Archive for the ‘Sylvia’ 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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Sylvia- Second Bloom: The Hits Re-Imagined review   1 comment

sylvia-second-bloom-web

Sylvia Second Bloom: The Hits Re-Imagined Red Pony Music http://www.sylviamusic.com/

For several months during the 1982/1983 winter, “Nobody” became one of my favourite songs. It had been a hit the year before, I knew, but I didn’t pay attention to the song until I had an early morning job driving truck for the distributor of the area daily, picking up a truckload of bundled newspapers shortly after midnight, and driving through the dark—barely awake—delivering to various drop points for carriers to distribute once dawn broke.

It was during these dark mornings of solitude, listening to AM radio, that I became enamoured with several songs I had over-looked when originally released, songs that seemingly played each time I made the trek from Edmonton through Beaumont and into and around Leduc. With no effort I can recall some of the songs: Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out,” “8675309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone, Karla Bonoff’s “Personally,” Juice Newton’s “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard On Me,” Dexys Midnight Runners “Come On, Eileen,” and Sylvia’s crossover hit, “Nobody.”

Sylvia had other hits, but none came close to the widespread and universal success of “Nobody,” one of six (!) Kye Fleming/Dennis Morgan songs included on this 10-song distillation of the artist’s hit years, 1980-1985. Even hard-rockin’, FM-radio loving, 18-year old me knew that the song was ubiquitous for most of 1982. Excepting “Sweet Yesterday” (#12, 1981) and the fitting set closing “You Can’t Go Back Home” (last track, side A of Just Sylvia), the songs herein were all country top ten hits including her pair of #1’s, “Nobody” and “Drifter.”

What’s different from the compilations released over the years, including the definitive RCA-years set Anthology, is that Sylvia has elected to re-record these hits to better reflect the performer she is today. Nothing new in this as country artists have frequently done so, if for no other reason than to own masters of the songs with which they are most associated. Some have done so very successfully, including Newton, Lacy J. Dalton, and Kim Carnes all of whom have re-recorded their hits to a standard equalling if not exceeding the originals. Rather than being a rushed endeavour intended for digital or concert table sales, Second Bloom: The Hits Re-Imagined is most obviously a venture undertaken with considerable consideration.

35-plus years on, Sylvia continues to have full control of her considerable vocal talents. Deeper vocally  than when Tom Collins (and later, Brent Maher) produced her, Sylvia circa 2018 appears to approach the songs with the wisdom earned with time. “Nobody” isn’t quite as buoyant as it once was, and the song is better for it: the repercussions of a husband’s cheating ways shouldn’t necessarily sound quite so much like the bouncy, synthesized anthem as, in retrospect, the 1982 rendition did.

The sound of the camera that kicks off “Snapshot” has been updated to that of a smartphone, and that isn’t the only change. As with all the songs here, “Snapshot” sounds brighter and less manufactured when compared to the RCA counterpart. The originals were of their time, of course, and they have held up over hundreds of radio listens. Compared to these new takes, they truly pale. Part of the reason is that the mature Sylvia’s voice is more powerful in every way—more forceful when necessary, more subtle, more vulnerable when suited. But it is the instrumentation that is most obviously improved, and that is a result of stripping away the gloss and dross of those (now) obviously over-produced sessions

I have spent much of the past month re-listening to Anthology and searching out online versions of Just Sylvia, Surprise, and One Step Closer and I was surprised how ‘un-country’ the songs and albums sound in retrospect. By comparison, Second Bloom: The Hits Re-Imagined is positively down-home. “Fallin’ In Love” benefits from Andy Leftwich’s fiddle, while the earliest songs—“Tumbleweed” and “Drifter” have the versatile Harry Stinson and Jim Glaser singing harmony. Album co-producer John Mock—with whom Sylvia has worked for more than twenty years—understands her music, and does much of the instrumental work across the album, playing a variety of guitars and other stringed instruments including mandolin and banjo.

Sylvia was one of country music’s premier vocalists. She was once the Academy of Country Music’s Female Vocalist of the Year—tying her with Dolly Parton, Wynonna, and Mary Chapin Carpenter—and she had twenty charting songs, and possesses a ‘career song’ that will forever be played on commercial country radio. A new album from Sylvia—even one featuring re-recordings of decades-old hits—is a rare event, one worth celebrating.

Absorbing this album over several weeks, it becomes apparent that Sylvia has continued to evolve and grow as a singer and artist in the thirty years since the hits stopped coming. More in the line of Where In The World and The Real Story than the mainstream RCA discs, Second Bloom: The Hits Re-Imagined  demonstrates that Sylvia has much to offer her fans, both those who are just discovering her and those who have been in for the long haul. That I might prefer refreshed versions of more songs—“Victims of Goodbye” or “Mill Song,” perhaps—have been included would be quibbling about an already enjoyable album.

 

Posted 2018 June 3 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

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