Friday, May 16, 2008

Novelty Grab Bag

Thanks god it´s Friday... and I guess you all know what that means by now. Yup, it´s Grab Bag time again, where you get to hear the highlights of my personal musical diet of the past week. 

Tonight Grab Bag goes country big time, with no less than three fine novelty songs featuring southern accents, steel guitars and twang. But that´s not all folks. Also got the Soulsavers for you, with a track from last year´s wonderful collaboration with Mark Lanegan. Plus there´s a new group called Community Gun just begging to be introduced, and the reggae pick of the week just happens to be the heavenly vocal trio The Mighty Diamonds. Enjoy. I must be off now to listen to my latest acquisition: Sibylle Baier´s Colour Green album... More on her next week.

Let´s get the ball rolling with some wacky country songs. God Less America (Crypt ´98) is an amazing collection of novelty country songs. It´s subtitled A Heartrendering Set Of Country & Western Tales Of Misery And Confusion: 1955-1966 and that´s spot on for once. Just take Too Many Pills, Arkey Blue´s woeful tale of a pillpoppin´ country singer on a downslide. "The women, the pills, the whiskey, all haunt his memory..." Nice rhyme there. It suddenly strikes me this could well be another song about Ole Hank...
Arkey Blue & The Blue Cowboys - Too Many Pills MP3

From the same album (long out of print, try eBay) comes the hilarious ditty Please Don´t Go Topless, Mother. Young Troy Hess pleads with his mom to please please please stop her go-go dancing ways. How old is this kid anyway? Not yet in his teens I guess. "You´re ruining your reputation, and I can give you two big reasons why." Poor lad.
Troy Hess - Please Don´t Go Topless, Mother MP3

Time for some roots reggae now. The Mighty Diamonds have been one of Jamaica´s finest vocal trios for decades, and as far as I know they´re still around. Their finest hour without a doubt was Right Time (Virgin ´76), their flawless and very rootsy debut album. Donald ´Tabby´ Sharpe, Fitzroy ´Bunny´ Simmons and Lloyd Ferguson sure knew how to let their voices melt together in a way that must have pleased Jah. "Natty Dread Will Never Run Away." Right on.
Mighty Diamonds - Right Time MP3
Mighty Diamonds - Gnashing Of Teeth MP3

I just can´t get enough of the Soulsavers beautiful It´s Not How Far You Fall, It´s The Way You Land (V2 ´07). Their Neil Young cover Through My Sails not only features former Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan, who´s present on nearly all the tracks on the album, but we get Will Oldham in the choir as well. How atmospheric can you get? The original, the only track on Zuma (´75) without Crazy Horse but with Crosby, Stills and Nash, pales in comparison. And that´s saying something.
Soulsavers - Through My Sails MP
Neil Young - Through My Sails MP3

I´m always a sucker for good songtitles. So when Community Gun sent me their new self-released ep and I discovered a song called Midnight Moses And Eileen on it I just had to check it out... Sounds promising, don´t you agree? And lo and behold, the Highland, New York quartet proved me right with a great song. Tom Waits meets the Mats? Something like that. If I worked for a record label, I´d sign ´em up pronto.
Community Gun - Midnight Moses And Elaine MP3

Well alright then, one more song from God Less America to close up tonight´s chapter of Grab Bag. Eddie Noack (´30-´78) was a honky tonk singer and songwriter with degrees in English and journalism, surely a rarity. He got famous when Hank Snow recorded his song These Hands in ´56. The funny Dolores finds him in psycho territory. "There´s a killer in the neighbourhood, Dolores. A man who sees a girl and goes berserk..." If Dolores had just followed his sound advice to stay inside the house that fateful night, she would not have gotten killed... by her serial killer husband himself.
Eddie Noack - Dolores MP3

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