The fifth in the re-release Bob Gibson Legacy series, this is an anthology of the previous four with three previously unreleased cuts. With Living Legend, the series is complete…at least insofar as the indie releases go. There a number of major label LPs besides these, as well as various individual compositions appearing elsewhere, and a pretty impressive wealth of work in various venues (TV, stage, etc.), all of which I must suspect pose tremendous licensing difficulties, so one would be best advised not to expect that material to appear in a second-half releasing schedule.
The lead cut was written with Phil Ochs, That's the Way It's Gonna Be, and almost divinely appropriate as the quintessential intro to Gibson. From there, all the tracks are well chosen, but, since I reviewed all four CDs in this forum, I'll concentrate on the unreleased materials, beginning with The Dolphins, a highly unusual piece for Gibson, hugely mellow and wispy, produced to a degree seen only in his Uptown Saturday Night release, though not quite in this vein. Critics might be tempted to say the song is even overproduced in contrast with the entire Gibson catalogue, but the beauty of the cut chokes that off.
Smoke Dawson is a balladic number firmly in the elder Gibson tradition, Guthrie-Seeger-ish and historical in intent, the song is well recorded, sounding as though cut yesterday. Whatever Meridian Green, his daughter, was doing to resurrect her dad's legacy technically, she certainly paid careful attention to engineering and restoration values, much like Janey Hendrix has done for her brother Jimi's re-issuance series. Backed by a studio band, the song is smooth and mellow, smoky with imputed age and almost an outtake from a narrative film about the old West.
Sing for the Song features the rare appearance of a piano, making the cut recital-ish, not exactly the best forum for Gibson, a little too sweet and a bit too much a concession to the mainstream. It is not Gibson's best cut but just about worthy enough of remembrance especially because he's once gain duetting with Hamilton Camp and the piece achieves a Paul Williams resonance…er, though not Williams' best either.
This CD is recommended for those unsure of or unfamiliar with Gibson's materials. Once again, I have to turn to The Perfect High, which is oddly only excerpted once here, as Gibson's most untouchably superb release, but this will do quite nicely in lieu, quite nicely indeed.
[For an extensive historical intro to Gibson's place in the folk firmament, see the review for Funky in the Country, here.]
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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