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Monday 31 August 2020

River Deep or Mountain High

 


Yes - it is Monday and we are back with another compare and contrast series .

This time round it is rivers versus mountains. I think I have enough material to make it the first to 10 the winner again. If I'm struggling I am sure that some of you will be able to help me out. There are plenty out there to choose from particularly on the river front 

Two fairly obvious ones to start us off. The title tracks from two great albums.

From 1980 The River was Bruce Sprinsteen's fifth studio album and his only double album. The River is Side 2 Track 6. Being somewhat lazy rather than rip the vinyl I've gone for the easy option and ripped it from the Essential Bruce Springsteen CD.

From 1999 The Mountain is the only album by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band. Steve is not averse to a blugrass song or two but this is his first full bluegrass album. Made as a tribute to Bill Monroe the founder of bluegrass music who died in 1996

Do I love you, my oh my

River Deep or Mountain High?


Bruce Springsteen - The River

Steve Earle & the Del McCoury Band - The Mountain

Sunday 30 August 2020

Blues Berry

 


2020 Charity Shop Purchase 33 -  Chuck Berry  - Blues Berry

The only charity shop acquistion from when we were away.

Purchased fron BRICC in Ballantrae this is number 3 in The Blues Collection Series.No need to consult the list I carry in my wallet with the numbers of the ones that I have still to get.It was one that I already had and bought with the full knowledge that that was the case. First bought in June 2015 and first featured then

The reason for purchasing? My first copy did not have the front cover. I made a replacement with orange card. This resulted in the front spine looking totally out of place  when filed with the black spines of the other 55 from the series on the shelves. These things are important.

So a no brainer really.  

Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry - No Particular Place to Go

Chuck Berry - You Never Can Tell





Saturday 29 August 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - I'll Give You Something to Cry About

 


Last week I suggested that The Handsome Family were the band who invented Gothic Americana. George took me to task on this and felt that this accolade belonged to Tarnation.

He is probably correct given that their debut album I'll Give You Something to Cry About was released on Nuf Sed records in 1993.

It was not the first of thers that I acquired -  that would have been their second album Gentle Creatures released on the larger 4AD label in 1995.As is often the case when a band who have previously had a recent album on an indie label sign to one of the bigger boys a number of the tracks reappear on the follow up.It looks to me as though 6 of the 15 songs on  I'll Give You Something to Cry About also appear as part of the 15 on Gentle Creatures. Not a total rip off considering the amount of tracks - you could actually think of them as bonus tracks.

Tarnation, of course , feature the songwriting skills and the unique dulcet tones of Paula Frazer  from Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia. Her father was the town preacher and her mother the church organist and she grew up singing in the church choir. I think it's fair to say that given the subject matter most of her songs would not have featured in  church.

Thanks go to George for me having this record. He spotted it in a record shop in Birmingham marked down from £3.90 to £2.90. As he already had it he gave me a phone to see if I wanted it. The answer was of course yes and I picked it up the next time I saw him. According to discogs it is worth about ten times that now,

Tarnation remain  the only band that I've never seen twice - here and here

Tarnation - Big O Motel

Tarnation - Christine

Tarnation - Do You Fancy Me

Friday 28 August 2020

Alligator



2020 Charity Shop Purchase 32 - The National - Alligator 


The final of my four pre-holiday charity purchases.
As far back as 20th June 2015 I featured Mr November from an Uncut compilation called Gimme Danger. At the time I said, as I often do, that further exploration was required. I have since downloaded the odd track by The National here and there and have always enjoyed them.
Therefore I was pretty chuffed to pick up Alligator their third studio album from 2005 on the Beggars Banquet label for 25p.
And pretty darn good it is to. Shades of Springsteen in places particularly on the opening track on the album Secret Meeting. Wiki label them as indie pop or post-punk revival but I think that they will fit fairly neatly on the Americana shelves.

Vocals are provided by Matt Berninger with the Dessner brothers (Aaron and Bryce) and the Devendorf  brothers (Scott and Bryan) being the other band members

The album was critically acclaimed with both Uncut and Planet Sound  ranking it as the second best album of 2005.with Pitchfork listing it as the 40th best album of the 2000's. High praise indeed
Can anyone advise if their other albums are as good and which one(s) I should track down first




Thursday 27 August 2020

Transformer

 


2020 Charity Shop Purchase 31 - Lou Reed - Transformer 

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I really should get myself some more Velvet Underground. That hasn't happened yet but here is the next best thing - some more Lou Reed.

