The Secret Handshake
HighTone Records CD HCD 8097, 1998 (45:55)
Rare album by a great white bluesman
With a voice echoing an almost Randy Newman-esque quality, Geoff Muldaur sings both original and classic gospel and blues songs here, in a straightforward and gentle manner.
Like all great songwriters with an abiding love for musical traditions, it's often hard to tell which of these are originals, and which are covers. Much like Newman, Muldaur also places himself smack dab in the places he's writing about, until he almost becomes those places.
"I Believe I'll Go Back Home" tells the biblical story of the Prodigal Son so sincerely, you'll swear you've heard it in church at one time or another. Instead of printing his song lyrics, Muldaur has chosen instead to write short essays about these selections. The notes to "Home" detail other such prodigal songs based upon this well-known story, from a black spiritual back in 1921, to Michelle Shocked's modern day feminist perspective called "Prodigal Daughter."
Blues singers are forefront in Muldaur's mind for this particular outing, as he covers Vera Hall Ward on "The Wild Ox Moan," Leadbelly with "Alberta," and even writes a salute to a blues legend with "Got To Find Blind Lemon-Part One."
Like a knowledgeable tour guide traveling back through the history American roots music, Muldaur provides a meaningful journey for any and all serious musical explorers.
performers Geoff Muldaur, banjo, guitar, vocals, tambourine, penny whistle, producer; Bruce Forman, Amos Garrett, Turner Stephen Bruton, guitars; Richard Greene, Eric Levine, fiddles; John Nicholas, piano; Dave Bargeron, trombone; David Grisman, mandolin; Sean Hopper, acoustic bass; Larry Thompson, drums; and many others
songs Wild Ox Moan · This World Is Not My Home · Alberta · Got to Find Blind Lemon (Pt. 1) · I Believe I'll Go Back Home · Chevrolet/Big Alice · I Can't See Your Face · Mistreated Mama · Someday Baby · Just a Little While to Stay Here