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Ramblin' Jack Elliott

South Coast – 1995 (Red House)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Ramblin' Jack Elliott

From its earliest Elizabethan and Appalachian beginnings country has been the music telling a story. Unfortunately, some stories it tells have gotten a little thin lately. But Ramblin' Jack packs more depth in terms of plot and characterization in four minutes than most novelists do in 300 pages. The title song is about a man who wins a wife in a card game and the tragedy that later befalls the couple. There are four songs from Ramblin' Jack's mentor Woody Guthrie, and they are just as powerful and as true as they were when Woody wrote them. "Pastures of Plenty" with its ironic contrast between the migrant grape pickers and the rich people with their "light, sparkling wine" and "I Ain't Got No Home" about the plight of the homeless in particular stand out. Elliott is a true living legend, the "father of Bob Dylan"and the lone practitioner of the troubadour tradition. This is his first full-length domestic release in 27 years. And well worth waiting for.