Like the Pixies and Doolittle I had never  got round to picking up Transformer his 1972 second solo album on RCA primarily because I had most to the songs on two best of albums - one vinyl and one CD.I was 11 when it came out, maybe a wee bit too young for some of the subject matter.

Even though it cost me 25p I thought what the hell, why not push the boat out.

I shall spare you the ubiquitous Perfect Day and Walk on the Wild Side. Rather you are getting Vicious, which I have never owned before, and Satellite of Love which is quite possibly my favorite song of his.

Produced by some boy called David Bowie and arranged by Mick Ronson - wonder whatever happened to them.

Lou Reed - Vicious

Lou Reed - Satellite of Love

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Second Is Better Than First. Part 10.

 


George writes:

A complaint has been received about the quality and genre of some of the albums featured here. So in a pathetic attempt to get myself into his good books today features two albums I think will meet with CC’s approval.


Many many years ago, over 25 years ago, I remember seeing posters for an Aimee Mann concert, at the venue a mile or so along the road  from where I lived. I was not at that time familiar with her work so never went, and I suspect I went to The Free Trade instead and gave the jukebox a few 50ps.


The first of her albums I heard was the second, a great indie-pop record. And after playing it to death I got the first one, “Whatever”, which cost me £5.99 from Polar Bear Records. “I’m with Stupid” also cost £5.99, brand new.


The first 6 tracks of “Whatever” are great pop songs, and for that reason alone every collection should have this album. That’s not to say the rest of the album is just filler, oh no, the songs are very good, but they suffer in comparison to those 6. If you’ve got a spare 52 minutes at work, just play it, you’ll feel all the better for it, and it’ll be time better spent than counting the paper clips.


Aimee Mann - Put me on top



The follow-up starts slower, the songs getting that little bit better as the album proceeds. Overall, it has a slightly harder musical edge, and the songs on the whole are less sparky and upbeat, but they have the same rather wistful sentiment, and the music suits the lyrics better than the predecessor. It also struck me that the sequencing was better, here’s the final track:

Aimee Mann - It's not safe


(I’ve removed the two minutes of nonsense that come after the song)

It’s a quality album, and again it should be on your shelves. My copy of the album has a sticker profoundly proclaiming that it features Michael Penn and Juliana Hatfield. I had to resort to the internet to discover who Michael Penn was. The same sticker overlooked the fact that Glenn Tilbrook and Bernard Butler grace the album.


Aimee Mann - Long shot


There are a plethora of Aimee Mann cds on the shelves, all very very fine albums. With the exception of The Forgotten Arm.So that’s a great 105 minutes I’ve spent today listening to two very fine albums, on this sunny morning, before going over to the river beach for lunch and swimming.


“I’m With Stupid”: Second Is Better Than First, although some may disagree


Thank you kindly.


CC writes

That's you back in the good books George. I have four Aimee Mann albums including Whatever.

I don't have I'm With Stupid though so can neither agree or disagree with your rationale



Tuesday 25 August 2020

Expecting To Fly

 

 
2020 Charity Shop Purchase 30 - Expecting To Fly  - The Bluetones

I've seen the above album many times in charity shops.It has a lovely cover. I knew it was by The Bluetones but had no idea as to the title.
I have now learnt that it is Expecting to Fly their 1996 debut album on the Superior Quality label and one which knocked (What's the Story) Morning Glory? off of the number 1 slot. So that's a plus point in its favour right away.
The name Bluetones rang a vague bell. I knew they were a Brit Pop band but that was pretty much it. Normally it is one which wouldn't have tempted me but it my first post lockdown charity excursion.

It is pleasant enough if nothing startling. I did however recognise the song Slight Return not that I could have told you it's name. Apparently it reached number 2 in the UK singles charts being denied the top slot by Spaceman by Babylon Zoo another one which passed me by. I had clearly stopped paying attention to the singles charts by then.



I've still to decide whether this one is a keeper



Monday 24 August 2020

Justin Townes Earle RIP

 

I've just read a tweet from Bloodshot Records that Justin Townes Earle has sadly died. He was only 38.

Awfully sad news. I saw him as a teenager playing guitar with his dad.

