MP3 Larry Hanks & Mike Marker - The Truth for Certain
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17 MP3 Songs in this album (62:32) !
Related styles: FOLK: Political Folk, FOLK: Traditional Folk
People who are interested in Lead Belly Utah Phillips should consider this download.
THE TRUTH FOR CERTAIN
Larry Hanks & Mike Marker
Reviewed by Deborah Robins 2003
If there were ever a CD to take along on a road trip, âThe Truth For Certainâ would be it. Right from the start of the rollicking and bombastic, âLonesome Cowboyâs Breakfastâ written by Hank Bradley and Larry Hanks, the listener is poised for a wide variety of Americana highlighting the good, bad, and ugly of our culture.
One of my favorite and lesser known Stephen Foster tunes, âThe Glendy Burkâ is kicked into high gear when Hanks joins in with his basso harmonies, the banjoâs jaunty spot-on fills, transport us to another era.
Larry Pennâs âMaquiladorasâ is an example of Hanks at his finest. He literally jumps rather than eases into this song which draws the listener into a bittersweet lament. In classic Hanks style, we can clearly discern and digest every word as it is delivered in real time, keeping us riveted in order to be a part of the big picture painted in nuanced strokes.
Old fiddle tune, âMississippi Sawyer and Westfork Galsâ is an instrumental which features the neat banjo picking of Mike Marker, and the boisterous Jewâs Harp work of Larry Hanks.
Uncle Dave Maconâs âIâm Going Back to Dixieâ supplies a strong, straight-ahead rendition, with excellent and restrained harmonies by Marker.
The trick bag of covering a well-known song like Leadbellyâs âRelax Your Mindâ comes from the natural tendency to compare both renditions. And although one always wonders about the value of re-recording such chestnuts, itâs always fun to hear Leadbelly reinterpreted. Mike Markerâs lead vocals ease beautifully into this blues with a wail in his voice, which actually works well in such a laconic piece.
A musical equivalent of the film, âMy Man Godfreyâ, âThe Panic is Onâ is exactly the kind of song Larry Hanks selects again and again: funky to sing, fun to hear, and cloaked in musicality which nearly steals the thunder from the message.
A song popularized by uber-Minstrel, Dan Emmett, âJordan is a Hard Road to Travelâ, is a good choice for Markerâs front porch delivery. The words are cute and clever, the banjo work propellant throughout. The album includes Mike Markerâs extensive liner notes giving some background on this song. For my money, Hanks and Markerâs voices and harmonies were born to perform this song together.
Another Leadbelly song, âTitanicâ fits well into the eclectic variety of this album. Markerâs 12-string adds a nod to the songâs pedigree.
âNeedlecase & Liza Janeâ treats the listener to another bouncy ride courtesy of Hanksâ masterful Jewâs Harpery.
Malvina Reynolds, fellow Berkleyan and most deceivingly profound songwriter, is often remembered for her musical eco-political statements. Fraught with poetic and melodic beauty, âThe Fragile Seaâ bemoans the causes and effects of water pollution. This is a lovely, sensitive song sung with warm reverence by Marker with restrained and lovely harmonies by Hanks.
Larry Hanks had opportunity to experience the essence of Elizabeth (Libba) Cotten firsthand having traveled as her accompanist on one of her final tours. âGoing Down the Road Feeling Badâ which also incorporates Cottenâs âVastopolâ is delivered with a kind of standard-issue folkie treatmentâhowever easily listenable, just unremarkable.
âHigh and Lonesomeâ is exactly the kind of song that makes Larry Hanks such a beloved performer: he tells us a story that sounds like he could have lived itâplausibly, and with intelligence. Mark Graham crafted a wry piece sung ala Utah Phillips.
One doesnât generally associate such a sprightly two-step with a deliciously nasty little song about Richard Nixon, however David Holtâs âToo Late to Prayâ delivers, thanks to Hanksâ and Markerâs caustic inflections.
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