Buddy and Jim
In 2008, Lauderdale released an album as Jim Lauderdale and the Dream Players (James Burton, Steve Sheehan, Al Perkins, Glen D. Hardin, Gary Tallent and Ron Tutt). Now comes his dream duets album with fellow Nashville singer-songwriter Miller, in which the pair unleash a set of modern traditional noncomformist country — with an edge — on an unsuspecting public.
The two longtime friends are nothing if not prolific, and live by the code of artistic integrity. They pursue solo careers while making good livings as hired hands: most recently, Lauderdale with Elvis Costello and Miller with Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. They even host “The Buddy & Jim Show” on SiriusXM radio.
Lauderdale is no stranger to collaboration, with a discography that includes an album with jam band Donna the Buffalo, two with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and four with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Likewise for Miller, who’s recorded platters with singer-songwriter wife Julie and joined forces with guitarists Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz to form the Majestic Silver Strings.
On “B&J,” the mission seems to be simply to have fun, while making world-class music along the way. The close harmonies recall brother groups of yore, such as the Everlys, the Louvins, the Wilburns, the Delmores and the Stanleys. Miller’s guitar playing is so top-notch, it’s mind-boggling. Pedal steel guitarist Russ Pahl livens up more than a few tracks (check out the theremin sounds he creates on “Vampire Girl”).
The album was originally conceived as a collection of covers of songs made popular by 1950s country act Johnnie and Jack, but ended up containing multisourced covers as well as originals by Lauderdale and/or Miller. “Down South in New Orleans” is the lone Johnnie and Jack song to make the final cut, and here it absolutely rocks with Miller’s Luther Perkins-style guitar laid atop subtle pedal steel and violin while a rhumba beat bubbles beneath.
Other covers include Frank Hutchison’s “The Train That Carried My Gal From Town,” with Stuart Duncan’s trainlike fiddle; the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Lonely One in This Town,” which sounds like a duet between Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams; Joe Tex’s “I Want to Do Everything for You,” featuring Miller’s Jim Messina-style twang guitar; and Jimmy McCracklin’s “The Wobble,” coming off like Commander Cody’s “Don’t Let Go” meets Dire Straits’ “Industrial Disease.”
1. I Lost My Job Of Loving You
2. The Train That Carried My Gal From Town
3. That’s Not Even Why I Love You
4. Down South In New Orleans
5. It Hurts Me
6. Vampire Girl
7. Forever And A Day
8. Lonely One In This Town
9. Looking For A Heartache
10. I Want To Do Everything For You
11. The Wobble
Total time: 34:28
Posted December 11th, 2012
Tags: americana, blues, country, folk, rockNo Comments »
Candy Store Kid
When Luther Dickinson (touring with the Black Crowes at the time) joined brother Cody and British blues guitar man Ian Siegal onstage during their set at the 2011 Belgium Rhythm & Blues Festival, the seed was planted for the followup to Siegal’s “The Skinny” — last year’s wildly successful collaboration realized at Luther and Cody’s Zebra Ranch in Mississippi hill country.
Luther, unable to sit in for that album, generously lends his trademark slide guitar to Siegal’s even more brilliant new one. Cody produces again, actually getting to play drums (Rodd Bland helmed the kit last time), and guitarists Garry Burnside and Alvin Youngblood Hart return as well.
Luther and Cody’s regular band, the North Mississippi Allstars, haven’t had a studio release since “Keys to the Kingdom” in early 2011 — a tribute to their recently departed father, legendary producer Jim Dickinson. But they’ve toured some and Luther has been especially prolific, putting put out his first solo album, discs with side projects the Wandering and South Memphis String Band, and a collaboration with David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and Mato Nanji of Indigenous.
The extracurricular activity no doubt renewed the Dickinsons: “Candy Store Kid” is the best aggregation of hill country blues artists in recent memory. The genre fits Siegal and his Howlin’ Wolf-style vocals like a glove, his seven original compositions sounding almost as authentic as those of real-deal musicians like Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. Also included are Lightnin’ Malcolm’s “So Much Trouble,” Garry Burnside’s “Strong Woman” and the obscure “Green Power” (plucked from Little Richard’s 1971 LP “King of Rock and Roll”).