Rest easy Justin.

Justin Townes Earle - Movin' On

Doolittle

 

2020 Charity Shop Purchase 29  - The Pixies - Doolittle

The first of a short pre-holiday charity haul.

I know what you're thinking and you are quite correct - what in God's name has taken him so long to get around to aquiring a copy of Doolittle ?

The reason is probably because the first album of theirs that I aquired was the compilation Death to the Pixies which includes the six best known songs from the album. A poor excuse I know given that there are a further nine tracks that I previously didn't have.

I was also down a fairly sizeable Americana rsbbit hole at the time of it's release.

Their second album from April 1989 on 4AD it is highly rated and along with Surfer Rosa is regarded as their best work.I don't have Surfer Rosa either! Up until now the only other Pixies album I had in addition to the compilation was Trompe La Monde. Somewhere in South Wales the Robster will slowly  be shaking his head

I know, I know I really should have these three plus Bossanova

I now need to go and lie down in a darkened  room

Pixies - Debaser

Pixies - Here Comes Your Man

Pixies - No.13 Baby





Sunday 23 August 2020

Crash Course For The Ravers





We were away for a few days and as is my want I picked up a copy of Mojo for something to read.

The main article was Bowie: The Lost Interview.Yes I know it's hard to believe but there is actually an interview out there which has not yet been committed to print.This one is a series of transatlantic phonecalls with Paul Du Noyer from May 2002. I'll be honest I haven't got round to reading it yet and I doubt whether I actually will

The accompanying CD Crash Course For The Ravers is a deep trawl through the lesser visited zones of Bowie's career. Here you will find loyal companions and obscure inspirations, proteges and acolytes, tributes from old friends and incovations from much newer ones ...

The alarm bells should have probably started ringing with the phrase deep trawl.It is pretty disappointing and one which will be going back. Here are three that just about pass muster.

Mick Ronson - Slaughter on 10th Avenue

Brian Eno - Fickle Sun (III) I'm Set Free

Jacques Brel - La Mort

Saturday 22 August 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - Through the Trees



Let's face it The Handsome Family, the band who invented Gothic Americana, were always going to feature in this series. But with which album?
Not Twilight their 6th album from 2001 which is listed in rateyourmusic's 100 Essential Americana albums Yes 34 albums in and I have just started looking at other lists.
Not even 2000's In the Air although that came close.
No I have gone for Through the Trees their third  album  from 1998 on Carrot Top Records in the States and on Loose Records in the UK.
Chosen for a variety of reasons. It was the first of their's that I bought and the one being promoted when I first saw them live but primarily because the song Cathedrals has one of the greatest opening lines of all times



The Cathedral in Cologne looks like a spaceship

Please don't think that that is the only good song on the album. They all pass muster with Weightless Again and The Giant of Illinois also being particularly good.
For the uninitiated The Handsome Family are the husband and wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks who met while patients in a psychiatric hospital. Renee does the songwriting and Brett the singing in a deep baritone voice.
Mojo appear to be with me in that they consider Through the Trees to be their best and  the 9th best Americana album of the 90s
They accurately highlight that the band's music focuses on the macabre usually being dark and with a high body count.
While intertaining in short doses it can after a while  become a bit one-dimensional.After seeing them two or three times I felt that live they were a bit samey and I have not had the desire to see them again.
The same can probably be said about their music - better to dip into them every now and again rather than have them on heavy rotation.
I did however enjoy giving this a spin for the first time in a while

The Handsome Family - Weightless Again

The Handsome Family - Cathedrals

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Second Is Better Than First. Part 9.



George writes:

It’s the ninth in this series, and I also present to you the ninth member of our tribe. Fennel.

A stray (cat, a stray cat), living in the abandoned house a few metres from us, and literally miaowed at our garage door (which is directly on the street). She is at the farm now. Billy the farm cat is not best pleased.

