Eric Andersen,
The Street was Always There:
Great American Song Series,
Vol. 1

(Appleseed, 2004)

Lay back, lower the lights, pour that glass of wine and immerse yourself in the voice of Eric Andersen. The Street was Always There, subtitled "Great American Song Series, Vol. 1," is both a tribute and a time machine taking us back to the generation that took us away from Sinatra and Doris Day.

Opening with "Little Bit of Rain" by Fred Neil, this album will transport you to a time when music was quiet, literate and meaningful. The spare production and warm voice complement the lyrics beautifully.

Andersen may not be a worldwide name -- although he played, wrote and sang with the likes of Dylan -- but he is a gem that is worth digging for. His version of Buffy Saint Marie's "Universal Soldier" gives the writer a run for her money with a heartfelt rendition. It's amazing to listen again to this classic and sad to realise that the universal truth is still there and still not seen. Not so well known is "Johnny Halfbreed," but it too is a powerful song to make us think, as the best songs must. The lyrics are stark, cruel and sadly true.

One of my favourite tracks is an Andersen composition called "Waves of Freedom." I love the familiar great songs but even more do I love finding a new old song that strikes a chord. The great Phil Ochs is represented on "I Ain't Marching Anymore," a stirring song of a soldier tired of fighting. He comes on "full belt" again with that fantastic song "White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land." The aforementioned Dylan comes into play as Andersen gives his heart, soul and vocals to "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall."

A booklet insert that sets the scene and recalls the era to perfection, complete with photos of the artists, accompanies the CD. My only quibble is the absence of the lyrics, but that is a small price to pay to get a document of social history accompanying an album of music to match. I cannot wait for volumes 2, 3, 4, etc., so bring them on please.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 11 June 2005

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