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View Poll Results: What say you?
Unassailable 5 71.43%
Great 0 0%
Good 1 14.29%
Fair 1 14.29%
Poor 0 0%
Garbage 0 0%
Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-17-2018, 07:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Album Club: Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs - Elizabeth Cotten

Neapolitan‘s pick

Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs - Elizabeth Cotten

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Old 03-17-2018, 10:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you're interested in addition material, (and if you haven't seen it already and like to know a little bit more about Elizabeth Cotten) you can watch her together with Pete Seeger on his Rainbow Quest TV show. It goes a little bit into her story. She recalls how she got started, she would play her brothers banjo while he was at work. She also goes into how she met up with the Seegers. She is pictured with a Martin guitar both on the album cover, and is seen playing a Martin on the TV show. As Pete notices, she is left-handed and plays a right-handed guitar, but upside down. Which makes her style of playing pretty much unique.
(this is more of a introduction, a review from me later)

Elizabeth Cotten-Rainbow Quest Tv Show


Elizabeth Cotten - Freight Train And Other North Carolina Folk Songs And Tunes (1958)
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh man that interview with Pete Seeger is priceless

They way she plays is so incredibly economical. By that I mean she doesn’t waste a single movement. Her form is gorgeous to see. Obviously, especially her fingers but also her posture and her facial expression. I love Pete Seeger and I’ve always said he’s underrated as a musician but he’s a bit out of his depth there. She’s so polite and elegant it’s really hard to tell for sure but when Seeger first starts to play along she just kind of slightly glances at him. I get the feeling she was thinking yo dude I got this.

Absolutely precious footage. Thanks for posting that.
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OccultHawk Reviews Southern States

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There's probably some reasonable middle ground between Leave It to Beaver and being forced to suck your step-father's dick in the basement after your mom goes to work.
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Old 03-19-2018, 12:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by OccultHawk View Post
Oh man that interview with Pete Seeger is priceless

They way she plays is so incredibly economical. By that I mean she doesn’t waste a single movement. Her form is gorgeous to see. Obviously, especially her fingers but also her posture and her facial expression. I love Pete Seeger and I’ve always said he’s underrated as a musician but he’s a bit out of his depth there. She’s so polite and elegant it’s really hard to tell for sure but when Seeger first starts to play along she just kind of slightly glances at him. I get the feeling she was thinking yo dude I got this.

Absolutely precious footage. Thanks for posting that.
I thought she was looking at him for chord changes, but then again Pete is following her.
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Actually, I like you a lot, Nea. That's why I treat you like ****. It's the MB way.

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“I have nothing to offer anybody, except my own confusion.” ― Jack Kerouac.
“If one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will become the wrong kind of person.” – Aristotle.
"If you tried to give Rock and Roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." - John Lennon
"I look for ambiguity when I'm writing because life is ambiguous." — Keith Richards ☮ 💖 ♫ ∞ ἰχθύς
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Old 03-24-2018, 11:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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1. What were your VERY FIRST impressions on listening to the album, say from the first five minutes in?
Totally beautiful instrumental acoustic guitar piece, very hobo/train oriented. Loved it.

2. What did you think of the opening track?
Wasn't expecting it to be an instrumental, nor that good. Set me up for a really enjoyable album.

3. What did you think of the next track?
I believe this is her best known song, made famous by someone else. The first vocal song, very simple and very engaging. Again, great guitar work.


4. Did you like the vocalist? Hate him/her? Any impressions? (see note 1)
She was okay. I feel much of the vocalists in the genre could be characterised as just all right, but it's not about the singing, really; more about the feel, the emotions, the atmosphere and of course the guitars.

5. Did the music (only) generally appeal to you, or not? (see note 2)
yes, very much so. She was a great guitarist, the more so because I read she played left handed and used the guitar upside down?

