Saturday, April 19, 2008

Grab bag belissima

Grab bags always get posted here on Fridays, but I didn´t make it home on time yesterday night. Got back just a little too late from a few wonderful days in Rome. It was the city of cities long ago, but nowadays it´s still an extremely pleasant place to wander around in. And the food is heavenly... The taste of pasta with truffels still lingers in my mouth while I type this. Add great wine and strong espresso and you know you´re in Italia la bella. But alora, as they say a lot in the streets of Rome, enough of that and on to the music. What did I enjoy this week? Mostly old stuff. The Son Volt anthology has been in heavy rotation, as was The Best Of Sandy Denny. And then there´s always Neil Young of course. Two live tracks from Tonight´s The Night? Yummy.

Here we go. I recently bought The Best Of James & Bobby Purify (Sony), and it´s got me hummin´ever since. Cousins James and Bobby scored a million selling hit with the immortal I´m Your Puppet in ´66, but all 25 songs collected on this disc are great. Soul with a capital S. Check out Wish You Didn´t Have To Go to see what I´m on about.
James & Bobby Purify - Wish You Didn´t Have To Go MP3

Sandy Denny was the figure head of the British folk scene in the late sixties and the seventies. All her music - with Fairport Convention, with Fotheringay and solo - is timeless. The Best Of Sandy Denny (Island) is a nice place to start exploring her music. Denny died on 21 April 1978, aged only 31, the consequence of a fall down a flight of stairs a month previously. Who knows where the time goes indeed.
Sandy Denny - Who Knows Where The Time Goes MP3

I´ve been playing the superlative Son Volt anthology A Retrospective: 1995-2000 (Rhino ´05) a lot recently. Of the two bands that rose from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, I´ve always preferred Jay Farrar´s Son Volt to Jeff Tweedy´s Wilco. Do yourself a favour and listen to their beautiful interpretation of the old Leadbelly composition Ain´t No More Cane. Farrar knows the song from The Basement Tapes, so here´s that version - from The Band minus Bob - too. Has anyone got the Leadbelly original? Is Son Volt slowly becoming the new Band? Questions, questions.
Son Volt - Ain´t No More Cane MP3
The Band - Ain´t No More Cane MP3

Big Star´s third, better known as Sister Lovers (´75, reissued on Rykodisc) is one of the most intense albums I know. Powerpop on downers. It was produced by Jim Dickinson btw, featured in a recent post here. Holocaust is Alex Chilton at his most morbid, a man almost falling to pieces. "Everybody goes, leaving those who fall behind... Everybody goes as far as they can, they don´t just care.. You´re a wasted face, you´re a sad-eyed lie, you´re a holocaust". Heavy stuff. And guess what, Son Volt did a great cover of this song too... You just can´t beat the original, but this is one hell of a try. They almost sound like Crazy Horse here. Not so strange, as Sister Lovers has often been compared to Neil Young´s emotional masterpiece Tonight´s The Night.
Big Star - Holocaust MP3
Son Volt - Holocaust MP3

Ok, ok, I´ll play you some stuff from Tonight´s The Night too. Not from the regular album though, as you´ve got that already, right? Here are two tracks recorded live in ´73 in Manchester with the Santa Monica Flyers, who were basically Crazy Horse minus recently deceased guitarist Danny Whitten. Nils Lofgren replaced him. Young started his shows at the time with the announcement "Welcome to Miami Beach, ladies and gentlemen, everything is cheaper than it looks". Often drunk on tequila, he then proceeded to play the whole album (which wasn´t out yet) from start to finish, alienating audiences expecting old favorites. In retrospect these shows were ragged but utterly brilliant of course.
Neil Young - Mellow My Mind (live in Manchester 3-11-´73) MP3
Neil Young - Tired Eyes (live in Manchester 3-11-´73) MP3

We´re signing off with Texas Gladden, a pretty unique singer who was born in 1895 in Saltville, Virginia. Alan Lomax recorded her ballad singing both in the field and in a studio quite a few times between ´41 and ´59. Find them on Ballad Legacy (Rounder records). The Devil And The Farmer´s Wife is a good - and very funny - example of her greatness. These ancient folk songs never go out of style now, do they? "The old woman went a-whistlin´over the hill, saying: the devil won´t have me, I wonder who will". Ciao for now.
Texas Gladden - The Devil And The Farmer´s Wife MP3

1 comment:

S. Gregg said...

I nominate The Felice Brothers as heir to the throne of The Band.