Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Sings Ballads & Blues
Genres: Blues, Folk, Pop, Gospel
From the opening notes of "Santy Anno," it's easy to hear how Odetta's singing inspired Bob Dylan to trade in his electric guitar for an acoustic and start playing folk music. Her deep, rich voice, captured here in its pri... more »
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From the opening notes of "Santy Anno," it's easy to hear how Odetta's singing inspired Bob Dylan to trade in his electric guitar for an acoustic and start playing folk music. Her deep, rich voice, captured here in its prime, has the power and expression of Ma Rainey or (dare we say it?) Bessie Smith. This CD reissue of Sings Ballads and Blues, Odetta's debut, makes her earliest recording available for a whole new generation. Odetta's expressive range was impressive even at the time of this recording, made when she was 25. She could be slow and sad ("If I Had a Ribbon Bow," "'Buked and Scorned") or uptempo and dramatic ("Santy Anno," "Been in the Pen"). "God's Gonna Cut You Down" is especially indicative of her dynamic control, as she goes from just above a whisper to an almost-shout with ease. Though Odetta is primarily thought of as a folk singer, there's no question that she was influenced by early women blues singers as well as acoustic blues players such as Leadbelly. And her influence, both in folk and blues, is considerable. As a most obvious example, one can hear echoes of her "Easy Rider" in the version later recorded by Janis Joplin. --Genevieve Williams
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40 years of listening to Odetta--can do better elsewhere
J. C Clark | Overland Park, KS United States | 07/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A moderate disappointment, this LP showcases the very early, and somewhat tentative Odetta. A transfer of her first LP, this 16 song disc provides a look at someone who would become a truly great singer and guitarist, but has not yet achieved that. Many of these songs were recorded again later, with much more satisfying results. And the addition of Bill Lee on bass was inspired; on the familiar cuts, that missing bass is really missing.It is not a total loss. No Odetta disc could ever be. I think she was the finest female singer of the folk movement, a voice that went right through the ears into the soul. And she does that on a few of these. 'Buked and Scorned is as touching a song as she ever recorded, and here, the treatment is perfect. A softer God's Gonna Cut You Down comes off as not weaker than her later, powerhouse, version but quite different, more fearful, less threatening. And the concluding trilogy is quite good.But mostly I prefer the later versions of these songs, readily available on other compilations. Her live recording from The Tin Angel, from about the same time, is also more satisfying. A bargain price makes it more attractive, but it is certainly not essential. And hey guys, the print on this disc is dreadful. Huge spacing between very small tan letters on black background makes it very hard to read. And the font on the inside, also quite annoying. On a 12" disc it would be fine, but compressed to this size, it is ugly and hard to read."
What a discovery!
Sasha | at sea...sailing somewhere | 01/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I heard Odetta yesterday for the first time - was surprised that this album was sort of deja-vu experience:there was a constant feeling like I heard this before.And I understand why.The first Joan Baez album (for Vanguard,circa 1960.) sound very very similar,with traditional songs and only spare guitar backing.Then again,I heard traces of Odetta in Joan Armatrading.And her passion is not dissimilar of Mahalia Jackson's,both women share that wonderful contralto that make them sound as they are possesed by music.Saying this,I must admit that Odetta is very much her own woman with spectacular strong music presence and althought this (her first) album was focused on traditional folk material,I have feeling she could have sing gospel or jazz or classical music and still it would be magic."