1. Bayou Country
2. Loose Cannon
3. I Am The Train
4. So Much Trouble
6. The Fear
7. Earlie Grace Jnr
8. Green Power
9. Strong Woman
11. Hard Pressed (What Da Fuzz?)
Total time: 46:14
Posted November 6th, 2012
Tags: blues, country, folk, funk, rock, soul, swampNo Comments »
Dutch bluesman Theessink’s laid-back baritone perfectly complements Mississippi-born Evans’ gospel-informed tenor. In the same vein as their first collaboration (2008′s “Visions”), “Delta Time” is all voices and guitars (Theessink on acoustic, Evans on electric). Ry Cooder adds fretwork to three tracks, and Evans’ singing mates Willie Green Jr. and Arnold McCuller harmonize with Evans on five selections.
Theessink, with four decades of touring and recording under his belt, is finally starting to make a name for himself outside of Europe. Evans, before becoming a solo performer, was a session vocalist for countless artists (Eric Clapton, John Fogerty, Pops Staples, Boz Scaggs, Maria Muldaur) and formed a duo with Bobby King that appeared on several of Cooder’s finer albums.
Serendipitously, the National Association of Music Merchants convention was happening in nearby Anaheim while “Delta” was being recorded in Los Angeles, leading to the National Reso-Phonic Guitars and Deering Banjo companies loaning some of their instruments. Theessink had a field day overdubbing National guitar, National mandolin and Deering gutstring banjo.
Top-notch recording and mixing to tape by Andrew Bush at Grandma’s Warehouse further enhanced the front-porch vibe, and mastering by Gavin Lurssen put the icing on the cake.
1. Delta Time
2. Blues Stay Away From Me
3. It Hurts Me Too
4. How Come People Act Like That
5. The Birds And The Bees
6. Build Myself A Home
7. Down In Mississippi
8. Shelter From The Storm
9. I Need Money
10. Heaven’s Airplane
11. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man
12. Honest I Do
Total time: 58:18
Posted October 15th, 2012
Hans Theessink’s website
Terry Evans’ website
Tags: blues, folk, gospel, soulNo Comments »
It’s About Pride
Rocket Science Ventures
The Outlaws’ self-titled debut came out in July 1975. They were the first rock group signed to Clive Davis’ Arista record label. “There Goes Another Love Song” and the 10-minute opus “Green Grass and High Tides Forever” became instant FM radio staples, taking the album to No. 13 on the Billboard 200.
Thirty-seven years, several personnel changes, one reunion, a bitter trademark battle and three passings of original recording members later, the current Outlaws incarnation has managed to pull off the group’s sixth studio album and first new record in 18 years.
“It’s About Pride” is not “Once an Outlaw,” the reputed 13-track, in-the-can album some say was shelved after singer/co-lead-guitarist Hughie Thomasson died in 2007 and his widow lost a subsequent legal battle over rights to the group’s name. But one song on “Pride” — ”Trail of Tears,” by current co-lead-guitarist Chris Anderson — apparently was among “Once’s” tracks.
Thomasson undoubtedly was The Lone Outlaw, the group’s sole constant member until his death. And if it exists, “Once” might be superior to “Pride.” But this new album was still worth the wait.
The remaining original members — singer/co-lead-guitarist Henry Paul and drummer Monte Yoho — and four others (mostly onetime members of the Outlaws, the Henry Paul Band and/or Paul’s platinum-selling country band Blackhawk) do an admirable job of continuing the Outlaws legacy.
The trademark three-lead-guitar attack that earned the nickname Florida Guitar Army is intact, as well as the classic three-part harmonies. And though some tracks tilt a tad toward slick country, as opposed to the trad-country/bluegrass influences found on second LP “Lady in Waiting,” the boys prove ready, willing and able to rock — particularly on the second half of “Pride’s” seven-and-a-half-minute title track, which references the group’s role in the Southern rock movement.
