Friday, October 12, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Ages ago, I got the second volume of the Sopranos soundtrack and was captivated by "Black Books" by Nils Lofgren. It's still one of my very favourite songs. His solo work hasn't always reached those heights, but I got Sacred Weapon (2006) the other day and it's excellent. Rocky, bluesy, funky, a bit of country including Nils of some gorgeous pedal steel, interesting and varied songs, Nils' pixie-ish voice carrying it all. The cover is a bit cadaver-esque but that's one thing about digital downloads, you don't have to look at it much.
Listen to: In Your Hands, a duet with Willie Nelson.
I met Keith at the LA premiere of Pirates 3, and I mean, what do you say to someone whom you listen to literally every day of your life? For me, it's simple, it's the Stones and Dylan, bar when you have someone over, then it's a bit of Marvin Gaye on top just to be sociable.~ Bill Nighy. The Word, August 2007, p. 61
I wanted to buy the new issue of The Monthly while waiting for the train but didn't have any cash so to meet the minimum to use my card I bought, for the first time, The Word. I had looked at its cover before and for some reason always imagined it to be a) American and b) a more serious Downbeat type thing, as opposed to the studied irreverance of a Mojo or, in particular, Uncut. In fact, it's British and basically exactly the same as Uncut, but not as thick (page number wise.)
Anyway, I just wanted to share that Nighy quote on account of, it being hilariously true and right and all good things.
Posted by Amanda at 3:24 pm
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Recently went on an eMusic splurge. Pearls Before Swine were a 90s psychadelic folk band and One Nation Underground was released in 1967. According to Wikipedia:
They were quickly signed up, and recorded One Nation Underground (1967), featuring songs of mysticism, protest, melancholia, and some controversy in the case of “Miss Morse”, which spelled out an obscenity in code.
The sophisticated 2007 ear may find the psychadelic waffle about crystal swans and whatnot rather quaint but they don't forget about melodies either and it's amusing enough. I can't listen to it for days on end, but a run through now and then is good for a certain mood.
The lead singer Tom Rapp has a very appealing lisp. In addition (also according to Wikipedia):
He once came third in a talent contest in Rochester where a certain Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing was fifth. "The winner was a cute little girl in a red sequined costume who twirled a baton."
MP3: (Oh Dear) Miss Morse -- the one with the covert obscenity!
This is a great cover. "As the albums have gotten worse, the covers have gotten better. Discuss."
Also I love that at his official website you can actually pat the dog. Go on, try it. So cute!
I have put this off and off because I listened to it a few times and did not like it. This depresses me because I love Steve Earle but have not, not one bit, loved his last few albums. I choose denial.
But it's been a few weeks. I'm gonna live blog my next listen and see if it's improved.
Tennessee Blues. This was a pre-release a few months ago. I can't be bothered to go back and find where, but I linked to it and said nice things. And it's quite nice. I am pleased by the "goodbye guitar town" line, such in-references make the fangrrrrl happy. And I like that Steve's happy. Nothing exciting, but a nice start.
Down Here Below. Oh, goody: spoken word. I did like his collection of short stories "Doghouse Roses" so I'm partial to his little vignettes. This is alright I suppose UNTIL 3.25 in when he starts with ... well I don't know what it is, but I don't like it.
Satellite Radio. This is OK, although I was ready for it to be over a minute before it was.
City of Immigrants. Steve used to be a writer of what are called "story songs." Are there any on this album? Not that I object to the sentiment, I wholeheartedly endorse it. But just repeating over and over that New York City is a city of immigrants is ... what? It's not telling us anything we don't know, nor even doing it in an interesting way. And the backup singers actually chant "all of us are immigrants." ! Which, true. But also, meaningless cliche. I rather think this is an awful song.
Sparkle and Shine If your singer-songwriter boyfriend/husband wrote this for your anniversary, you'd be overwhelmed with love and might get a bit weepy at the beauty of the gesture. You still wouldn't want him to actually put it on an album.
Come Home to Me. It's not finished yet and I've already forgotten all about it.
Jericho Road. This starts of sounding a bit like "Telegraph Road" from El Corazon. I wonder if that's deliberate? Bad move if so, because that song was good. I guess this is an attempt at Seeger-ish symbolic folk song thing but it doesn't really grab me.
Oxycontin Blues. Oh, yeah. Hillbilly heroin! Surely Steve can bring this one home. ... It's pretty good but not a classic.
