Country / Roots:
WOODY GUTHRIE, “American Radical Patriot,” (Rounder, 4 stars; 6 CDs, 1 DVD, $139.98)
The iconic folksinger’s complete 1941 Library of Congress recordings are presented here in full for the first time. The songs are familiar (“Do-Re-Mi,” “Dust Bowl Refugee,” “Pretty Boy Floyd”), but it’s entertaining and illuminating to hear them delivered in the context of Guthrie’s storytelling about their origins and his upbringing in Oklahoma and Texas. The set also includes the 17 existing songs he wrote and recorded in 1942 for the Bonneville Power Authority (the DVD is a documentary about the incredibly prolific month he spent in the Pacific Northwest), as well as his work for the war effort and a public health campaign against VD. Everything here makes the case that, for all his reputation as a rabble-rousing lefty, Guthrie really was a patriot in the truest sense: He loved the best that Uncle Sam represented, but was not afraid to criticize when necessary. The hardcover-bound comes with a 60-page book and a PDF for a 258-page volume.
LEE HAZLEWOOD/VARIOUS ARTISTS, “There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving: Lee Hazlewood Industries 1966-1971,” (Light in the Attic, 4 stars; 8 CDs, $180)
Moody ‘60s composer, producer, cowboy Hazlewood not only crafted spaghetti-Western pop tunes for himself and occasional duet partner Nancy Sinatra, but the enigmatic wonder also had his own LHI label with a weirdly diverse roster (Mexicali folk heroes, country-politan crooners) doing songs penned and produced by Hazelwood. At 300-plus songs and one mini-movie, this woolly mammoth of a set, featuring Vegas goddess Ann-Margret, lesser-known lasses like Suzi Jane Hokom, and Hazelwood’s own deep rasp is a must for eccentric music aficionados.
— A.D. Amorosi
NASHBORO LABEL, “I Heard the Angels Singing: Electrifying Black Gospel from the Nashboro Label, 1951-1983,” (Tompkins Square, 4 stars; 4 CDs, $29.95)