Archive for the ‘Appleseed Recordings’ Tag

The Old Stuff, 2018   1 comment

The Old Stuff: Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Reissue, Archival, Live, Tribute, Re-recording, and Compilation Releases of 2018:

1. Bobbie Gentry – The Girl from Chickasaw County : The Complete Capitol Masters The best box set I can recall purchasing, this 8-disc beauty features all the Capitol tracks one knew existed, and a whole bunch we didn’t. Seventy-five—count ’em—75 unreleased demos, alternate and live versions of songs, along with her complete seven album Capitol album run, even more from the BBC, and the elusive “Love Took My Heart and Mashed That Sucker Flat.”  Beautifully packaged with postcards that will never be mailed, a ton of photos, essays…and—most importantly—the music sounds wonderful. Only things missing—as far as I can tell, and it does lay outside the title of the set—is the soundtrack version of “Ode to Billy Joe” [sic] released in 1976 and a deeper dive into recording session dates and details for us liner note fools. It is a lot; I just let it play and play. (Purchased)

2. David Davis & the Warrior River Boys- Didn’t He Ramble: Songs of Charlie Poole reviewed here (Serviced CD)

3. Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard- Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969 reviewed here (Serviced download) 

4. Lone Justice- The Western Tapes, 1983 Lone Justice was a band that arrived when I needed it to, their debut engaging an interest in tradition-infused, countrified-rock that continues to this day. Not having had the benefit of experiencing the California-based band during their genesis, Lone Justice emerged as a stunning wonder, a slab of black vinyl equal parts (in my mind, at the time) Dolly Parton, Rachel Sweet, The Blasters, and Jason & the Scorchers. From the first listen, I knew I had found that for which I had been searching. While insiders and widely-read writers of the day ‘pooh-bahed’ the album as being too slick—and did worse to the brilliant Little Steven-produced follow-up Shelter—as a digression from their early and legendary live appearances, those of us who didn’t know better believed Maria McKee and her cohorts were damn close to the second coming of Emmylou, Gram, and all the rest.

The Western Tapes, 1983 is a six-song EP capturing the earliest demo renditions of two songs that appeared on that eponymous debut, one of which—”Don’t Toss Us Away”—sounds—begrudgingly, he admits—more incredible than ever: on first listen, by the time McKee got to the chorus a second time, I was a puddle of spent emotion. Also included is a stunning take of “The Train,” a track that eventually appeared—in a different form—on a compilation, as well as “I See It” and “How Lonesome Life Has Been,” numbers I don’t believe previously encountered and immediately loved.

A wonderful wee set, and one waits in anticipation of what Omnivore may still have planned for us. For a group with only two original albums to its name, Lone Justice’s vaults have been fair mined in the thirty-plus years since their dissolution. We can only hope what emerges next is as strong as this brief set. For newcomers, start with the Geffen albums (which, upon listening this week, remain incredible and faithful friends) and work your way to this splendid creation,the vinyl version of which looks beautiful, if unavailable at my favourite haunt; the download edition is quite satisfactory. (Serviced download)

5. Rodney Crowell- Acoustic Classics Not so much stripped down as reinvented, there are ten familiar songs included performed in the manner some of us prefer our music, seemingly intimate, relatively unvarnished, and certainly unplugged. “Shame On The Moon” is completely rewritten, surprisingly for the better although I never thought the original was as awkward as Crowell apparently did; it is now a reflective, spoken-word interlude amongst songs familiar. The very recognizable bulk of songs are refreshed, and a new song, “Tennessee Wedding” fits comfortably within the format. An excellent set. (Purchased CD)

