Feature

Levon Helm: Electric Dirt

In <em>Electric Dirt,</em> the 69-year-old drummer shows that he &ldquo;has found his second wind as a recording artist.&rdquo;

(Vanguard)

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Levon Helm has re­­discovered his youth—or at least “his knack his for making­ great records,” said Mark Deming in Allmusic.com. Picking up where 2007’s Dirt Farmer left off, Electric Dirt firmly establishes that the 69-year-old drummer “has found his second wind as a recording artist.” This collection, mostly of covers, is “every bit as impressive” as that Grammy-winning folk record, which was Helm’s first after throat cancer nearly silenced him. Helm cranks up the volume this time and “opens up the throttle to a bolder sound,” said Steve Morse in The Boston Globe. Whereas Dirt Farmer reflected his folk leanings, Helm lets the rock ’n’ roll rip on Electric Dirt. His voice seeming just about as strong and supple as it was during his days with the Band, he kicks off the set with a brassy rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed.” Helm then effortlessly swings back and forth from “heartfelt gospel” (the Staple Singers’ “Move Along Train”) to rollicking blues (Muddy Waters’ “Stuff You Gotta Watch”). There’s life in this dog yet.

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