Rolling Stone, September 13, 1973

Record Reviews:  My Feet Are Smiling

      Leo Kottke is a low-keyed Minnesota artist.  He doesn't wear make-up, has no banks of amplifiers, doesn't sing too well and doesn't even have long hair.  His main asset is a glycerine set of fingers.  When you're snowed in from Halloween to Mother's Day you've got to amuse yourself somehow.  After repeatedly freezing his lips on the mouthpiece of his trombone, Leo switched to guitar.

      Every Christmas, at one of the best halls in the land, the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, local folks pay homage to one of their state's finest.  My Feet Are Smiling was recorded there in 1972 and it's a good sampler of what Leo's been up to for the past four albums (two on Takoma, two on Capitol).  Most of it has been recorded before, but there's a friendly spirit that compensates for the repetition.  On the intro to the first cut, "Here the Wind Howl," he flubs a run, says, "Well, blew that one," and just keeps on playing.  But most of the audience has been edited out, because Leo likes his guitar more than clapping.  

      He knows his guitars, six- and 12-string, and his styles, slide and finger-picked, throughout. Some of the songs, like "Hear the Wind Howl," sound a bit more cluttered than the studio versions and others, like "June Bug," lose some oomph without a bass and drum accompaniment. But he finally leaves no doubt that he's one of the finest acoustic guitarists around, as evidenced by the rollicking "Jack Fig," the dreamy "Easter," the funky "Stealing," and even Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

      For a good taste of Kottke, it's a fine album to dip into, containing some of his best performances and a warm spirit.  --  Chan Carlson

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