Friday, October 12, 2007

Recently #3

A very acceptable new record of honky tonk. The Mootster is joined by ex-Dwight svengali Pete Anderson on guitar and production.

Listen to:
The Man, The Myth.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Recently #2

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.

The Word

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.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Recently #1

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!

The New Steve

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.

Heart of America

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.

Dwight Sings Buck

October 23rd.
"Close Up the Honky Tonks" is on Dwight's MySpace page.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Farewell, Septabulous

OK so September is pretty much over and I am not going to make my one-post-a-day target. But I did OK. I hit a wall when uni deadlines started bearing down.

This essay won't write itself and bob knows I've given it enough opportunity to do so.

Having a semi night off for the rugby league grand final even though I hate both teams.

All I want to say about it is this:

And BOOOOO to the NRL for being a nark about the footage of the 1997 Knights win because otherwise I would be posting that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bettye, Then the Rest

Song of America is a three CD set exploring the byways of the great American songbook originating with none other than Janet Reno. I’ve only heard bits and pieces thus far, as is usual with projects like this some of it works and some of it fails to grab you BUT it has given me my favourite song of the year.

Bettye LaVette covering Bruce’s Streets of Philadelphia. You can hear it here.

I always thought that song never really got its due – oh, sure, it won an Oscar but that’s almost a reason to distrust its quality. Beautiful song and the subject of a couple of good covers. Marah did a nice one too, although I recall disapproving of their lyrics changes.

But none will top Bettye’s. I bet Bruce is delirious with joy over it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Procrastination Shuffle

1.Handle With Care -- Traveling Wilburies
2. Somehow, Someday -- Ryan Adams
3. Promised Land -- Elvis Presley
4. I'm Walking the Dog -- David Ball
5. Bethleridge -- Robbie Fulks
6. Find You At Last -- John Hiatt
7. Cold Irons Bound (Live) -- Bob Dylan
8. There's a Story in Your Voice -- Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams
9. She Knows Why -- Claude King
10. Fraulein O. -- James McMurty
11. Cipó de goabeira -- Silvério Pessoa
12. Rising Sun Blues -- Clarence Ashley and DOc Watson
13. Jesus is My Kind of People -- Etta James
14. Across the Great Divide -- The Band
15. In the Basement -- Etta James
16. The Captain and the Kid -- Elton John
17. Kaolock -- Thio Mbaye
18. Backwater Blues -- Chris Knight
19. Eyes on the Prize -- Bruce Springsteen
20. Blue Side of Lonesome -- George Jones

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Meet Me in Thirty Odd Years

First live performance of Meet Me in the Morning, in Nashville. (with Jack White)

Tonight We Write

Well, I've missed a couple of Septabulous days on account of: essay. We'll make it up on the back end. Trying to avoid doing just YouTube posts but I'm not above it.

Dylan's Theme Time radio show is back tonight/today. Weee!

Lucinda Williams has been doing these series of shows where the first half she plays one of her studio albums song for song ( PDF of World Without Tears show in LA. PDF is irritating, but I suppse this is supposed to be her very own list? With tunings for the guitar nerds.) On various nights she did "World Without Tears", "Essence", "Car Wheels...", "Lucinda Williams" and "Sweet Old World." Then at the end of the show each audience member gets a CD of it, which was whipped up during the second set of the gig. A bit nifty. Niftier still, these will "soon" be available to download from her website. I'm also pleased they have revamped the website, removing the hideous picture that as there before. No Australian dates yet. Sigh.

Here she is in a quick snippet doing "Greenville" with Emmylou Harris recently. Control yourselves, boys.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cheap Sunday

Nowt to say except I added a Lastfm widget to the sidebar, below recent comments. Stickybeak away at what I'm playing on iTunes. It's all jazzed up today because that's what I put on when I'm in the other room writing an essay as I supposedly was.

You will see the new Moot Davis album Already Moved On appearing there in the coming days. It's really very good.

Went to Sydney Uni library today but got waylaid by the book sale in the Great Hall. Of musical note I got "Mister Jelly Roll" by Alan Lomax ($1), "Riding on a Blue Note: Jazz and American Pop" by Gary Giddins ($2) and "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music" ($3) which was published the year I was born. Not that I will ever get around to reading them but at least the Encyclopedia has pretty pictures, as above.

Friday, September 14, 2007


New Bob Dylan album in January ... with Rick Rubin and someone called Jacknife? I thought Bobby/Jack Frost had had his fill of celebrity producers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lost Highway ...

... has some audio up from the forthcoming Mary Gauthier record, Between Daylight and Dark. I'm loving them all.

Stars and Pinstripes

Off topic and originally posted at Sidelined.