Other highlights: the boogie fun of motorcycle-themed “Born to Be Bad”; the banjolike electric rhythm guitar on “The Flame”; the thundering bass and crashing drums approximating horse hooves for “Trouble Rides a Fast Horse”; and the gradually increasing tempo of “So Long” that culminates in a short-but-sweet instrumental tour de force to take the album out.
1. Tomorrow’s Another Night
2. Hidin’ Out in Tennessee
3. It’s About Pride
4. Born To Be Bad
5. Last Ghost Town
6. Nothin’ Main About Main Street
7. The Flame
8. Trail Of Tears
9. Right Where I Belong
10. Alex’s Song
11. Trouble Rides A Fast Horse
12. So Long
Total time: 57:38
Posted September 25th, 2012
Tags: blues, country, rock, southern rockNo Comments »
Bend in the Road
In following up “Precious Little,” his notable 2006 comeback, Jeremy Spencer has crafted his fifth and finest solo release.
Maybe “Precious Little” was Spencer’s way of getting his studio legs back after a nearly three-decade absence from recording. Or perhaps choosing to make “Bend in the Road” a collaboration gave it that extra oomph. Then again, it could simply be — as he told The Oakland (Mich.) Press in January 2010 — that “I’ve got so much material ’cause I’ve just been, like, dormant. I just turned 61, so you do kind of want to get it out while you can and show people what you’ve got.”
Whatever the reason, “Bend” is a startling achievement for the founding Fleetwood Mac slide guitarist. It starts out in a solid and more traditional-sounding blues vein than its predecessor, but by Track 11 it’s in full folk-rock mode.
Speaking of tradition, the selection of covers this time around is even better than last: two songs by mentor Elmore James (“Cry for Me Baby” and “Stranger Blues”); a tune by James’ cousin James Williamson, aka Homesick James (“Homesick”); and an Otis Rush staple (“Homework”).
Kudos to Spencer on several other fronts, including also being the album’s keyboardist; generously including four instrumentals; occasionally adding violin-cello embellishments; and using literature or poetry as inspiration for three songs — “I Walked a Mile With Sorrow” (Robert Browning, King Solomon and Jesus), “Secret Sorrow” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) and the title track (Praveen).
Special recognition is due for his collaboration with electric lead, rhythm and acoustic guitarist Brett Lucas. From Spencer’s liner notes for “Bend”:
Being an “elder statesman” in the music field, I have been asked if I had considered working with younger, like-minded musicians and performers to produce contemporary material. The question usually included a referral to Carlos Santana’s multiplatinum “Supernatural” album of about a decade ago.
Yes, I had considered it.
A positive example of such a like-minded experience for me began with an encounter with Brett Lucas, a respected guitarist from Detroit, who has been working the musical scene there since he was 15.
I heard about Brett through my friend and slide-guitar aficionado, Mark Grigorian, who told me that Brett Lucas was a guitarist for a Fleetwood Mac cover band called Rattlesnake Shake. I said that I would consider working with Brett if Mark would send me a clip of the young man playing a slow, sensitive blues solo. He sent me a live video clip of Brett playing just that on a soul number performed by Bettye LaVette. I was impressed and told Mark that I’m on, and at the beginning of 2010, we endeavoured to realise a recording venture together.
Lucas and the other musicians in the core backup band — James Simonson on electric and standup bass and Todd Glass on drums and percussion — have since formed a blues-rock band called Saint Cecilia and released their debut album of the same name.
2. Cry For Me Baby
3. Whispering Fields
4. I Walked A Mile With Sorrow
7. Secret Sorrow
8. Stranger Blues
10. Desired Haven
11. Come To Me
12. Merciful Sea
14. Bend In The Road
Total time: 1:00:03
Posted September 17th, 2012
Tags: blues, folk, rockNo Comments »