Odetta - The Albums Collection 1954-62

Published Wednesday 22nd August 2018
Odetta - The Albums Collection 1954-62
Odetta - The Albums Collection 1954-62

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 172033-27243
LABEL: Acrobat Music ACFCD7512

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

This sumptuous five disc 123-track box set from Discovery Records hones in on the album output of American singer/songwriter and civil rights activist Odetta Holmes starting with the 1954 'Odetta & Larry Mohr - The Tin Angel' release right up to 1962's 'Odetta At Town Hall' live album. For the most part, this compilation is dominated by Odetta's default sound of her unmistakably emotive voice backed only by her rudimentary but effective guitar playing and, whilst this reflected the folk scene format of her day, there is a sense that her sound needed something of a reinvention by the time you get to the third disc. That game-changing moment comes in the form of the superb 'Odetta And The Blues' album - one of no less than three LPs released in 1962 - and sees the great lady give the vocal performance of her career to date with the mood-lifting backing of a top notch Dixieland band led by pianist Dick Wellstood. Despite the relative lack of instrumental variety found elsewhere, what really comes across is the wide range of songs that Odetta was able to turn her hand to with nursery rhymes ("Three Pigs", "The Fox") and novelty songs (the Harry Belafonte duet "A Hole In The Bucket" - once a UK chart hit) sitting next to slave songs, spirituals, civil war hymns, folk ballads and much more. Reflecting the fact that her natural habitat was always in the live arena, the thunderous applause that immediately follows Odetta's breath-taking performance on the medley of "Oh Freedom", "Come And Go With Me" and "I'm On My Way" right at the very end of this collection says it all in terms of the ability and power of one of folk music's true legends.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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