The Bronx is Burning is a 2007 eight episode ESPN series (yeah, they make drama too. Who knew?) about the famous 1977 Yankees. Due to the tyranny of distance, my interest in baseball is casual but there's alot I find attractive about the game, and the mythology that surrounds it. By accident of birth I'm pouring over economy rates and not outs rather than RBIs and BB/Ks but I think the pall of being a long suffering Cubs fan would suit me fine. (Hey, give it time and the Newcastle Knights might yet build an equally impressive history of despair.) Like any show it may add something to be intimate with the subject area, but The Bronx is Burning is such good television, the less well-educated like me and even the sports-averse could go with the flow.

Five elements power the story. The first has to be the rhythms of baseball itself, including the obligatory dug out blow ups, the slides and collisions on bases, the tense innings where everything is in slow mo, punctuated by bursts of chaos. If you've seen any baseball film you know them.

Three characters set the pace. Oliver Platt is George Steinbrenner, Yankees' owner, and John Turturro is Billy Martin, Yankees' manager. Both in real life is seems are/were, at any one moment, about fifteen seconds from throwing someone, anyone, out a window. If you just imagine the actors -- all solicitous curves versus all crazy eyes and grinding jaws -- that tells a story in itself and both actors are as you would expect, pretty perfect. Steinbrenner developed a habit of firing and re-hiring Martin over their long association, a history turned to the noble use of selling cruddy beer in this ad. (YouTube)

Into this already rather volcanic mix is thrown the person of Reggie Jackson (Daniel Sunjata, unknown to me before this but more than holds his own. Extremely unfortunately he's a 9/11 conspiracy kook in real life which prevents me from being too enthused about him but he is, I begrudgingly admit, good in this.) The swaggering and mercurial hero brought in by Steinbrenner to put "meat in the seats", which he does but with many headlines and bruised egos along the way.

Then there is New York City itself, which you could argue is always the main character of any film, TV show, book or song set there. The ball game is the majority of the story, with cameos from the other parts of a city fraying at the edges economically and socially: the Son of Sam murders, issues like frequent power outages and the mayoral race. The police investigation and media treatment of the Son of Sam is the main b-storyline, and the dramatised scenes are woven powerfully with evocative archival footage. Although I don't like to use the word "entertaining" to describe things about David Berkowitz, it has to be said the contemporary vox pops on the streets of NYC are fascinating.

Every half-decent sports film ever made is fully about the sport but also about much more. The Bronx is Burning satisfies on all levels and, if you can find a copy in Australia, comes heartily recommended. And it's based on a book, which I really must seek out.

Not alot on it from YouTube, except this "sales Tape" promo thing:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Things I Don't Get #5467798


Why do people download ringtones when you can just load your own MP3s into your phone?

Mine is "Like A Rolling Stone" and I didn't pay no stinking $5.95 or whatever for it.

Oh OK I guess what you might be paying for is the right -- although I don't see why you should need extra permission, any more than to play it on your car stereo with the windows down -- to use it as your ringtone but since the market of the ringtones is the same market that does the most illegal downloading I still don't get it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ex Tempore - Johnny Irion

An intensely lovely collection of early Neil Young meets early Elton John with a cosmic American sheen. The sort of music you would hear on the radio for the first time but be sure you'd been listening to that song all your life.

Some tracks on his MySpace page -- particularly check out Eyes LIke a Levee and Roman Candle.

Monday, September 10, 2007

YouTube Sunday on Monday: Scialfa Family Edition.

Nothing groundbreaking with the new Bruce single but just hearing the E Street sound is enough for some of us. Go, Clarence! I can't imagine Bruce really thinks in terms of singles anymore, they chuck out this middling rocker for the pack and keep the best for the album. Can't remember what the "leaked" single for Devils and Dust was but it was the same for that. Wait for the album. October 2.

E St's red headed woman's new record is also getting good reviews.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

File Under: Not As Awful As You Totally Expect

On Upfront and Down Low, below, Teddy Thompson does a heart-rending version of Dolly Parton's "My Blue Tears."

For the only one that I have ever loved has gone away
An' I'm in no mood for the sunshine today

Know who else has recorded this track?

Goldie Hawn, that's who.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: APEC Edition #2

Sharon Jones, & the Dap Kings.

MP3: This Land is Your Land, Sharon Jones &the Dap Kings.

Soul/funk outfit discovered by me only recently and this song is about perfect for the day. "This Land is Your Land", yes that one, from the recent album Naturally. Woody Guthrie meets Detroit, and while that might sound iffy to some I can say No! It really works. Very hot, soulful, funky (they're a soul/funk outfit, you see), irresistable horn section.

