Patty Larkin - A Gogo: Live on Tour

A Gogo: Live on Tour

Patty Larkin

Vanguard 79547-2

Vanguard Records
2700 Pennsylvania Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

There's no doubt about it. Give Patty Larkin a guitar and let her rip onstage and you create a great deal of audience excitement. And that's just what Larkin's new recording, A GOGO: LIVE ON TOUR, recreates in your own home - the energy of Patty Larkin live.

Since the 1993 release of ANGELS RUNNING on the Windham Hill/High Street label, Larkin has made a name for herself as an innovative songwriter and musician, as well as one of the most respected guitarists on the acoustic scene. Larkin's most recent recording, PERISHABLE FRUIT, is notable for its skillful blend of studio-created effects and use of unusual instrumentation and percussion. Could these songs hold up to the rigors of live performance? Just listen to A GOGO and I think you will agree that the answer is, without question, yes!

The best thing about the new CD is that it is Larkin alone with her guitar - no effects, and no supporting players. And what most impresses in this setting is her absolute mastery of the guitar. Songs like Wolf at the Door and Booth of Glass feature extended guitar solos, luxuries that the pressures of recording often cannot afford.

A GOGO opens with Wolf at the Door, one of Larkin's best songs. With great rhythm and punch, it's all hooks. Loaded with images of contemporary greed, and a guitar that just won't quit, it prepares us for what is to come.

Banish Misfortune/Open Hand is an all-instrumental piece with Patty on guitar. I played this one for a musician friend of mine who wanted to know when we could catch her next show. Patty Larkin on acoustic guitar, or any guitar for that matter, is one of the folk scene's biggest draws.

Both Tango and Do Not Disturb display the famous Larkin wit and attitude. Tango features Larkin's driving guitar and a wonderful stream of images, while Do Not Disturb is loaded with attitude and smart guitar work. I love this one:

She had a Do Not Disturb sign hanging on her back
She looked taller than she was in her tapered slacks
Calculated head of hair and cowboy boots
She said I'm a country girl from down on 8th Avenue.

Don't features lyrics with the bite of the best of contemporary poetry accompanied by the signature Larkin guitar licks. And Who Holds Your Hand has a lovely melody as well as Larkin's superb guitar, and lyrics that stay with you: "Who holds your hand/ When you're alone."

The Book I'm Not Reading is one of the recording's best cuts. It contains some of Larkin's most complicated guitar work and chord changes. In addition, it is fresh, contemporary ("the book I'm not reading's on the internet"), and makes you think about the importance of stories in our lives.

In her work, Patty Larkin continually pushes and stretches the boundaries of contemporary acoustic music. She has experimented with the best effects the music studio can provide, and with a variety of vocal techniques and musical instruments. She is always riveting on acoustic guitar. A GOGO represents the best of her talents performed live on tour. In choosing representative tunes from her recordings of the nineties, Larkin has been wildly successful in painting her musical portrait at the beginning of the next millennium.

Edited by David Schultz

Copyright 1999, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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