Monday, May 22, 2017
From Rich Cohen's enjoyable book The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones: "When Watts was fourteen, he heard Walkin' Shoes by the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. The drumming - Chico Hamilton playing with brushes - spurred him into action. He tore the strings off an old banjo and taught himself to play the snare. To fill out the sound, he banged pots and pans. His parents bought him a drum set that Christmas..."
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet - Walkin' Shoes
Friday, May 19, 2017
Hell, this is pretty damn good indeed... A Canadian from Saskatchewan, they say brother Colter Wall is only in his early twenties, but does he sound like a spring chicken? No sir, far from it. Got a mighty voice, and a repertoire that harkens back to such greats as Kris Kristofferson and Townes van Zandt. Not afraid to show his influences, he covers the latter twice on his thankfully sparsely produced second album. But it's his remarkably strong self-penned material that proves he's very much his own man already. For those of you interested: Mr. Wall will soon be touring Europe for a bit, though sadly not in my neck of the woods.
Colter Wall - Kate McCannon
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Let's stay in Dead territory for a while longer, focusing on on 1972 this time. Although it saw no studio release, deadheads everywhere still considered it a remarkably good year. The wonderful Europe '72 live set was a no-brainer of course, and then there were strong solo albums by Jerry Garcia (Garcia), Bob Weir (Ace), and Mickey Hart (Rolling Thunder) to enjoy. The better songs on these would later ease into the Dead's live repertoire, as was the case with the trio of tracks below. Hey now!
Jerry Garcia - Loser
Bob Weir - Looks Like Rain
Mickey Hart - The Pump Song
Monday, May 15, 2017
Finally available in official glory: the Dead's legendary Cornell '77 show, and in top notch Betty Board quality at that. This one's been hailed by some respectable deadheads as the finest gig they ever played, and while that's debatable of course, it sure is full of genuine American beauty. Excepting the lamentable fake-funk of Dancing In The Streets and an overblown Estimated Prophet, everything just grooves and grooves like it should. Hey now!
The Grateful Dead - Deal (Live Cornell '77)
Friday, May 12, 2017
Let's stay in Louisville a while longer to visit Will 'Bonnie Prince Billy' Oldham, who has just cooked up a fresh batch of Merle Haggard covers. No surprise there, as he regards the late country legend as one of his 'forever heroes'. Sadly, for the second time in a row here's a Bonnie Billy album that doesn't really do it for me. It's not bad mind, and the arrangements - with saxes and flutes no less - are quite adventurous, but in the end it just made me want to give my trusted Hag records another spin.
Bonnie Prince Billy - I Am What I Am
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
A warm and much-needed refuge in turbulent times, or: that new self-titled Joan Shelley album sure is sweet. In a remarkably understated Jeff Tweedy production, the singer and songwriter from Louisville proves a worthy successor to such legendary lady vocalists from the other side of the pond as Sandy Denny, Linda Thompson et al. One more surefire contender for the end of year lists.
Joan Shelley - If The Storms Never Came
Monday, May 8, 2017
Friday, May 5, 2017
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
This just in from the reissue front: The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, a compilation on the Luaka Bop imprint which focuses on the time Trane's widow - a fine jazz musician in her own right by the way - was part of a California ashram. More raga-flavoured than jazzy, her ecstatic music is probably an acquired taste for most listeners.
Alice Coltrane - Om Shanti
Monday, May 1, 2017
With labelmates like Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, and Section 25, the relatively unknown X.O.DUS was definitely the odd one out in the early days of the legendary Factory label. Which doesn't mean one should underestimate their English Black Boys, a tasty morsel of Manchester roots reggae produced by Dennis 'Blackbeard' Bovell. "Now they talk about repatriation..."
X.O.DUS - English Black Boys