From a profile of Daptone Records:

Jones is Daptone’s starpower at the moment, with a new album — 100 Days, 100 Nights — ready to drop to its knees and shout please please please, capping a long gestation period that has seen her growing in assuredness and maturity. Not that she came to Daptone wet behind the ears. Singing since the '70s, when the prospects for classic funk seemed on the far side of possibility, Desco found her working as a prison guard. I was captivated after seeing her for the first time, when Andrew “8 Track” Burns took me to the Mercury Lounge for a Daptone revue. 2002’s Dap Dippin’, her debut album release, contains some of the above singles, such as “What Have You Done for Me Lately” and “Got a Thing on My Mind,” and also allows her to stretch out: a steamy track like “Make It Good For You” melts buttahhhhh….

Thursday, September 06, 2007

APEC MP3 Edition

Yes, I am posting today, although I am loathe to push Teddy down the page because SERIOUSLY! I LOVE IT. Actually, I already know what I'm doing for tomorrow. Suck on that.

Picked up last month's Uncut today. Has an A-Z of Dylan People. I think I've said before somewhere here -- who can keep track -- I recently discovered Bob Neuwirth's latter career as a singer-songwriter, a very nice Guy/Townes/InsertTexasIdentityHere line. And not just that kinda annoying Dylan hanger-on ...

So here's some Bob Neuwirth. From the album 99 Monkeys. It was going to be more APEC-y, he has a song on there called "Ancient Questions (War & Peace)" which isn't nearly as awful as it sounds. But, meh. I feel like these instead.

MP3s: Biding Her Time and Biggest Bordertown.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Teddy Thompson: Upfront & Down Low

Prior to Monday at around 3pm I had been listening almost non-stop to the Dylan, Norwegian stuff and Begonias of previous Septabulous* posts. Since then, post-visit to Egg Records in Newtown, it has been All About Teddy. All about Teddy, and his new long player Upfront & Down Low.

OMG YOU GUYS! This is brilliant. The SMH review is good for background, saving me the bother. Good boy, MSM! You're not totally redundant yet, bless.

So. Teddy. I think I saw him at the Leonard Cohen thingo at the Opera House that one time. Being only a casual-though-academically-appreciative Richard Thompson person he didn't set off many lights. This has changed. We are lit up like a Christmas tree now, we are.

The way the Brits mail ordered the blues, took it apart and sent it back to the states is well known. The tradition of them doing it to country is much, much smaller of course. Much more obscure, in "side projects" and generally dribs and drabs over the decades rather than a Generation Defining Movement. But there's still probably a BBC audio documentary in it. I will listen to the most derivative and unoriginal country music and love it because ... the original is so good, why wouldn't I want to hear a copy? Low rent romance, second rate pastiche. It works.

However. Bringing something new to a familiar tradition can thrill. Upfront & Down Low is a totally gorgeous album of only the absolute richest of countrypolitan sounds, but with subtle and alluring touches. The strings are Nashville but sometimes very much not, those are very English violins. Just a hint, here and there. Lyle Lovett is a name mentioned in many reviews but surely we must also nod to Nick Lowe.

The Teddy tenor sells it all with heart rending sorrow and the band is perfect (including Marc Ribot and Thompson pere). Iris DeMent, Tift Merrit and Jenni Muldaur on harmonies. Some of the songs are the most familiar in the canon, like "She Thinks I Still Care" -- hard to do badly and of course he doesn't. The "secret track" is for mine the killer: "Don't Ask Me to Be Friends." Recorded by the Everlys and Cliff Richard in the 60s. and apparently no one else. Having sought out all extant versions on iTunes I can tell you Teddy's is the definitive and lifts it from poppy B side to First XI. Seriously, I've still got the stitches where it ripped out my heart and bounced it off the walls.


No? Allow me to continue then. The other killer. "Down Low" is the only Thompson original and it perhaps has a vibe which stands out it its modern type of brooding fatalism but fits in with in the classic type of brooding fatalism which runs through country. Whipping out the Bob Luman novelty "Let's Think About Living" feels like a friendly in-joke. Chet Flippo says "the song rejects" Teddy's version of "(All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers" but, that's in the ear of the beholder and for mine, that song not only copes but positively prospers in this arrangement. It isn't a "British drawing room arrangement" actually, but someone needs to tell him your average British drawing room holds more perverted secrets, thwarted desires and unspoken despair than a David Lynch box set.

Last year Van Morrison released a country album. I didn't like it much, although a lot did. This is was hoping for, all that and more.

I'm also pleased this has fallen upon us since I'll be out of the country from early November and so any Best Of '07 will have to be an early one. Like, in October. Looking back, I won't be lacking for a top ten.

