Richie Havens will forever be associated with his show-stealing opening performance at Woodstock in 1969. It was a performance that instantly secured Havens a place in musical counterculture history, catapulting the Greenwich Village folk-blues innovator from relative obscurity to enduring cult status.

Havens’ second album, ‘Something Else Again’ was released to no great fanfare the year before that ground-breaking live performance, yet Havens had already perfected his approach on an album that confidently blends folk, blues and raga-rock, all driven by Havens’ compelling acoustic guitar playing and warm, expressive vocals.

Many of the trademark sounds of the era are present, from Jeremy Steig’s evocative flute to the heavy-grooving sitar workout of the title track, but the additional instrumentation is used sparingly, adding light and shade to Haven’s propulsive rhythm guitar. One song title in particular stands out: ‘The Klan’, penned by Alan and David Arkin, could have been written in 2018, with lyrics such as “He who rides with the Klan is a devil and not a man”.

If that’s a sad indictment of the state of the world in 2018, it also underscores the generation-spanning appeal of Havens’ passionate humanitarianism. Havens shares certain commonalities with Curtis Mayfield and the genius Brazilian singer-songwriter, Jorge Ben; all three base their musical approach around irrepressible rhythm guitar-work, soulful vocals and positive, socially-conscious lyrics.

As good as they are- and this album is a particularly fine example- Havens’ studio albums are somewhat overshadowed by his magical live performances, with 1972’s prosaically-named ‘Live On Stage’ offering the definitive snapshot of the man at his peak. Nevertheless, ‘Something Else Again’ is a hugely enjoyable collection of covers and Havens’ originals, which hopefully will be followed by further essential gems from this totemic artist’s sadly-neglected back catalogue.

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