November 13, 1978 12:00 PM

Arlo Guthrie

More than a decade after he wrote his brilliantly absurdist Alice’s Restaurant talking blues, Arlo Guthrie has survived, even in his untrustworthy 30s, as a performer of remarkable emotional resonance. A Guthrie concert appealingly blends rock, folk, gospel, his father Woody’s classics and Arlo’s own whimsical storytelling. This album attempts to capture that personal charm—all the cuts were recorded live—but unhappily falls short. Fully 17½ minutes on one side are devoted to a long-winded yarn about clams that may be funny onstage but isn’t on polyvinyl. Worse, none of the songs here is Guthrie’s. Instead, he and his backup band, Shenandoah, idly run through oldies like Tennessee Stud, Anytime and Elvis Presley’s One Night. It makes true believers cherish even more last year’s underrated Amigo, probably Guthrie’s finest album yet.

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