Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Electric Dirt

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Electric Dirt

Article excerpt


Levon Helm (Vanguard Records, 2009)


Beginning in 1969, Levon Helm, with his mates in The Band, helped save rock and roll from psychedelia and all its pomps. In a world crazed by fads and fashions, songs like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" sounded 100 years old.

And that was the point. The music was an amalgam of gospel, blues, and hillbilly traditions, and the high, lonesome yearning in Helm's Arkansas-bred voice provided the seal of authenticity.

Recently that iconic voice appeared lost. Helm developed throat cancer, and after surgery and radiation he couldn't even speak. Slowly, however, his voice returned. The cancer stayed away, and last year Helm celebrated his vocal rebirth with Dirt Farmer, which won a Grammy for best traditional folk album.

On Electric Dirt Helm's voice has regained more of its old force, and his drumming is back at the center of his music. …

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