Various Artists - Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt

Avalon Blues
A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt

Various Artists

Vanguard Records 79582-2

Vanguard Records
2700 Pennsylvania Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

There are two kinds of influencial artists: the first influences other artists to follow his road, and the second influences them to find their own road. If we judge by the results of this tribute CD, Mississipi John Hurt is part of the second group. Each song seems to be completely natural in the hands of all the artists performing them here. If we didnt know he was the writer of these songs and we heard them on one of their albums, we would be hard pressed to find any difference between them and the other songs they write.

The performers here all confess to have been influenced by Hurt, and some are still trying to learn some of his tricks on the guitar. Ben Harper says that "if it wasn't for Mississipi John Hurt, I would not be making music at all." It definitely seems that Hurt has been a major influence on all the artists singing on Avalon Blues.

Still, this is just one more tribute album. A nice one, and one you can listen to while driving or writing a letter, but not a great breakthrough. What will decide whether you like this album or not, is how many of the artists performing here appeal to you.

Chris Smither starts the album with a very good version of Frankie and Albert, performed acoustically, as is most of the album. Bruce Cockburn continues with a slightly less convincing cover of Avalon. Lucinda sounds like Lucinda Williams, and the same can be said for Ben Harper and Victoria Williams. Well, again, everything is good here, but nothing like Joe Cocker performing With A Little Help From My Friends. The album flows nicely, but there is not a single killer version of any of Hurt's songs that made me see the song differently, or fall off my chair.

My conclusion is that this is a nice CD to listen to, and you can even buy it as a present for a friend as an introduction to these artists, or buy it to listen to it in your car....

Track List:

  • Frankie & Albert - Chris Smither
  • Avalon, My Home Town - Bruce Cockburn
  • Angels Laid Him Away - Lucinda Williams
  • Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me - Alvin Youngblood Hart
  • Candy Man - Steve & Justin Earle
  • Monday Morning Blues - Peter Case & Dave Alvin
  • Sliding Delta - Ben Harper
  • Chicken - Geoff Muldaur (with Jenni & Claire Muldaur)
  • Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor - Mark Selby
  • Stagolee - Beck
  • Since I've Laid My Burden Down - Victoria Williams
  • Pay Day - Bill Morrissey
  • My Creole Belle - Taj Mahal
  • Beulah Land - Gillian Welch
  • I'm Satisfied - John Hiatt

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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