900 Miles & Other Railroad Songs
Folkways LP # FA2013 (and FP 13)
This 10" LP contains early performances of Cisco on some of his most familiar material. It was later released on a 12" LP teamed with Cowboy Ballads This same pairing is now available from Smithsonian on a non-professional CD.
- 900 Miles
- Gettin' Up Holler
- Wreck of the Old '97
- Hobo Bill
- Great American Bum
- Brave Engineer
- The Rambler
- Railroad Bill
- Worried Man Blues
Many of these titles are on other compilations, but in quite different performances. Listening to a younger, less vibrant and somewhat tentative Cisco from 1953 is a relevation. He has not been the center of attention much, but was more often Woody's backup musician and vocalist. On center stage, he is a bit weak. But the lack of confidence on Hobo Bill, for instance, emphasizes the poignancy of the tale, and to these ears greatly reduces the gooey quality of later versions. The storytelling is straightforward and clear, letting the tale tell itself.
But otherwise, this seems a relatively weak collection. The confident tenor is not present, the man who sings with authority is yet to develop. These are not great songs, and need the great performances of later years to make them alive. And thankfully, songs like The Brave Engineer apparently left his repertorie.
To see the complete notes from the 900 Miles LP, click here.