Mudlark rates highly on many a Kottke fan's favorite list. This was Kottke's Capitol Records debut, and his solo instrumental sound is augmented with the addition of studio sidemen (bass, drums, piano). His playing is superb (no surprise there) and full of youthful vigor – a fusion of high-speed picking, brash slide work, funky folk, acoustic rock, and melodicism. Most importantly, Mudlark marked the debut of Kottke as a singer, an indication that Capitol was trying to shoehorn him into the singer/songwriter genre. Kottke himself has made disparaging remarks about his own vocals, but they add personality to his virtuosic guitar chops.
ONE WAY GLASS is a very different kind of RPM compilation. Instead of the usual cross-section of Sixties collectables, this unique 3-CD set takes a fresh look at British music from the late 60s through to the mid-70s, with an eye on overlooked dancefloor-friendly finds. The rhythmic backbone of One Way Glass lies in Progressive Rock outfits who - every so often - would emulate their jazz heroes and record funky sides tucked away on albums or B-sides. Many of these tracks (Jonesy, Hardin & York) have been known to collectors of Funky Breaks for years.
This is a good record, though not the Leo Kottke album to start with, as it is not representative of his usual work – it's mostly a vocal record, and a very country-flavored record at that, with Kottke's baritone, reminiscent in some ways of Leonard Cohen (and even moving into what one might consider Jim Morrison territory), serving as the dominant instrument on six of the ten tracks. His flashy 12-string playing and Cal Hand's Dobro do come to the fore on "Tilt Billings and the Student Prince." Tom T. Hall and Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels are among the songwriters represented. Among the intrumentals, "A Good Egg" is just the kind of light-fingered, light-textured virtuoso piece that one buys a Leo Kottke album expecting to find, and much of the rest shows off his talents in some unexpected directions. The sound on the One Way label CD reissue is first rate as well.