Wednesday, August 10, 2016

40 Year Itch : Her Blue Velvet Perfume

Arlo Guthrie : Darkest Hour

In August of 1976 Arlo Guthrie released his most critically acclaimed album, Amigo. This incredibly diverse collection earned a rare five star "masterpiece" rating from the Rolling Stone Record Guide and finished ahead of Bob Dylan's Desire in the Village Voice's Pazz and Jop Critics Poll. It is also Guthrie's personal favorite album. Naturally it didn't sell, peaking at 133 on the Billboard album charts.

It is impossible to sum up Amigo with one song. The album opens with a Zulu children's song ("Guabi Guabi") and closes with a Rolling Stones cover ("Connection").  "Walking Song" sounds like a Fleetwood Mac outtake while Robert Christgau, in his A- album review called "Victor Jara" the most painful protest song in recent memory (including Dylan's "Hurricane"). There's a song about his home state ( "Massachusetts") and another about the protesters of the 60's losing their zeal ("Patriot's Dream"). 

My deep cut pick  is "Darkest Hour", which has a nice bounce and feels like a successful Dylan love song. Had Guthrie recorded an entire album of love songs, and not one of such variety, it might have sold better. That;'s something Guthrie has heard more than once . His response to the Christian Science Monitor:

Two people can see the same thing (differently). One can call it versatility and the other lack of continuity. We only have so much we can do. I'm not filled with thousands of songs bursting and then being able to choose the ten best. I don't write that much.

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