6. Various Artists- Appleseed Records 21st Anniversary: Roots and Branches reviewed here (Serviced download) 

7. Various Artists- Epilogue: A Tribute to John Duffey reviewed here (Serviced download) 

8. Sylvia- Second Bloom: The Hits Re-Imaginedreviewed here (Serviced CD) 

9. Jr. GoneWild- Brave New Waves Session I could listen to this one all week. For those of us who taped radio shows and Austin City Limits episodes, waiting for moments of magic, volumes like this are manna. With apologies to The Models, Edmonton’s third greatest band to emerge from the 80s, and therefore forever—behind only facecrime and Idyl Tea—Jr. Gone Wild released essential albums in their day, and thanks to this archival series, a set recorded for the CBC in May of 1988 has been unleashed. Brave New Waves and Brent Bambury were institutions for some of us during the formative, music-hungry years of university. [An aside to this point: at least seven and perhaps eight of the artists listed here were first heard by me during those U of A days.] These performances, including a handful of songs that would eventually appear on Too Dumb To Quit, do not disappoint with a superlative balance of rock ‘n’ twang. Their latest song “Barricades (The Hockey Riot Song)” is pretty good, too. The legend continues…(Purchased CD) 

10. Gene Clark- Gene Clark Sings for You I only started the Gene Clark deep dive this year, and I suppose my timing couldn’t have been better. The majority of these tracks were found on acetates in the Liberty Records vaults, and require absolutely no effort to appreciate. (Serviced download) 

11. The Earls of Leiscester- Live at the CMA Theater in the Country Music Hall of Fame reviewed here (Serviced CD) 

12. Doc Watson- Live at Club 47 Do we need more archival Doc Watson? No. Are we glad there continues to be a stream of itreleased? Yup. More of the good stuff. (Purchased download) 

13. Roland White & Friends- A Tribute to the Kentucky Colonels reviewed here (Serviced download) 

14. The Louvin Brothers- Love & Wealth: The Lost Recordings reviewed here (Serviced CD) 

15. Various Artists- Johnny Cash: Forever Words- The Music mentioned here (Purchased CD) 

Some wonderful stuff released this year. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.

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Roland White & Appleseed Recordings reviews   Leave a comment

Over at Country Standard Time, two of my reviews have been published. Roland White (& Friends) latest is a star-studded tribute to his legendary bluegrass group The Kentucky Colonels. Meanwhile, Appleseed Recordings celebrates their 21st anniversary with a three-disc set featuring several previously unreleased cuts by Fervor Coulee faves John Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Russell. The Appleseed set is neatly divided into ‘political action songs,’ ‘singer-songwriter, rootsy kinda stuff, and mostly ‘trad. arr.’ with a broad cross-section represented: the British tradition, as well as African-American spirituals, Spanish-language songs, and old-timey songs that made the transition to being American ‘standards.’ Well-constructed. Both are highly recommended.

Pete Seeger- Pete Remembers Woody and Pete Seeger & Lorre Wyatt- A More Perfect Union   Leave a comment

Pete Seeger Pete Remembers Woody

Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt A More Perfect Union

both Appleseed Recordings

Even today, Pete Seeger records more albums of higher quality than many musicians a fraction of his 93 years. This autumn, Appleseed came out with two additional collections of Seeger material to complement their previous Seeger-focused tribute albums and Seeger’s own Grammy-winning set of a few years ago, At 89.

Pete Remembers Woody is simply amazing. For those of us who find ourselves under the spell of Seeger, there are few things more enjoyable than listening to the troubadour sharing his tales; in this instance, all are focused around Woody Guthrie. As the liner notes state, it would have made sense to record a collection of Guthrie songs recorded by others with the occasional anecdote from Seeger. Fortunately, project coordinator David Bernz realized the treasure he had in hand and opted for a set featuring “Pete Seeger telling us about Woody Guthrie, punctuated by music.”

What we are gifted here then is two hours of Seeger yarns accented by music from Bernz, Pete and Arlo Guthrie, Cathy Fink and Marnie Marxer, Work o’ the Weavers, and others. Mostly though, we have Seeger educating about Woody Guthrie- mentor, friend, enigma- through story. It would be a disservice to Seeger to tell his remembrances here because half the charm is in the delivery, the voice that is instantly recognizable. The parallels of history to modern politics, the flip-flops more specifically, are readily apparent. The elements of social justice, viewed now as then by many as a threat to the social fabric, are provided a historical context that appears both quaint- because, in hindsight, they don’t appear that radical- and scary: imagine a time with the merest hint of one’s beliefs could label one as a threat to the country. Seeger’s memory of his times with Guthrie appear clear and the stories roll off his tongue with both charm and vinegar.

