right hands. He deserves wider recognition as a positive force in helping Woody Guthrie eventually become "Woody Guthrie.""