Sometimes, there’s a track on an album I despise that much I can’t bring myself to play the album. Now, of course, that’s a bit irrational, but, well, there we are. Sometimes, I can’t bring myself to buy the album, which is why I don’t possess Whie Light White Heat. So it was not difficult for me to include today’s two selections because I really loathe Creep, with a passion. I’m not sure why, it’s not the whiny vocal (after all, there’s more than a plethora of their albums on  the shelves), it’s not even because the song veers very close to that crappy  dirge The Air That I Breathe, it’s not the music specifically, it’s ALL OF IT. So for this piece I started with track 3. Actually the album is not very good at all, sounding dangerously close to a Bono vocal at times, and overall just a non-descript indie-guitar album. This track from Pablo Honey I can listen to without feeling the need to stick pins in my scrotum:



So put off was I by Creep, a song that somehow made the Festive 50 in 1993, that I never even considered buying any Radiohead albums until well into the third millennium a.d, when I acquired The Bends. I seem to recall a tv programme that talked about The Bends and OK Computer, and being pleasantly surprised by what I heard. When I relayed this enthusiasm to a friend he called them a modern version of Pink Floyd. I don’t get that. 


Apart from the recognisable but somehow improved vocal, The Bends could almost have been made by a different band. A plethora of fine songs, and starting with Planet Telext I think you can tell it’s going to be far superior to the predecessor. The playing is better, the guitar more jagged and less shoe-gaze-lite, the production better,  it’s somehow more mature, and trying to be their own material and not imitations. The songs on side one just keep getting better, peaking at this absolutely tremendous track;


My one gripe is that, at 3 mins 9 seconds, it’s too short

It’s the one Radiohead album you should own (CC that’s directed at YOU!). My vinyl copy cost £14.99 from Swordfish, in Birmingham. 
Tribe member 6 was unimpressed:


Side 2 is not as good overall. But it would be hard to surpass the sheer majesty of side 1. By no means is it bad, though!


So there it is The Bends better than Pablo Honey. Then again, a cup of cold vomit is better than Pablo Honey-

For those of you who have made it this far, 5 of the tribe are cats, two are dogs and two are goats.

Thank you kindly.

CC writes:
I'm with Tribe Member  6.
I really don't get what all the fuss is about. Being an open minded sort of a guy I gave the ICA from JC's place  a listen recently. I got about half way through it before reaching for the Ramones.

Monday 17 August 2020

Straight to Hell


They think it's all over ..... it is now.
We are all going straight to hell in a handcart.
Let's face it a Blues number was always going to appeal to the heathens amongs us.
And so it came to pass the Hellish John Lee Hooker resoundingly thrashed the Heavenly Mississippi Fred McDowall taking the final score to Heaven 6  Hell 10.

So no more Living in Limbo or being stuck on Purgatory Road. But let's face it the Devil has all the best tunes.
Folk seem to have enjoyed this series and it is always good to have some audience participation.
I've got another such series up my sleeve which I'll get round to after a couple  of weeks  break
Until then it is only fitting that as Ernie Goggins might say, we finish with the mandatory reggae version of the first victor in this series

Horace Andy - Straight to Hell

Jimmy Cliff - Sitting in Limbo

Tom Russell - Purgatory Road

Sunday 16 August 2020

Alice Clark


One of my birthday presents to myself was the 1972 eponymous and indeed only album by soul singer Alice Clark  on the Mainstream label.
It is one of those albums that I had heard of but not really heard apart from the occassional track. One which has cult status and which is  held in high regard by many.
I'll let Philip Freeman who made this the Bandcamp album of the day on June 18th 2019 do the talking:

Alice Clark, who died in 2004 at the young age of 57, is a legend among funk and soul aficionados. Her recorded legacy consists of two late ’60s singles and this self-titled album, produced by Bob Shad for the Mainstream label in 1972. The pensive cover photo is a key to the music contained within: the album has the classic soul sound of Muscle Shoals at times, particularly on the almost Aretha Franklin-esque opening version of Jimmy Webb’s “I Keep it Hid,” but moves into a softer, jazzier realm on tracks like “Looking at Life” and “It Takes Too Long to Learn to Live Alone.” Clark’s vocals can swell like a river threatening to overflow its banks, but more often than not she’s beautifully controlled, flowing along with the serenity of Roberta Flack or Dionne Warwick.
The band on Alice Clark includes session aces like drummer Bernard Purdie and guitarist Cornell Dupree, and Shad’s production is lush without sacrificing visceral impact. Clark, born in Brooklyn, had the restraint of a city girl, rather than the unfettered emotionality of a Southern church-bred singer; there’s something guarded, a you-won’t-hurt-me undertone to her delivery. And while the music is fundamentally soul, there are dashes of jazz thrown in here and there, particularly on the closing “Hey Girl,” which lets both the trumpeter and saxophonist off the leash, albeit briefly.
A worthy  neighbour for Gene Clark on the vinyl shelves

We are away for a few days so regular series  only will feature next week.. I'll hopefully be back after that new Blogger platform permitting.