6. Did the album get better or worse as you listened to it (first time)?
Much better

7. What did you think of the lyrical content?
Standard blues/folk fare, but seemed personal and sincere. Simple songs from a simple time. She didn't try to overcomplicate her songs, and they retain a sort of gospel feel too.

8. Did you like the instrumental parts? (see note 3)
I loved them, every one.

9. What did you think of the production?
Well it's a 1950s blues album, what do you expect?

10. Did you know of this artiste prior to listening to the album, and if so, did that foreknowledge colour your perception of this album?
No and no

11. Is this, generally, the kind of music you listen to or not?
I'll listen to this with no problem, but no, generally, not the sort of thing I tend to seek out. Perhaps I should.

12. Assuming you listened to the album more than once, on repeated listens, did you find you liked the album more, or less?
More

13. What would you class as your favourite track(s), if you have any?[/B]

“Wilson Rag”, “Freight Train”, “Graduation March”, “Vastopol”, “Here Old Rattler Here” (love the banjo work in this), “Sweet Bye and Bye” - pretty much all of them really, though I prefer the instrumentals. “Oh Babe it Ain't No Lie” is great, as is “When I Get Home”.



14. And the one(s) you liked least?

I don't really dislike any track here, but I could live without “Run, Run/Mama Your Son Done Gone”.

15. If the album in question is a debut, did that fact allow it, in your mind, any leeway, and if so, was that decision justified or vindicated? (see note 4)
n/a
16. Are you now looking forward to hearing more from this artiste, if you have not heard any of their other material?
I'd listen to more
17. Were you surprised by your reaction - positive or negative - to the album?
Kind of. I often don't like Neapolitan's picks, and usually when Occult calls an album “unassailable” I tend to disagree, but here I have to agree whole-heartedly.
18. Did the album end well?
Yes

19. Do you see any way the album could have been improved?

No

20. Do you think the album hung together well, ie was a fully cohesive unit, or was it a bit hit-and-miss?
Hung together well as a collection of songs

I'd rate this at 9.7/10
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Old 03-24-2018, 06:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Neapolitan was kind enough to invite me to comment on this album, so I thought I'd post this link to when it was last reviewed on MB:-

http://www.musicbanter.com/country-f...th-cotten.html

I'm pretty sure I voted "Good" on that occasion, but I have a confession to make; I don't think I've listened to the album once since then. That means that this album falls into that slightly uncomfortable category: it's good, can't find any real fault with it, but also I'm not much interested in this kind of music any more.
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Old 03-25-2018, 03:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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^ I feel about the same with this album. A couple of years or more ago, I probably would've rated this album a 9.5/10 or higher. Since then, I've lost a bit of interest in the album and this type of music in general. I still think she was a wonderful guitarist and I love her choice of songs on the album but I just don't have the enthusiasm for it that I used to. And I used to overlook the fact that she couldn't sing because I was more focused on her guitar playing but now her vocals just tend to detract from the songs when I listen to them.

So I'll give this a 7.5/10
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Old 03-25-2018, 04:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My mind is just all over the place on this album

I don't enjoy how some of the songs kinda sound like children's songs, especially Freight Train, and I've got to say I mostly find her vocals close to unlistenable. It's not only her voice in itself, it's also the way she phrases the lines that I find annoying. Freight Train is an all too good example of this. There's also a sort of thin, whiny quality to her voice, which I don't think has been helped by her much advanced age.

On the other hand, it's not hard to see how the sheer "rootsy", down to earth qualities of her singing and guitar playing can be highly appealing to some. This album sounds like you're sitting on a porch, in another thime, with some old people who spontaneously decided to break out their instruments.

The songs on this album are numerous, but very short. I've got to say that I found this configuration a mercy, since each individual song doesn't necessarily have many different parts or much development. Each song lays out a simple guitar progression and vocal line, then plays it through a few times, and that's it. I like folk music, but this very old, traditional stuff tends to bore me. That's just honest talk. Joan Baez has at times played songs written well before her time, but Baez has golden pipes, so that's way easier for me to get along with.

