For a variety of reasons, including back-to-school- start up, time escaped me a little this past week and I didn’t get around to posting the previous week’s listening. I had a friend gift me a box of 80s vinyl a couple weeks back and I’ve been working my way through that. Also, Megatunes has closed/is closing shop and I managed to get up to Edmonton for a mad, ten minute, 75% off buying spree last weekend as they were locking the doors a week ago Saturday; while I know there was undiscovered gold left on the shelves, I’ve accepted that I got off pretty good for $50. I just wish stores could stay in business! (I understand the employees of the Edmonton store have plans for a new enterprise which is promising.) As well, I’m trying to continue through the piles on the floor and have made some headway through the miscellaneous Bs scattered about.
As always, lots of listening- most of it roots but some of it just odd.
Joe Whyte- When the Day Breaks and Devil in the Details Another one of those singers that has to eventually find you because you don’t even know he exists. Joe is giving away his When the Day Breaks e.p. as a download http://www.joewhyte.com/?section=home and it is pretty amazing. His song “4th of July” is one for the ages, I think- a slo-fi piece of hometown blues. As I often do when I get something free, I end up spending more money and immediately downloaded the just as impressive Devil in the Details. A little Gaslight Anthem in there somewhere, a whole lot of downtown country soul. As they say, support the artists.
Jay Bennett- Whatever Happened I Apologize I only discovered Bennett and this album after he died. Exactly the kind of music I love exploring. The world is most obviously full of these types of guys- immensely talented and under recognized (yes, I get the Wilco thing). One week I might ‘discover’ Stephen Simmons, the next Matt Urmy, Jerry Castle, Joe Whyte, or someone else- Keeps one listening, I find.
Moving onto the Megatunes treasure trove…I haven’t listened to everything yet, but just for fun I’ll list everything:
Various Artists- The Imus Ranch Record Surprisingly disappointing collection of mostly pedestrian covers; only the John Hiatt reworking of The Bottle Rockets’ “Welfare Music” made me sit up at attention.
Mike Stack- 98 Years One of my favourite Alberta singers and writers; I had never seen this one anywhere, and feel bad that Mike probably won’t see money for this copy. An engaging set of original material with Prine and Temptations covers as bonuses. Another create piece of cover art from Steve Coffey.
Emmitt-Nershi Band- New Country Blues This one will get more playing. Positive grooves.
The Stanley Brothers- The Complete Rich-R-Tone Sessions Earliest Recordings Vinyl edition. It just seems right to listen to the Stanleys on vinyl even if it isn’t on 78. Clear vinyl as a treat. I love this set and have played the CD regularly for years.
I also picked up copies of Rosie Flores’ Girl of the Century, Sparks’ Exotic Creatures of the Deep, Gord Matthews’ The 3rd Best Thing, Tift Merritt’s Buckingham Solo, Bryan Sutton’s Not Too Far from the Tree, and Kim Beggs’ Streetcar Heart, several of which I had already paid to download, but…
While in Edmonton, I also popped into the West Edmonton Hardly Much Value store and dug through their delete/overstock bin and found a couple things that caught my eye: Seun Tuti + Fela’s Egypt 80 self titled effort, a tribute to Steve Goodman My Old Man that looks like it may be interesting, and Allison Moorer’s Mockingbird.
From the box of vinyl, I’ve raced through a number of titles while accomplishing various tasks around the house:
The Rolling Stones- Singles Collection The London Years I’ve got through 3 of the 8 sides- Hot Rocks on steroids. Very nice.
U2- Rattle and Hum I’m pretty sure I’ve never listened to it before. I doubt I will ever again, but from listening to it this weekend, I would judge it to be a fine set. Lots of variety. I used to love U2. Not sure what happened. A friend would suggest they became popular; I think there was more to it than that.
Jean-Michel Jarre- Les Concerts en Chine Well, I listened to one side of four at least. I guess I don’t really get it.
Mike Oldfield- Crises and Five Miles Out These I get. I played the two albums every chance I had at the record stores I worked at. I have Crises downstairs so if anyone needs a copy. What ever happened to Maggie Reilly?
Cowboy Junkies- The Caution Horses I love this album and haven’t listened to it in probably close to fifteen years. What was I thinking?! A beautiful recording that, for me, is even more appealing than The Trinity Sessions. “Your memory leaves my stomach churning feeling like a lie about to be revealed…”
Big Country- Peace in Our Time Just lovely. If only I could find the Wonderland e.p.
New Order- Substance 1987 My annual dose of New Order. Check.
The The- Mind Bomb Another new one to me, although I’ve listened to other The The albums going back, again, to my record store days.