Saturday 15 August 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - Feast of Wire




There are some people out there who claim that Feast of Wire by Calexico is the greatest album of all time. Whereas they may be prone to a little bit of exaggeration there is no denying that it is indeed a mighty fine album.

Confession time - it is the only one of theirs that I physically own with the exception of Years to Burn their latest collaboration with Iron & Wine.

I do however have copies of Spoke, the Black Light and Hot Rail the first two of which featured recently as part of  George's Second is Better than First series

Calexico, as I'm sure you all know, hail from Tuscon, Arizona and are exponents of music with a desert noir slant with a slice of mariachi and conjunto thrown in for good measure.
Head honchos Joey Burns and John Convertino were previously the rhythm section of Giant Sand who have also  graced this series
They are named after a city in California on the US/Mexican border which is kind of fitting when you consider the music they play

Feast of Wire has a little bit of everything - even athough it looks to have been overlooked altogether in the blurb on Calexico's Wiki page.
There is desert rock, country, some stonking instrumentals , Wilco like squiggly stuff and the piece de resistance the brilliant Across the Wire depicting the struggle and the inherent dangers  to Mexican immigrants  attempting to cross the border into the US.




Friday 14 August 2020

End of the Century


We were sitting in the garden on a sultry summer evening enjoying the last remnants of the sun when I had an urge to play End of the Century by The Ramones.
After all, you can't go surfing when it's 20 below
From 1980 on Sire Records it is their 5th studio album. I got my copy in pretty much mint condition for £4.99 at a record fair.

The Bruddahs produced by Phil Spector.
What's not to love?

The Ramones - Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio?

The Ramones - Danny Says

Thursday 13 August 2020

Isolation Sessions


The Isolation Sessions was conceived on 17th March 2020 as a chance for Last Night From Glasgow artists to engage in a creative project and raise money for venues and record stores affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. Incredibly, by 22nd April, twenty three artists has recorded each other's songs for this unique snapshot of unprecedented times.

The above is from the back cover of my copy which was delivered the other day
And this from a recent e-mail:

Our first pressing run of The Isolation Sessions is almost sold out. We have already donated over £3,000 stock to independent record stores and donated £3,000 to support local venues and events. More will follow.
We have decided to repress the album on both Crystal Clear Vinyl and Transparent Pink Vinyl - 125 of each. They will be shipping in around 5 weeks time and can be pre-ordered now. We still have a handful of Purple and Black vinyl left from the original run.

Tracks from : Broken Chanter, Gracious Losers, Sister John, Cloth, Close Lobsters, Annie Booth, Lola In Slacks, L-space, Nicol & Elliott, Zoe Bestel, Medicine Men, Deer Leader, Bis, Slime City, The Martial Arts, The Muldoons, Life Model, Mt. Doubt, Carla Easton, Vulture Party, Foundlings; Andre Salvador and Lemon Drink. Mixed By Chris Smith & Mastered by Paul McGeechan.
Buy the album on Vinyl along with a T-shirt and get a free Isolation Tote bag

Available from £8 to £25 and for a great  cause from the link above. You know what to do.
Here are Lola in Slacks covering Broken Chanter's Don't Move to Denmark

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Second Is Better Than First. Part 8


George writes:
And another “damn, that was the third not second album” moment happened today when I discovered “The Likes Of Us”. This meant I was unable to write about “Jesus Christ Superstar”. But it also spared me listening to“Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”. Yes, dear reader, I listen to every album featured here in its entirety. Instead, there will be music from a genre that I do not think has featured on these pages before, heavy metal. There was a comment the other week about the picture I had posted at  the top almost putting them off further exploration of the article. I’m wondering if today’s picture will put anyone off (their breakfast, maybe?)

Anyway, for today, never fear dear readers, it’s not Rush, AC/DC or Judas Priest. I do have to like the album that I claim is the better one. No, it’s Birmingham’s finest. Not ELO, not Wizard, but possibly the band who invented the genre that is heavy metal. 