The musical interludes that bridge the various experiences are spot-on. Work o’ the Weavers bring the folk sound of the fifties and early-sixties alive. Cathy Fink’s banjo is always welcome. David Bernz’s “Woody’s Ghost” is a three-part composition that captures the album’s over-arching spirit admirably. Guthrie is heard a couple times, once with Cisco Houston performing “New York Town” and with the Almanac Singers on “The Sinking of the Reuben James.” Seeger breaks into song throughout, providing his stories with additional colour.

Pete Remembers Woody is more than a recording documenting one man’s memories of a legend. It is a historical perspective on a movement that altered the course of the American story- and, more importantly for some of us, the American musical journey. Stunning stuff, this.

The second volume is A More Perfect Union which Seeger recorded with his long-time friend Lorre Wyatt. Several guests- most notably Bruce Springsteen, Dar Williams, Tom Morello, Steve Earle, and Emmylou Harris- add their voices to this collaborative recording.

Springsteen appears on the lead track, taking a couple leads throughout the sing-a-long “God’s Counting on Me…God’s Counting on You.” His phrasing when singing “It’s time to turn things around, trickle up, not trickle down” is impactful considering what he has done over the years to support many labour and social causes. One can be cynical of multi-millionaires singing for social change, but one needn’t be when the cause is true and heartfelt.

The album may be overwhelming to those not used to listening to music of conscience. The principles of social justice is woven into each note of each song: take it or leave it.

Wyatt’s signature song “Somos el Barco/We Are the Boat” is performed here with the songwriter joined by Seeger and Emmylou Harris along with a large choir of voices. “Howling for Our Supper” winks at the self-indulgent nature of songwriters while the following track, “My Neighbor’s Needs” is- like several of the songs- a call to action. Listening to “This Old Man Revisited,” one realizes that Steve Earle has based his cadence on the childhood staple more than once, and I don’t mean that in the smart ass way it sounds. Dar Williams joins in on “This Old Man Revisited” and does an even more impressive job on the Hurricane Katrina opus “Memories Out of Mud.”

Included on A More Perfect Union are fourteen newly written tracks from Seeger and Lorre. This freshness is palatable as each song seemingly reinvigorates the duo. There are those who will run from any collection of Seeger music, put off either by ones interpretation of his politics or by his voice, but those folks are missing something special. Like few others, Pete Seeger is a folk essential. And even as he slows down on his performance commitments, there is no shaking his commitment to the power of folk music.

While the guest vocalists will get more than their fair share of mentions- including here- it is Seeger and Wyatt who deserve the glory. Whether partnering with songwriters and singers who share their vision, or simply singing their songs together, the pair carry the album for more than an hour. They crack wise on “Old Apples” and reveal wisdom elsewhere, as in “A Toast to the Times,” the stark “These Days in Zimbabwe,” and “Bountiful River.” If he never records another song, Seeger’s “Somebody Else’s Eye” will stand as sentinel of his power as a writer and his prowess as a vocalist. As she does within “Bountiful River,” Sara Milonovich contributes violin accompaniment that is more than impressive.

A More Perfect Union, a recording fraught with challenge and perseverance as detailed in David Bernz’s notes, is a folk delight.

As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee; I hope you find writing and comment of interest and value. Donald

Folk Time Tunnel- Amchitka & Pete Seeger   Leave a comment

Due to a miscommunication, my column scheduled for last week ran today. No big deal really as I was not advancing anything of a time-sensitive matter. However, since the column was submitted, a couple interesting shows have been added to the local roots music calendar.

This coming Friday, Dec. 18, a fundraiser for a few area charities including the food bank goes at The Hub downtown featuring a variety of acts- the only one I have nailed down is Will White with Byron Myhre. $10 at the door and I’ll try to find the entire slate. Also, in huge news, Sam Baker with Gurf Morlix will make a Valentine’s Day appearance at the Matchbox. I caught the pair at the Edmonton Folk Festival this summer, and I dare say Gurf almost overshadowed Sam.  I have already reserved my tickets for that one. Also, bluesman Mark Sterling brings The Songs of John Lennon to the same venue March 6.

This week I reviewed two new albums, the Amchitka set from Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Phil Ochs and the 1965 live set from Pete Seeger.

Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Phil Ochs

Amchitka

Greenpeace

A double-set documenting the 1970 Vancouver event ($3 a ticket!) that launched the endeavours of Greenpeace, those of a certain age are sure to find Amchitk fascinating.

Looking back, a very impressive lineup: Joni Mitchell at the peak of her powers, prior to going arty; James Taylor having just released his breakthrough Sweet Baby James album; and Phil Ochs, the poet prince of the Greenwich Village set.

Mitchell is more lighthearted than one might expect, cracking wise dropping a snippet of Bonie Maronie into Big Yellow Taxi, asking forgiveness to ‘putter around here a minute’ when she loses her way during For Free. Mitchell features a number of tunes from Ladies of the Canyon, and performs on guitar, piano, and dulcimer. Mr. Tambourine Man is just one of the delightful surprises within her thirty five-minute set, made more so when Taylor ambles in to bring it home.

Taylor sings from his first three albums, including tunes from the then unreleased Mud Slide Slim. Songs that would become standards- Carolina in My Mind, Something in the Way She Moves, Fire and Rain– resonate brightly almost forty years later.

At the time, Phil Ochs was as big a name within folk circles as Mitchell, lacking populist appeal perhaps but unrepentant in his convictions. A seven-minute rendition of Joe Hill is masterful, while I Ain’t Marching Anymore and Rhythms of Revolution reminds one of a time when it appeared music just may change the world. Throughout the set Ochs demonstrates that earnestness need not defeat entertainment.

As a sliver of folk-rock history, Amchitka (named for the Aleutian Island where U.S. nuclear bomb tests were protested by Greenpeace) captures a seminal moment in the development of the folk-rock, singer-songwriter era.

Devoid of the planned spontaneity such a benefit now requires, this set highlights a time when the music world seemed less like business and more like community.

Pete Seeger

Live in ’65

Appleseed Recordings

To be valued as true ‘folk music’ there needs to be more than an acoustic guitar or banjo and slightly off-key singing. An attempt to encourage social upheaval thorough a revolution inspired by music is at the core of folk music- whether challenging the structures of 18th century Britain or the constraints of 20th century America, the singer encouraged change.

Recorded in Pittsburgh in 1965, this set captures Pete Seeger at his storytelling and entertaining finest. His manner seems quite quaint more than forty years later; it is hard to imagine that politics and activism made him a target of government scrutiny. Yet his influence on those who would follow- from Bruce Springsteen (who rewrote He Lies in an American Land, included here) to Billy Bragg and Ani DiFranco- is obvious.

Among the 31 cuts included in this previously unreleased concert recording are Seeger standards including Turn! Turn! Turn!, Guantanamera, This Little Light of Mine, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, and Old Joe Clark. Less familiar and as such a little more interesting may be Peat Bog Soldiers with its roots in a Nazi concentration camp, Going Across the Mountain, and When I First Came to This Land. Lovely.

Tom Rush- What I Know   Leave a comment

Tom Rush

What I Know

Appleseed

 

Tom Rush (“Circle Game”, “No Regrets”) is best known as one of the many folk singers who crossed over to the pop field in the late sixties. Like countless contemporaries, with time Rush faded from view; What I Know serves as his first studio album in more than three decades.

 

Rush has remained active; he has maintained a regular touring schedule and live albums have been released. Time has been kind to his voice, and What I Know stands on its own as a superior folk album whether Rush’s past is considered or not.

 

Rush reminds one of Chip Taylor, himself a performer who left the limelight for many years before embarking on a successful comeback. Rush’s delivery is languid, and on a song such as “You’re Not Here With Me” he affects a half-spoken, partly sung quality that is very reminiscent of Taylor.

 

A man with many friends, Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, and Bonnie Bramlett join Rush in duets, and the ladies complement Rush’s rich voice. Nashville A-listers including Harry Stinson, Fats Kaplin, Mike Henderson, and Suzy Ragsdale contribute.

What I Know alternates between light, bouncy ditties (“Hot Tonight” and “What I Know”), thoughtful examinations (“East of Eden”, “All A Man Can Do”, and “Too Many Memories”), and the familiar (“River Song” and a splendid rendering of “Drift Away”).

The results are spectacular.