Various 'Til We Outnumber 'Em: The Songs Of Woody Guthrie

All the recent tributes to Guthrie may be solidifying his legend for the new century, but after listening to this album, recorded live at a 1996 Guthrie conference in Cleveland, OH, I think that anyone who might be intrigued by its line-up probably doesn't need any new versions of these songs. Wilco and Billy Bragg have done a far greater service to Guthrie's legacy with their Mermaid Avenue albums, making something like Dave Pirner's "Pretty Boy Floyd" sound redundant by comparison. Bragg, incidentally, appears here doing Mermaid II's "Against The Law." Only Bruce Springsteen comes close to adding something new and only because his choice of "Deportees" sounds like it came straight from The Ghost Of Tom Joad. Ani DiFranco's trademark tics are also a welcome change of pace, but the only purpose I can see for this album is to motivate someone to find Guthrie's originals. While I can admire people like Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Guthrie's son Arlo for carrying the torch, it's also sad that they never stepped out of Woody's shadow like so many others did. (Festival)