'Til We Outnumber 'EM ... (Righteous Babe)

Various Artists 

'Til We Outnumber 'EM ... (Righteous Babe)

Even though as I went walking that ribbon of highway these days means that you'll see more strip mall playgrounds than golden valleys, there's still some bad news for all you rave kids who hate folk music -- it ain't dead yet. In fact, after the release of 'Til We Outnumber 'Em, produced by queen of folk Ani DiFranco, folk music might be throbbing again with a force that beats any ecstasy and techno-pitched hysteria. Although Woody Guthrie, the king of folk influence, died over 30 years ago, his groundbreaking songs are still relevant today. On Sept. 29, 1996, at Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio, a group of soon-to-be (if not already) icon-material musicians got together to pay tribute to Guthrie. Four years and miles of red tape later, this tribute presents itself as a shining overview of Guthrie's work that will keep old fans inspired and instigate new ones. Billy Bragg's rendition of "Against the Law" and Bruce Springsteen's driving version of "Riding In My Car" present a mix of what Guthrie did best: create songs with social conscience and exemplify life for the average American. With readings of his literature by Peter Glazer and Tim Robbins, as well as a first-ever collaboration by Indigo Girls and DiFranco on a passionate take of "Ramblin' 'Round," this tribute lives up to its ambition. 'Til We Outnumber 'Em succeeds in capturing what John Steinbeck said of Guthrie's work: "He sings the songs of a people, and I suspect that he is, in a way, that people."

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