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John Fogerty

The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again

Fortunate Son/Verve Forecast

Buy if you like: Poco, Pure Prairie League

Shortly after breaking up Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1972, John Fogerty recorded his first album as the Blue Ridge Rangers — which found him actually recording all the music himself. Now Fogerty finally follows up on those country and gospel covers with an album that draws largely upon late '60s/early '70s vintage country and rock. This time, Fogerty also works with big-name guest artists — the Eagles' Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit on a fine version of Rick Nelson's "Garden Party," and Bruce Springsteen, whose gruff vocal turns out not to be such a good fit for the Everly Brothers "When Will I Be Loved." Mostly acoustic and with more twang than what passes for country music these days, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again serves as a warm, spirited tribute to an era when country and rock came together to form a new type of American music. — Alan Sculley

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Woody Guthrie

My Dusty Road

Rounder

Buy if you like: Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger

When Nora Guthrie heard these long-buried recordings of her father, she said it sounded as if he was right there in the room. And it does. In fact, it's like he's inches away, singing and strumming a guitar bearing the words, "This machine kills fascists." You can almost see Bob Dylan sitting at his feet, drinking it all in. And the founders of the Newport Folk Festival, and everyone who ever played there, gathered 'round, listening to the man who turned American folk music into a popular (and at times, politically unpopular) art form. Split into thematic sections, "Woody's 'Greatest' Hits," "Woody's Roots," "Woody the Agitator" and "Woody, Cisco and Sonny," this four-CD box — actually, a reproduction of a well-worn suitcase, latch and all — is a revelation of sorts; a chance at last to hear these songs in all their still-vital immediacy, instead of as scratchy relics of a long-lost era. — Lynne Margolis

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The Cave Singers

Welcome Joy

Matador

Buy if you like: Iron & Wine, Lindsey Buckingham

The Cave Singers bring a different approach to an indie folk that's currently being defined by artists who fall at least within striking distance of Iron & Wine. Built around hints of both hope and despair, the group's sophomore album is a 10-track affair that features singer Pete Quirk delivering folksy vocals over Lindsey Buckingham-style finger-picking. Moods shift throughout the album, from the quiet simplicity of "Townships" to the upbeat delights of "Leap." What's most interesting about the Cave Singers is the degree to which the band's pre-alt-country approach resides in a world well removed from today's Americana and jam band scenes. It's almost as if their songs were written in the early 20th century and recorded on Quirk's back porch decades ago. And therein lies the joy of this album. — John Benson

  • John Fogerty, Woody Guthrie, The Cave Singers

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