Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues  

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"The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta. I heard a record of hers [Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues] in a record store, back when you could listen to records right there in the store. Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar, a flat-top Gibson. ... [That album was] just something vital and personal. I learned all the songs on that record. It was her first and the songs were- 'Mule Skinner', 'Waterboy', 'Jack of Diamonds', ''Buked and Scorned'." --Playboy magazine interview with Bob Dylan, 1978

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues is the debut solo album by American folk singer Odetta, first released in 1956.

Like much of Odetta's early work, Ballads and Blues combines traditional songs (e.g. spirituals) with blues covers. Some songs on this album were also recorded for Odetta & Larry's 1954 album The Tin Angel:

The initial vinyl release has tracks 1-8 as side A, then tracks 9-16 as side B (the "Spiritual Trilogy" being counted as one track, a medley). The "enhanced" CD version of this album, released in 2005, contains four bonus tracks and has a slightly different cover with a different photo of the singer. Some tracks are included on the Collectables re-release The Best of Odetta.

Bob Dylan singled this album out as one of his favorites by Odetta; indeed, it was albums like this that inspired him to play folk music instead of rock 'n' roll.

Track listing

Tracks marked [*] are 2005 CD bonus tracks, not on the original vinyl release.

  1. "Santy Anno" (Traditional) – 1:55
  2. "If I Had a Ribbon Bow" (Traditional) – 2:42
  3. "Muleskinner Blues" (Jimmie Rodgers) – 2:51
  4. "Another Man Done Gone" (Traditional) – 2:11
  5. "Shame and Scandal" (Traditional) – 2:23
  6. "Jack o' Diamonds" (Traditional) – 3:15
  7. "'Buked and Scorned" (Traditional) – 2:40
  8. "Easy Rider" (Traditional) – 5:06
  9. "Joshua" (Traditional) – 1:53
  10. "Hound Dog" (Traditional) – 3:50
  11. "Glory, Glory" (Traditional) – 2:12
  12. "Alabama Bound" (Huddie Ledbetter) – 1:42
  13. "Been in the Pen" (Traditional) – 2:32
  14. "Deep Blue Sea" (Traditional) – 3:00
  15. "God's Gonna Cut You Down" (Traditional) – 1:51
  16. Spiritual Trilogy: "Oh, Freedom", "Come and Go With Me", "I'm on My Way" (Traditional) – 6:06
  17. "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" [*] (Traditional)' – 1:53
  18. "Take This Hammer" [*] (Ledbetter) – 3:27
  19. "Deep River" [*] (Traditional) – 3:00
  20. "Chilly Winds" [*] '(Traditional) – 2:41


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