|All Artists: Levon Helm|
Title: Electric Dirt
Members Wishing: 22
Total Copies: 0
Label: Vanguard Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2009
Re-Release Date: 6/30/2009
Genres: Country, Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Genres: Country, Pop
Electric Dirt (Dirt Farmer Music/Vanguard Records) is the second album in the last two years from American musical treasure Levon Helm. Its predecessor, the GRAMMY-winning Dirt Farmer, his first solo LP in a quarter centu... more »
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Electric Dirt (Dirt Farmer Music/Vanguard Records) is the second album in the last two years from American musical treasure Levon Helm. Its predecessor, the GRAMMY-winning Dirt Farmer, his first solo LP in a quarter century, followed Levon's near miraculous recovery from throat cancer, and as such represented a new lease on life for the legendary artist, who rose to prominence as the drummer and vocalist for Levon and the Hawks, which later became The Band. Electric Dirt again finds Levon steeped in tradition in his connection to the land and those who live by it, but this record goes deeper and wider, incorporating gospel, blues and soul elements in a bracing collection of originals and carefully chosen outside songs. As with Dirt Farmer, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell took the reigns as producer and the album was recorded at "The Barn"- Levon Helm Studios. "Our objective here was to take the honesty, innocence and purity of the Dirt Farmer record which represents a true element of what Levon is all about, but also expand on that and explore deeper the goldmine of Levon's musical artistry" states Campbell.
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Stuart Jefferson | San Diego,Ca | 06/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One disc 46 minutes approximately. The sound is crisp yet warm,which suits Helm's songs and voice perfectly.
This album is a continuation of Helm's fine previous (Grammy winning) release "Dirt Farmer",yet it builds on that album's feel. This time out there are electric guitars that replace the previous albums overall acoustic sound. Yet "Electric Dirt" has that same lived in,down-home feel,due in large part to Helm's wonderful aching vocals. The arrangements by Larry Campbell are just right,making each track stand out yet all the tracks form a seamless whole. A combination of up-tempo tracks combine with slower tunes that show Helm's voice is comfortable with either one. His voice sounds most authentic on the slower tracks,which give the feeling of this music being much older than it is. In some ways Helm's voice and inflection (though Helm's voice is in a lower range) sounds a bit like the wonderful Roscoe Holcomb (give Holcomb a try if you want to go deeper into this style of music),a favorite of Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton,who sang about his times in the Kentucky Mountains.
The band is made up of Helm's musician pals from his famous "barn" concerts in Woodstock,N.Y. This is important to someone with Helm's authentic musical credentials that go back many years to his most famous group,THE BAND. Helm's voice needs the sympathetic back-up from musicians who know his music intimately. Instrumentation ranges from guitars to fiddles to mandolins to accordions,with a touch of keyboards mixed in,along with the standard rhythm section. On four tracks there is a small horn section which helps flesh out the music.
The songs are a combination of the well known ("Tennessee Jed",made famous by the GRATEFUL DEAD,"Stuff You Gotta Watch" and "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had",by Muddy Waters) to a song by Carter Stanley,and one tune by the great writer Randy Newman,among others. Together these songs blend together to make another inspired release by Helm. The vocals are helped along by his daughter Amy Helm and Teresa Williams,which give those tracks added feel and depth. But the tracks that feature Helm alone on vocals are the most riveting. There is so much feeling wrapped up in his voice that the words sometimes take a backseat to his arresting style.
This album is another example of "American" music,music that has it's roots in times past. The combination of good songs,good playing,and Helm's lived-in,seen-it-all,last chance voice is the real deal. Listeners who liked Helm's previous album,"Dirt Farmer",will find this album to be a fine companion to it.
If you haven't heard Levon Helm you're missing some real music played and sung by someone special. This album is refreshing,it's honest music played honestly. For that reason it stands out from most everything today. Do yourself a favor and pick this up."
o dubhthaigh | north rustico, pei, canada | 07/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is more appropriately the best album the Band never made. It certainly is Levon's best. A follow up to Dirt Farmer, but with more punch, the band crackles all the way through and both his daughter Amy and Larry Campbell are stalwart colleagues who deliver the goods. Amy is amazing - she her old man's swagger and sway with a voice full of the deep south and close to the floor. Campbell is not just an amazing guitarist. He obliterates whatever it was that Robertson once brought to Levon's efforts.
And that is critical. In many of the tunes, one's imagination immediately inserts virtual harmonies from Danko and and Manuel. Of course, they're gone, but you can almost hear them coming in. The horns would put you in mind of the wonder that Hudson would effect. As for Levon Helm's drumming, he has a snap, roll and swing in finer form than I have ever heard. His voice is back as well. Midnight Rambles and time have brought a large measure of restoration to one of America's most iconic singers.
The songwriting is crisp and draws on Muddy Waters, Happy Traum, Jerry Garcia, Levon and Larry Campbell, Pop Staples and Carter Stanley, among others. "When I Go Away" ranks with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
All in all, superb in every regard. Pick this up!"
Wonderful if you like the full Ramble Sound
F. Tyndall | Gainesville, Florida United States | 06/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you liked Dirt Farmer, but prefer the fuller sound of his live Rambles, then this is the album for you. More upbeat, and featuring more horns, this album sounds like the Ramble, but with better production than most of the recordings I have of the Ramble on the Road.
Larry Campbell's production and playing both sound great. Levon's voice is strong. Even after first listen some of the new songs are pretty catchy and the covers are almost perfectly done.