Red is the Color. Well, he has moved to Greenwich Village. So a bit of unremarkable beat poetry is to be expected. Like the mandolin (?), the harp and the howling.
Steve's Hammer (For Pete). Yeah, its alright and the only one I can really imagine singing along to. Pity that Bruce did a whole album of this stuff, much better, not so long ago. D'oh!
Days Aren't Long Enough. Duet with wifey. He pretty much always has a chick duet on his records, most of them pleasant but unremarkable. As is this on. Nice enough.
Way Down in the Hole. Now, I utterly adore The Wire, the show for which this will be the theme song this season. This version doesn't grab me but it might work in context.
Posted by Amanda at 5:01 pm
Picture stolen from my sister's blog.
The new Tom Russell, Wounded Heart of America, which is a collection of ogher folks covering him from over the years plus a few new ones from Tom himself. I got it from the best shop in Sydney Yesterday and Today -- go buy stuff.
Veteran's Day -- Johnny Cash Recorded on "Boom Chicka Boom" in the Mercury interlude between being dumped by Columbia and crossing paths with Rick Rubin, although Veteran's Day was left off the original and included on later editions as a bonus track. True to the album name it has That Sound, but unfortunately with a follow-the-bouncing-ball quality. Nothing wrong with the vocals though, and Cash and Russell are made for each other.
Gallo del Cielo -- Joe Ely Tom's greatest song? The greatest cover of a Tom song anyway. It's on Ely's "Letter to Laredo", but this is a live one from "Live at Antones." A truly exhilirating song.
Acres of Corn -- Iris deMent
The Outcaste -- Dave Van Ronk
These are from The Man from God Knows Where and I swear the amount of time I spent evangelising this album bores even me. Just get it.
Manzanar -- Laurie Lewis Don't know who Laurie Lewis is but a solid version of this song, about the wartime interment of Japanese-Americans. Tom Paxton also does a good version.
St Olav's Gate -- Doug Sahm In my memory from hearing it before I thought this was a much faster rocking sort of version, maybe there's another one? Anyway, that steel guitar makes it nice and woozy, like you really are drunk in Oslo.
Outbound Plane -- Suzy Bogguss. Something of a hit. The chorus has never quite made sense to me, but sining along is irresistable anyway.
Canadian Whiskey -- Ian Tyson and Nanci Griffith. Sentimental song about a crazy drunk woman. A bit slight lyrically, but undeniable beautiful in execution.
Navajo Rug -- Jerry Jeff Walker. Ai yi yi. Tom's famous song about sex in public places. His most covered song? A bit jaunty for me, this version.
The Sky Above, The Mud Below -- Rambling Jack Elliott. Duet with Tom. Excellent! A long western character and story song Tom does better than just about anyone else, ever.
Haley's Comet -- Dave Alvin. I have a very strong aversion to songs, books or TV shows -- and the telly is the worst offender -- which have some pun in their title based on the name of a character. Like, "Grey's Anatomy." They only used that character name so they could have a stupid pun in the titlle. And so I think the conceit here-- it's about the death of Bill Haley ("Haley's comet hit the ground") -- extremely iffy. But it is otherwise a great song, and Alvin's performance on this version is suitably energetic so I like it.
Stealing Electricity -- Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Heh. What can you say? I ragged on Steve's beat poetry in the below review, but if you're going to do performance poetry you want to be Lawrence Ferlinghetti to pull it off.
Walking on the Moon -- Elilza Gilkyson. Eh, never liked this song so much. It's alright (and this is a lovely version) but a bit sugary. Tom can do sentiment as well as crusty cynicism, which is why he's so great.
The Cuban Sandwich -- Barrence Whitfield. I don't have the record this is from, but I've been intrigued by descriptions of it for years (not least because it covers a couple of my favourite songss.) This is also a duet with Tom. Impossibly cool, fun and a bit weird. I want the rest of the album.
There follows a few new Tom songs which are all great, including "Who's Gonna Build your Wall." See, Steve, so there's how you write a political song about immigration:
We've got fundamentalist Muslims,
We've got fundamentalist Jews,
We've got fundamentalist Christians
They'll blow the whole thing up for you.
But as I travel around this big old world
there's one thing I most fear
and that's a white man in a golf shirt
with a cell phone in his ear.
Posted by Amanda at 3:22 pm