Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Cotton Eyed Joe(The Loop Tapes) – Live In Boulder 1962


Karen Dalton remained for too many years lost in the shadows. Present in early 60s Greenwich Village, and immortalised in a marvellous onstage photo with Fred Neil and Bob Dylan at Café Wha in 1961, she was to record but two albums in her lifetime. She died forgotten in 1993 and initial CD reissues faltered through widespread indifference.

It was grossly unfair to a splendid singer with a unique voice; someone once described her as “the woman who sounds like a clarinet”. Taking traditional material, blues and jazz standards, accompanying them with guitar and banjo, she made them into entrancing and seductive siren songs. She strongly influenced people who went on to greater fame; Tim Hardin was especially taken by her and listening attentively you hear it.

These 1962 reel-to-reel recordings, raw live performances from Boulder Colorado, take us back to very early days before most of the folkies had even started writing. These are songs they all cut their teeth on like Guthrie’s ‘Pastures Of Plenty’, Leroy Carr’s ‘In The Evening’, and Lead Belly’s ‘Good Morning Blues’. There are traditional songs like ‘Katie Cruel’ and ‘Mole In The Ground’, and then two from Neil, ‘Blues On The Ceiling’ and ‘Red Are The Flowers’.

Dalton makes each of them new and special while reaching across the years to condemn us for our neglect. The survival of this time capsule speaks to some special beneficence for which we should all be suitably grateful.


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