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Home > Music

A Mighty Wind: music recommendations

There's no shortage of reviews of A Mighty Wind explaining who the reviewer thinks were the inspirations for the fake bands in the movie, and going on to point out that '60s American bubblegum-folk was terrible music.

Well, duh. But this leaves you wondering: why did the Spinal Tap guys like this folk scene so much? Surely something good must have come out of it?

Well, of course it did! And - just as obviously - you want to steer clear of the comedy folk and rural pastiches that we see the New Main Street singers belting out in the film. So here's your TFT Guide To The Good End Of '60s American Folky Crapola.

19 January 2004

From the Mitch & Mickey corner


For the pretty duets and we-love-each-other harmonies: give an ear to Richard and Mimi Fariña's work on Vanguard. The beatnik novelist and bobby-dazzling ingénue sound wonderful together, especially on "Reflections in a crystal wind". All their work is here. Lovely.

For the kiss that their generation didn't get over: Mimi's sister (Joan Baez) and Bob Dylan reunited to take the train around small American towns to play in church halls with a bunch of gypsies, beatniks and David Bowie's guitarist. Best duet: "The water is wide".

From the Mitch Cohen Solo Corner


For the former commercial triumph on his own and feeling blue: Tim Buckley was once tied up with the commercial end of '60s LA folking, but went his own way, never bettering this 1969 set of six songs with vibes and sympathetic double bass giving a loping dreamy sound to underpin his wonderful voice. Longest and best track: "Gypsy woman".

For the wasted folkie pouring out his heart: Fred Neil is the man who wrote "Dolphins" and "Everybody's Talkin'", and on this 2-for-1 we hear his lovely deep voice moving away from the folk standards towards tales of wondering around New York. Alienated and seductive: "The other side to this life".

From the Folksmen Corner


For the good end of jolly folk combos there's not a great deal you can do. The Kingston Trio, The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Cumberland 3: all are awful on every track. The Greenbriar Boys, though, have a countryish edge replacing the damn comedy, like in "I'm coming back but I don't know when". In fact, you're better listening to what bands like these were listening to themselves...

For the genuinely odd and comic rural tales: the pre-war freaks and crones telling their tales, collected by another crazy and made into a relic box set by the folkies. With a pretty book and now forty pounds cheaper! Covered by the White Stripes: the Masked Marvel's "Mississippi Boweavil Blues".

From the New Main Street Singers Corner


For the smiling gentleman who make up these bands like the Even Dozen Jug Band and the New Christy Minstrels, you can't get cuddlier than Kenny Rogers, who spent his time between the Christies and his solo career making psychedelic country with The First Edition. You might remember "Just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in)" from The Big Lebowski. Budget CD!

For the handsome young buck once he's gone off on his own and found which drugs are his favourite, there's another former Christy (and Byrd) Gene Clark. His demos are getting a repackaging, and about time! In the meantime, there's a copy of "Dark of my moon" on the cover of Uncut.

Other New Christy Minstrels who went onto better things are Kim Carnes and David Crosby. Enjoy!

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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