Personnel: David Johansen (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Larry Saltzman (guitar, banjo); Brian Koonin (guitar, mandolin); Kermit Driscoll (didgeridoo, bass); Joey Baron (percussion).
Recorded from November 29 to December 2, 1999 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, New York, New York.
Personnel: David Johansen (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Larry Saltzman (guitar, banjo); Brian Koonin (guitar, mandolin); Kermit Driscoll (didjeridu); Joey Baron (percussion).
Recording information: St. Peter's Episcopal Church, NY (11/29/1999-12/02/1999).
Editor: Nicholas Prout.
Arranger: Bob Dylan.
DAVID JOHANSEN AND THE HARRY SMITHS finds the former New York Dolls singer settling shockingly well into traditional Mississippi-style country blues. Johansen couldn't have made a more unexpected career choice had he suddenly decided to put on a tuxedo, change his name, and start singing pre-rock cabaret songs. Oh, wait...
Backed by a talented quartet named after the eccentric artist-historian who compiled THE ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC, Johansen delivers traditional ballads like "Delia" and "O Death" alongside blues classics like Muddy Waters' "Little Geneva," Lightnin' Hopkins' "Katie Mae" and Mississippi John Hurt's "Richland Woman." Unlike the tongue-in-cheek Buster Poindexter records, there's no posturing here. Johansen's singing is as forceful and assured as it's ever been; compare his version of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talking" to the Dolls' 1974 cover of the same song. You'll see how Johansen has grown as a singer, and the depth of his commitment to this music.
Rolling Stone (8/31/00, pp.69-73) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...A perfect example of the circular logic of American-folk geography....Johansen is a believable avatar of Smith's scholarship..."
Down Beat (12/00, p.88) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Draws out all the sadness, hope, tenderness, joy and rowdiness embedded in the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson's 'Don't Start Me Talking' and the public domain's 'Old Dog Blue'..."