17. Jack Elliott – Jack Takes the Floor


I guess one of the hazards of mining 55 years back is that the further back you go, the more obscure albums get hidden. It took me a couple of listens to a compilation album with exactly the same title of this before I realised I was listening to the wrong thing. Shame really, because this was a treat I was missing (although I did get to hear a mellow cover of “Rock Island Line”).

It’s 1958 now, on the cusp of the sixties, Robert Zimmerman is tuning up his guitar, Joan Baez is clearing her throat and folk music is gathering momentum. This might just prove to have been the catalyst. It’s simple, it’s short (just 31 minutes), and Elliott bridges the gap between Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan with hard-edged but perfectly crafted covers of obscure old tracks. For all the ferocity of the guitar, it’s a gentle, effortless listen, and tracks like “San Francisco Bay Blues” get you tingling. And, having mainly been acquainted with The White Stripes session cover, his mellower version of “Boll Weevil” was a pleasant surprise.

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