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Arlo Guthrie explains the impetus for this compilation, drawn largely from his Warner/Reprise catalog, in the liner notes. "I visited a radio station (once)," he writes, "and they gave me a CD version of an older collection of mine [presumably 1977's The Best of Arlo Guthrie], asking me to pick some songs for them to play while I was there. There was only one song that seemed appropriate [presumably his sole chart hit, "City of New Orleans"]. I left feeling that it would be a good idea to release a new collection quickly, in case I ever got stuck in that situation again." Guthrie's concern is understandable, since the songs he's known for tend to be novelties like the lengthy "Alice's Restaurant" and the doper's lament "Coming into Los Angeles." For this collection, he has gone through his recorded work and picked a bunch of songs he likes, tying them into a theme expressed by the title, that is, a travelogue ranging from "Oklahoma Nights" to "Waimanalo Blues." The actual title song, taken from his last new album, 1986's Someday, is one of his best original compositions, an anthemic declaration about the continuance of social activism into the ‘80s that leads off the disc. The closer is his version of Ed McCurdy's topical folk classic "(Last Night I Had The) Strangest Dream," which finds the world coming together "to put an end to war." The rest of the disc isn't nearly so political, but it is varied. Older numbers like "Ukulele Lady" and "Miss the Mississippi and You" find Guthrie venturing into a repertoire that might seem more suited to Leon Redbone. Songs like Jimmy Webb's "Oklahoma Nights" and Richard Thompson's "When I Get to the Border" are terrific no matter who's performing them. It might be possible to pick an entirely different bunch of songs from Guthrie's recorded work and come up with an album just as good as this one. But the collection does show off much of what he has done best in his career, while largely soft-pedaling the novelty aspect of his music.
Review by William Ruhlmann
|1||All Over the World||3:23|
|6||Miss the Mississippi and You||2:55|
|7||When I Get to the Border||3:52|
|8||City of New Orleans||4:32|
|13||(Last Night I Had The) Strangest Dream||2:48|
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