Continuing through the great mass of unshelved discs, part way across the ocean of Bs:
Belle and Sebastian- The BBC Sessions Bought simply for the live cover of “Whiskey in the Jar” but fully appreciated from start to finish.
Bearfoot- Doors & Windows No longer bluegrass, not quite Crooked Still. A more than enjoyable album from a year or so back.
Barney Bentall- The Inside Passage I bought this one last Christmas and didn’t really enjoy it. Second time around, I found more. Kind of like Stan Rogers for the left coast set. Some of the lyrical details grabbed me.
Be Bop Delux- Live! In the Air Age
Billie Joe Becoat- Reflections from a Cracked Mirror Amazing. Seek out this one if you’re open to challenge.
Darin and Brooke Aldridge- Self-titled If you listen to Bluegrass Junction you can’t hardly escape these folks. Darin’s been around for quite awhile but Brooke is a new, fresh voice. When she sings, I want to explore a whole different life, one that involves porches, hollers, and coon dogs. I appreciate bluegrass performed to this level, but since I bought it as a download I don’t know who is playing what. As talented as Darin is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he handles most everything. Yes it is pretty slick and smooth, but it is entirely honest, ringing true on every level. A keeper.
Various Artists- Dear New Orleans A collection of songs- some previously released- with New Orleans and her ongoing tribulations at heart. I think it is a very impressive package, but the second disc drags as it deteriorates with second-rate rock. The first disc maintains its pace much better, drifting from a broody Paul Sanchez tune featuring Shamarr Allen and a multi-artist take of “Dr. So and So” toward the Indigo Girls and a live take of “Kid Fears.” The highlight may be Jill Sobule’s “Where is Bobbie Gentry”; however, like much of the material, the connection to the Crescent City is lost on me.
D. B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Finally reviewing this coming Friday in the paper. All-around Americana. Lovely stuff.
Sara Hickman- Absence of Blame A gorgeous album, also reviewed this week.
Les Copeland- Don’t Let the Devil In Guitar and vocal-based blues. Couldn’t ask for more. Some blues players try too hard, embellishing their music not only with the roots of the music but with every extension of it- put in some rock n roll lick, a bit of soul shuffle, a bunch of voices. Not Copeland…unaccompanied for the most part, played cleanly with an emphasis on mood that highlights his laid back, almost laconic style. Late in the disc “Don’t Let the Devil In” and “Crying for an Angel” he does some jazz explorations, maintaining his blues focus. Also in the column this Friday.
Various Artists- Putumayo Presents Tribute to a Reggae Legend When I first listened to this Marley set, it sounded too smooth and easy listening. Second and third time through I found things to be more attractive with a greater variety of sounds and approaches.
Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams Maybe my favourite male vocalist in bluegrass…today anyway.
The Special Consensus- 35 Can’t get enough of these guys. I review this one in the upcoming Waskasoo Bluegrass newsletter- half fresh material, half archival.
Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise Also in the newsletter. Kallick doesn’t get enough credit as a bluegrass force- writing, singing, leading a band, and promoting the music. Great stuff. Buy it.
Cheryl Wheeler- Pointing at the Sun Gosh, she’s good. I need to listen to Wheeler more often.
Kim Wilde- The Remix Collection My quest to ruin any credibility I have continues.
Katrina Leskanich- The Live Album A very high energy set with a good mix of new and old.
Kim Beggs- The Wander’s Paean My new word of the week: paean. I think Beggs is the singer I’ve most enjoyed exploring this summer who isn’t John Boutté.
Jerry Butler & John Wade- Haulin’ Grass 30-plus minutes of bluegrass truckin’ songs. After hearing Butler do a spot on rendition of “Backin’ to Birmingham” in Lester Flatt voice, I was sold.
The Runaways- The Runaways and Queens of Noise History has been kind to these albums.
David Broza- Painted Postcard I haven’t listened to this one in eight years. Great sounds. Pulled off the shelf because I left a couple of his albums unpurchased at Megatunes. Dang.
Eleni Mandell- Country for True Lovers
Hey Mavis- Red Wine Reminds me a little of the Lonesome Sisters. Viola distinguishes Hey Mavis from similarly aligned acoustic roots outfits.
Clint Eastwood- Sings Cowboy Favorites Recorded in 1962, the material is quite lame but Eastwood pulls it off and maintained this listener’s interest all most the whole way through.
Carrie Newcomer- Betty’s Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer A neat summary that I listened to during a couple drives this month; Newcomer’s voice is so strong and deep. I love it, but some may find the album a little dreary and samey. She seems like such a darn nice person, too. I’m glad I bought this one a few weeks ago.