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[Off The Record]
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Less than a year after its release, the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack has become something of a cottage industry, spawning copycat releases, tribute concerts, and a live-album companion for the documentary Down from the Mountain. Recorded at Nashville’s hallowed Ryman Auditorium before O Brother became an endlessly discussed cultural phenomenon, Down from the Mountain features many of the original soundtrack participants, including Emmylou Harris, Union Station stalwart (and Soggy Bottom Boy) Dan Tyminski, Gillian Welch, and the late John Hartford. Yet it seems oddly dissociated from its source material: it’s really more a nicely done, occasionally rousing collection of bluegrass, gospel, and country folk than a true follow-up to the O Brother soundtrack. And though it’s admirable the way the O Brother brethren seem to be trying hard to make their performances here more than just live versions of the studio recordings, that also means that some of the soundtrack’s finest moments (the Boys’ " I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow, " Alison Krauss’s " Down in the River To Pray " ) are jettisoned in favor of less compelling new material like the Whites’ " Sandy Land. " Still, any album that includes wonders like Krauss’s " Blue and Lonesome " and Hartford’s near-perfect version of " Big Rock Candy Mountain " is worth having; those left wanting more will be heartened to know that an O Brother concert tour is slated for next February.


Issue Date: August 23 - 30, 2001

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