I was a bit late to this lot, not buying any of their albums until ca. 2008, and there are three on the shelves. My first purchase was their first album, the second purchase the second, and the third was their third. 

The first album was recorded in one day, over a 16 hour period according to the digitally-challenged  (and former member of Jethro TullTony Iommi. Some of the tracks are obvious HM tracks, but there’s also a bluesy-hard rock feel to some, like this one:

“Black Sabbath” is not an outstanding album, but a damned fine one, and I play it more often than the follow-up, despite “Paranoid” being a better album. Which doesn’t make sense (and as we know, as Judge Judy says, “if it doesn’t make sense it’s not true” but this is an exception). It’s not the best produced album you’ll hear, the lead vocal is a bit thin and reedy and not as powerful as Plant or Gillan. But if the songs are strong enough, and  the playing good enough, you get a decent album. 



The second album is a great heavy metal album. Impossible to play quietly, and I had it blasting from “War Pigs” on, in the belief that next door was unoccupied. This turned out to be wrong. No complaints, though, and no GNR pounding on the door. 

But what a racket, great heavy riffs (of course), great songs, great album, 

“Paranoid”, the quintessential heavy metal album, and another example of Second Is Better Than First.
Thank you kindly

CC writes
Heavy bloody metal. George what are you trying to do to me and more importantly the readers?

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Velvet Underground & Nico


When I went to check past posts to see what I have previously featured by The Velvet Underground there were far more references as to how they were an influence on other bands as opposed to actual references and songs by them.
This may well be because the only album of theirs that I have is  their 1967 debut The Velvet Underground & Nico.
I also have an 12 inch single  with four tracks from the album on it and that's it.



Here are two songs from the album , one of which is on the single but has not been posted here before.
I should probably get more of their stuff.At the very least I suspect that I should have White Light/White Heat.





Monday 10 August 2020

Heaven or Hell 16


A near unanomous win last week for Hüsker Dü  and The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill over The Primevals with Living in Hell. 
Therefore the Heaven revival continues  with the score now being Hell 9 Heaven 6.

While I still have a number of tracks for consideration the quality is maybe beginning to diminish particularly on the Hell front and I was struggling a bit this week for inspiration.
Fortunately help was at had in the shape of our old friend ramone666 from the ever excellent For the Sake of the Song.
He has provided  two cracking Blues numbers for your consideration this week.

Will Mississippi Fred McDowell continue the Heaven revival with Wished I Was in Heaven Sitting Down or will John Lee Hooker with Burning Hell get us over the line?

Who's it going to be
Heaven or Hell, the choice is yours.


Mississippi Fred McDowell - Wished I Was in Heaven Sitting Down

John Lee Hooker - Burning Hell

Sunday 9 August 2020

Is this Love


Is this Love?
Well yes it is actually.
Love is the 3rd album from 1987 on the Sire label from East Kilbride's finest Aztec Camera.

Well when I say Aztec Camera it is actually  the boy wonder Roddy Frame with a group of session musicians. It includes  a few songs with an R&B influence in an (unsuccessful) attempt to break the US market.It did however reach number 10 in the UK.

Now it may not be their best album - that would be High Land Hard Rain - but it does contain three of their best songs..

Killermount Street - have you ever heard a more achingly  beautiful song about a bus station?

Aztec Camera - How Men Are

Aztec Camera - Somewhere in my Heart

Aztec Camera - Killermont Street







Saturday 8 August 2020

50 Americana Albums You Should Hear Before You Die - Guitar Town

Steve Earle has released around 20 or so albums over the last 40 years either as a solo artist or with his band the Dukes. I have most of them but my favourite still remains his 1986 debut album Guitar Town on MCA. It has to be said that 1995's Train a Comin' gives it a good run for it's money.

It has 10 tracks (according to Wiki) and is only 34 minutes and 345 seconds long and not a second it wasted. My copy has an 11th track a live recording of Good Ol' Boy (Getting Tough) taking it up to a whopping 38 minutes and 47 seconds long.

