Saturday, July 31, 2004

Tom Russell Indians Cowboys Horses Dogs (Hightone Records)

This is how good Tom Russell is: his version of Seven Curses on his new album made me momentarily forget it was written by Bob Dylan. I thought, what a great song, Tom Russell is a genius. A few seconds later I came to my senses but my judgement remains, he's a genius and this has shot to the top of my list of best Dylan covers ever.

Sorry, Emmylou.

Another thing I love about this album: a man who isn’t afraid to sing about pet dogs and toy horses. And he pulls it off. Russell is one of musicians great historians, listening to him is an exhilirating journey through the American south west and Mexico set to the multinstrumental brilliance of Andrew Hardin and peppered with rousing yipee-kay-ays. His voice can rumble low, soar high and has that wonderful country ache-and-break at just the right moments.

It isn’t all rodeos and cock fighting, Russell can do sweetly romantic with the best of them, such as here with Linda Thompson's No Telling and his own Bucking Horse Moon (and a lot of his softer side has to do with moons, Walking on the Moon, Throwin' Horsehoes at the Moon … )

I've already said that his The Man From God Knows Where will be going with me the next time I'm stuck on a desert island, Indians Cowboys Horses Dogs isn't far behind.

Hoyt Axton - el cheapo ($9.95) collection from Castle Pulse.

I picked this up because Rob Luckey and the Lucky Bastards have started doing Greenback Dollar and I realised my familiarity with Hoyt was pretty much zero. These songs are all from 1963-64. What a revelation and what versatility.

His own Greenback Dollar is loose and wild (love that growl and tremor in his voice), Voodoo Blues and Thunder 'n' Lightning are driving, twangy blues, close your eyes and you can smell the long hippy hair and paisley shirts on the uber-folky Five Hundred Miles, the super-silly There's a Tiger in The Closet sounds like something The New Main Street Singers would do and as for Red, White and Blue, let's just say, to quote John Hiatt, I don’t think Kenny Chesney's ever gonna record this song:

Red, White and Blue was a shroud
Red, White and Blue was a shroud
Say, here's a medal made of shinin' gold
Your son is dead, 19 years old
Hey, hey momma, ain't you proud?

Next up, I'll have to check out his 1990 comeback album Spin of the Wheel. Unfortunately he went to his eternal reward in 1999.

Edited a million times to fix all the dumb typos.

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