I don't know why I'm so reluctant to just outright say that I dislike the album. Maybe it's that the music clearly exhibits traits that are generally considered to be what folk music is - or should be - all about? I also don't find it hard to listen to. I'm just acutely aware of how it's not really doing much for me either. I just kind of want to turn it off and put on some Joan Baez.

I don't listen to extremely much folk music. I'm more into the somewhat related, rather vague genre of "singer/songwriter". But both the kind of folk that I do like, plus some singer/songwriter artists draw on a lot of these kinds of old folk music styles, but transformed and combined with multitudes of other influences. So perhaps I feel like this is a bit too much like going back to basics for me. Just like I - many apologies - just cannot listen to 50's Rock'n'roll and not feel somewhat bored by it.

I'm giving it a score of "fair", which might actually show a lack of honesty, since I suspect I kind of feel more like bumping it 1 more step down the ladder. I guess it's hard to argue for any obvious faults, aside from her singing, so I don't feel like I can defend a lower score if someone calls bull****

Plus something Neapolitan said a while ago made me think. I really do tend to crap on Album Club albums more often than not, don't I?
EDIT: Lo and behold, I voted after posting and I'm the only one to go so low. I swear I'm not actively trying to be a party pooper. It's just my nature.
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Old 03-25-2018, 06:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Elizabeth Cotten-Rainbow Quest Tv Show
^ Yes, thanks for posting this interesting video, Neapolitan; it's one that gives a clear idea of "Libba's" serene personality. I love at one point when she says about her employer, "She kept a guii-tar on the kitchen door, hanging."

Another nice thing about your clip is that it led me to another clip where I learned that E.C. was born in 1895. That's 123 years ago! I also discovered to my surprise that she wrote "Shake it, sugaree." This is a delightful song, though I prefer the version by Fred Neil:-



( Read more about Fred Neil here:- http://www.musicbanter.com/country-f...led-album.html )

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The songs on this album are numerous, but very short. I've got to say that I found this configuration a mercy, since each individual song doesn't necessarily have many different parts or much development.
^ That's a really neat remark, MicShazam!

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... both the kind of folk that I do like, plus some singer/songwriter artists draw on a lot of these kinds of old folk music styles, but transformed and combined with multitudes of other influences. So perhaps I feel like this is a bit too much like going back to basics for me. Just like I - many apologies - just cannot listen to 50's Rock'n'roll and not feel somewhat bored by it.
^ Yes, we can hardly blame Elizabeth Cotton for the fact that the music industry has moved on beyond anything she could imagine, but also we can't put our modern sensibilities aside. I noticed it even in the Pete Seeger clip: seventeen minutes of sedate, undramatic tv of the kind that no post-MTV station would transmit today afaik.

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Originally Posted by MicShazam View Post
Plus something Neapolitan said a while ago made me think. I really do tend to crap on Album Club albums more often than not, don't I?
EDIT: Lo and behold, I voted after posting and I'm the only one to go so low. I swear I'm not actively trying to be a party pooper. It's just my nature.
^ Yeah, if I was a reg member of this club, I would've told you straight by now, "If you don't like our music, clear out and start your own club you miserable b*stard!"
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Old 03-25-2018, 11:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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This is a beautiful record. Her guitar playing is very pure and precise. If I didn't have such a hard on for good fingerpicking, I'd probably be in the "nothing wrong with it but I'm not really interested" boat with you guys. Her singing, while weakened by age, is very earnest and humble in a way because she doesn't front like she's more than who she is. That also gives it that oft-mentioned "simpler times" charm. When I listen to Freight Train knowing that she wrote it at 11 years old, it's like I can hear her childhood memories when she sings. As the Italian captain said about his sinking ship: it's un-a-sailable! (even though I totally get where detractors are coming from on this).
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