Steve Earle arrived on the scene around the same time as the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris and helped give Country music the kick up the backside it so desperately needed.
The songs have a rougher edge to them and cover subjects that had more resonance with a younger audience used to other forms of music

Everybody told me you can't get far
On thirty-seven dollars and a Jap guitar

My grandaddy was a miner, but he finally saw the light He didn't have much, just a beat-up truck and a dream about a better life

There ain't a lot that you can do in this town
You drive down to the lake and then you turn back around


Songs about a generational shift and about leaving small town America to search for a more interesting and rewarding life. They also reflect the difficulty of living in abject poverty in Reagan's America.
You could argue not much has changed although Steve Earle is still taking a stance albeit an increasingly lonely one.

Steve Earle - Guitar Town

Steve Earle - Hillbilly Highway

Steve Earle - Someday

Friday 7 August 2020

Mighty Mighty Man!


Some good rocking for you today courtesy of the Mighty Mighty Man himself R&B legend Roy Brown.
A compilation of tracks by the mighty mighty Ace label.
As Ace state the man who influenced them all with 22 sides cut between '53 - '59 for Syd Nathan's King Records, guarantees good rockin' day or night.
His vocal style.influenced the likes of Elvis Presley, Lttle Richard and James Brown with his songs like Good Rockin' Tonight being covered by countless artists.

Not to be confused with the not so mighty Roy "Chubby" Brown. This Roy Brown had talent and class.

Roy Brown - Mr Hound Dog's in Town

Roy Brown - Up Jumped the Devil

Roy Brown - Ain't No Rockin' No More


Elvis Presley - Good Rockin' Tonight

Wynonie Harris - Good Rockin' Tonight

Thursday 6 August 2020

Paging Mr Proust



For a while The Jayhawks were just about my favourite band on the planet.
I have a copy of their 1986 debut album The Jayhawks/Bunkhouse Tapes and then the next six all the way up to  2003's Rainy Day Music. I also saw them on a number of occasions during that period.

Since then they have been much less prolific releasing only four further albums from 2011 up to this year's XOXO.
I've recently been making it my business to *ahem* acquire these later albums.
One such album is Paging Mr Proust from 2016 on the Thirty Tigers label and produced by Peter Buck.
The band's line up is Gary Louris, Marc Perlman,Tim O'Reagan, Karen Grotberg and Kraig Johnson all of whom have featured on previous albums (all of them in Louris and Perlman's cases) and is the same personnel that played on 2000's Smile

I wasn't that impressed on first listen but after another couple of plays I'm beginning to find one or two things that suggest that whereas it is not a patch on the band in their prime it coul well become a grower. Some nice acoustic type tunes and harmonies with Gary Louris enjoying a brief thrash on the guitar on a couple of occasions.

The Jayhawks - Lovers in the Sun

The Jayhawks - The Devil Is In Her Eyes



Wednesday 5 August 2020

Second is Better than First. Part 7.


George writes:
I was wondering how I could communicate the first two albums of Furgone di Piufiglio without incurring the wrath of the takedown squad. But it turns out that the tedious Astral Weeks is his second release. Instead I will turn my attention to the makers of the at-times My Favourite Album Of All Time. Like many albums I have written about and will write about, the albums today were purchased out of sequence, the first Calexico album I bought was Hot Rail. I suspect that the (at-times) MFAOAT was the second one of theirs I acquired. Then that well-known Collector Syndrome kicked in and The Black Light and Spoke were purchased (the latter from Reveal Records in Derby, who labelled it a bargain at £9).



Spoke is a perfectly fine album, plenty of good tracks on it. There’s a range of musical styles, “Scout”, for example, is a twangy-surfy instrumental, “Navy Cut” is very much an americana track, as is “Point Vicente”, there’s some of that mariachi/latin influences in some tracks (“Mazurka”), and interspersed are some brief ambient instrumentals. And here’s the album stand-out wistful americana track:

The Black Light is a more musically consistent album than Spoke, the songs all have that mexican-latin feel that is associated with the band (although the piano in “Chach” does veer into Aladdin Sane territory). There’s plenty of steel guitar on this album, as can be heard on here:

And there’s this mariachi track (that reminds of the theme tune to The High Chaparral - I wonder if Calexico were fans, there is the Arizona connection.)

This album is one of those that, a few tracks in, you realise is better than the sum of its parts, it just seems to get better as you are listening to it. Of course, they have done better albums, and they have also done worse. And Spoke is by no means a “why oh why did I buy this” album, but The Black Light is one of those Second Is Better Than First albums.

Thank you kindly

CC writes

Now that’s more like it!
The Black Light also has the better cover