Jack Elliott - Jack Takes The Floor - Review
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critics' view

It was Jack Takes The Floor, which I first heard in 1966, that made me an instant Jack Elliott fan. And I mean instant. And I still am. This album was like a mini-documentary, I'd never heard anything like it. Jack, guitar pickin', lazily and humorously introducing each song with a wry setup before easing into some of the most beautiful, raw documentations of the songs of the deep heart of America. Jack never claimed to be a blues singer or have much knowledge of the blues. Listen to Ol' Riley and Dink's Song and Black Baby and know that he is fibbing. He IS a blues singer. For me, it's the sweetest, blackest blues I ever heard a white man do. And he picked it up from the source, hearing the songs played in the parts of America they were made, while travelling with Woody Guthrie. Bob Dylan, years later, hung with Jack and learned what Jack had to offer. And once you've heard this, the deep source of the mellow humour in Arlo's Alice's Restaurant starts to come into view. The warm smokiness of setting up a tale with a bit of guitar-pickin'… no rush, take your time and let it flow. Whatever you do, buy this one. 1958 recording in London, later reissued as Muleskinner. This is a pivotal record that most of the subsequent heroes of the 60s (particularly in Britain) cut their teeth on. I paraphrase Jack from memory here: "Well, Rod Stewart played me those old songs on the guitar, and I know he had the record because he made all of the same mistakes I did."

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