58: Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)

Album: Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy
Artist: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Year: 1970

1. Some of Shelly’s Blues
2. Prodigal’s Return
3. Cure
4. Travelin’ Mood
5. Chicken Reel
6. Yukon Railroad
7. Livin’ Without You
8. Clinch Mountain Backstep
9. Rave On
10. Billy in the Low Ground
11. Jesse James
12. Uncle Charlie Interview
13. Mr. Bojangles
14. Opus 36
15. Santa Rosa
16. Propinquity
17. Uncle Charlie
18. Randy Lynn Rag
19. House at Pooh Corner
20. Swanee River
21. Uncle Charlie Interview #2 / Spanish Fandango

With 21 songs, you’d think it was a double album. In reality, it’s a lot of short songs and instrumentals. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is most famous for their song Fishin’ in the Dark, but they released a ton of albums before that song ever hit the airwaves. This one’s my favorite.  Like many folk albums, a lot of the songs are borrowed, but they’re borrowed pretty damn well.

The album is strongest at the beginning. Some of Shelly’s Blues (Michael Nesmith) is a classic, but it doesn’t let up for a while after that. The instrumentals are true jugband material, replete with mandolins, a washtub bass, a washboard, conga, accordion, and lots o’ pluckin’. Some of the more solid vocals are on Prodigal’s Return (Kenny Loggins) and Livin’ Without You (Randy Newman).

Then the album is broken up with random interviews with some old guy named Charlie (an in-law of the album’s producer), who is supposed to be Mr. Bojangles. They’re not terribly interesting, and the harmonica is pretty obnoxious. Thankfully, Mr. Bojangles is strong enough to help you forget.

The rest of the album is hit and miss, with the hits being Propinquity (Michael Nesmith) and House at Pooh Corner (Kenny Loggins). I can’t explain why I’m obsessed with this version of the Three Acre Wood homage, but they turned a pretty but nap-inducing lullaby into an uplifting romp.

The album ends with another silly interview, but that’s a nitpick for this otherwise fun folk record.

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