"Ramblin' Jack Elliott's return to recording -- this is his third CD in recent years -- after a silence of more than 25 years is gratifying. And in Roy Rogers, who put together this and the previous CD, he's found a sympathetic producer who can actually make Elliott's erratic sound mesh with other instruments. The Long Ride, however, is an uneven, sometimes bumpy excursion. "Connection," the old Rolling Stones song that opens the disc, is essentially a throwaway. "Cup of Coffee," six+ minutes of Elliott and Tom Russell clowning around, is amusing once. "With God on Our Side" is every bit as clunky and ham-fisted as it was when a very young Bob Dylan wrote it in the early 1960s. "Ranger's Command" and Tom Waits's "Pony" are both good songs which deserve better than the shaky treatments here. On the other hand, the duets on two traditional folk standards, "St. James Infirmary" (with Dave Van Ronk) and "East Virginia Blues" (with Dave Alvin), border on perfection. Russell and Elliott rehabilitate their musical partnership with a suitably dark, brooding take on Russell's grim Western ballad "The Sky Above and the Mud Below." A Woody-and-Cisco anecdote -- can there ever be enough of these? -- engagingly introduces the venerable 19th-Century parlor weeper and old-time country staple "Picture from Life's Other Side." In short: this is about half of a successful recording."
The Cowboy Poet Bob Dylan Started Out to Be
Steve D. Marsh | Southeast Michigan | 02/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you know Ramblin' Jack Elliott already, you know what you are in for. If you don't, what you are in for is a treat! There are better voices in the business and the there are better guitar players too. But there is no one with more deep-in-the-soul honesty than Ramblin' Jack. And remember Jack's an old man on this recording. You get all of those years of hard living and the accumulation of decades of contemplation of the human condition. My personal favorite is Cup of Coffee, a long (6 minutes) and kind of winding talking tale about the life of a truck driver that sounds like Bob Dylan of the 1960s at the age of 65 or more. His version of St. James Infirmary is hauntingly sad...but again with all that painful honesty that is Jack Elliott. And finally, With God on Our Side clocks in at 7:32 and it is the perfect blend of Jack's airy old voice and Bob Dylan's young man writing. Powerful commentary on the futility of war and the frailty of human life. You would have to search pretty hard to find a better marriage of artistic generations."
THANK GOD FOR JACK ELLIOTT
Ray N. | California, USA | 04/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THANK GOD FOR RAMBLIN' JACK ELLIOTT
I've been a fan of Ramblin' Jack since the early 70's, and have had the honor and joy of seeing him in concert about six times. Yes, Jack's getting on in years, but he still picks guitar with the best of them, and his vocal phrasing continues to be a gift from the Almighty Something-or-other, to us. Jack's a music machine, one with (to paraphrase one of his songs) about two million miles on it, a machine designed and made-to-order for the expression of music. He's the real deal, folks.
As for this record, The Long Ride, I've listened to it only about, oh, two million times (where have I heard that before?) Sure, maybe it's not as great as Kerouac's Last Dream, which I think might be Jack's finest record. (Hell, it would be anybody's finest record.)
But to call The Long Ride "dreadful," as did the last person to review this record, is beyond my befuddled comprehension.
Where to begin? Jack's earthy voice is a perfect match for these songs, like Ernie Tubb's country classic, "Take Me Back and Try Me One More Time." And Jack's a terrific guitar player. (He invented this stuff. Taught it to Bob Dylan; taught it to Woody's kid, Arlo; taught it to the thousand of us folks in the US and Europe and all over this world, listening to his records, trying to figure out how he did it). His guitar playing really shines on "Cup of Coffee," and on the capo-way-up-high-on-the-fret board, gorgeous "Ranger's Command."
Back to the songs. "True Blue Jeans" would make an incredible ad for Levi's, if Jack were willing to sell out. If Levis had a sense of humor. Jack sure does have a sense of humor (How else does anyone make it to `round about 70?) And his humor burbles through several of the songs on this album, most notably "Cup of Coffee," and "Pony." Every time I listen to "Cup of Coffee," I smile LARGE and I smile WIDE, as this is one of the funniest versions of Jack's song that he's recorded. The great Tom Russell's input doesn't hurt, of course.
I love the duets on The Long Ride, particularly the harmony on "Pictures From Life's Other Side." Jack and Tom Russell give us a moving and memorable version of Tom's brilliant song, "The Sky Above and the Mud Below." Back and forth, Jack trades verses with Tom, the two of them sharing the song. Jack's a generous man, willing to share the stage with Maria Muldaur, with Tom, with Dave Alvin, with Dave Van Ronk, with anyone. He wouldn't need to. He likes the music, is all. Actually, he loves the music. And I, and many others, love him for it.
I'd like to end as I began- giving thanks. This time around I want to thank Jack.
THANK YOU, JACK ELLIOTT. LONG MAY YOU RIDE.
Your friend, Ray "
What can I say?
Oswald Placeres | Netherlands | 04/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not know too much about country music. But, the only reason I bought this CD is because there is a song that I like( St. James Infirmary), and I wanted to hear it from a country singer and see what it would sound like. The other songs have a nice rhythm to them. I think it's a good CD."