* Septabulous is the official name of my campaign to post once a day this month.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Norway or the Highway

Tom Russell's The Man from God Knows Where is a must have for all and it features a couple of Norwegian singers, Sondre Bratland and Kari Bremnes. Thanks to the miracle of eMusic, I recently started exploring their original Norwegian catalogues. I no speakee the Norskee and the lyrics are usually the main focus for me but I find I like their voices, delivery and the music so much I can’t stop listening.

Norwegian folk is not a million miles removed from the rhythms of, say, Celtic (memo: look that up) so it’s familiar enough to be immediately accessible and of course they just love their American country. Every roots/blues/country/folk mailing list I’ve ever been on has a high percentage of Scandinavians who have an encyclopedic knowledge of every B side and backing band line up change, as well as the most awesome collection of bootlegs and rarities. Want to find that only known copy of a 1983 college radio Steve Forbert interview? Ask a Swede.

Kirkelig Kulturverksted (translates as "Christian Arts Workshop" apparently,) the label The Man From ... is on, turned up on eMusic recently which allowed me to go to town. First I checked out Bratland and Bremnes since those were the names I knew. And then a whole heap of other albums were added including the " Norsk" series. Norwegian tributes to Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

Hank Williams Norsk
(at eMusic. at KKV. ) features Sondre Bratland, Vibeke Saugestad, Jonas Fjeld and Gunn Heidi Larsen and is currently my favourite, although there is much goodness on the others. On Hank, they stick pretty close to traditional sounds -- and when the lyrics are in a foreign language, you can really hear the simple beauty in familiar melodies. Sondre Bratland's "Eg Er Einsam Med Min Gråt" (I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry) in particular lingers. I don't know what "Styla Lada" means but its definitely the tune of "Jambalaya" and Gunn Heidi Larsen's icy crisp voice could cut glass. The spoken word track "Folk Med Knuste Blikk" (Men with Broken Hearts, I believe) loses a bit through the language barrier but, hey, that's my fault not theirs.

It's legally digitally downloadable from the above sources, although through the KKV its DRM'd and locked to Windows Media (which leaves out me on a Mac). If you object to downloading (FXH!), good luck finding a hard copy.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Endings and Beginnings

Well Bob has been and gone.

Your puny hu-man language has no words.

MP3: Nettie Moore, Sydney, 15th August.

These were my first live shows since '01 (behind the iron curtain of no-one-good-ever-tours-russia-ness in '03) but they still open and close with two extraordinary moments. Sure, the music in between is ineffable but I go to be In The Presence and the intro and the band farewells are where you find you get those hilarious Bob moments.

The introduction which was adopted a while ago and is taken pretty much verbatim from some newspaper review. Can't remember the name of the journo now, but he wrote a slightly mortified response after it started being used.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,Please welcome the poet laureate of rock and roll,
The voice of the promise of the ‘60s counter culture,
The guy who forced folk into bed with rock,
Who donned makeup in the ‘70s, and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse,
Who emerged to find Jesus,
Who was written off as a has-been by the end of the ‘80s
And who suddenly shifted gears,
Releasing some of the strongest music in his career beginning in the late ‘90s,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Columbia recording artist,
Bob Dylan”

A brain numbing cut and paste job, a collection of cliches hypnotic in their blandness and hilarious when Bob co-opts them to open the show. Heh @ Bob.

Listen: Dylan Intro. (starts about 30 secs in)

And then the line up at the end -- as shown in picture above, taken by my mate Raymond. They just .... stand there, staring at you. A new addition (for me) was the toreador arm Bob sports. Some described it as a royal wave. People whinge that there's no audience interaction. The band comes to the front of stage and just ... stares at you. That's too much audience interaction baby. It does weird things to you.

Something More

Two years late on this one but I've just discovered one of the best albums
of 2005: Begonias by Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell. Cary is the girl
singer from Whiskeytown but Thad is totally new for me. Modern traditional country duets which are a mix of the 70s Gram/Emmylou, an older Nashville tradition plus your modern sensibility. Thad sounds remarkably like Gram on one song ("Party Time"), and a dead ringer for Ryan Adams on another but you never the impression of pale imitation. The pleading quality in Cary's voice does wonders on an unrequited lurve heartbreaker like "Something Less":

Ride to places where I shouldn't
Just so you'd see me passing by
I know you're not there in the window
I guess it never hurts to try

Sniff. Not that I've ever done that. Just, sniff. "Coversations About A Friend (Who's In Love With Katie)" breaks the mould in being more than 7 minute long, but it sustains it and I always smile at this bit:

I heard her family didn't like him
Well its only chance they ever met
Her daddy said he talked like Nixon
Now there's a line I can't forget.

I love it all.

My faves aren't on YouTube but Please Break My Heart and Second Option (the very Ryan-y one) are not too shabby for a taste.

The Guru

Long NYT magazine article (may have to sign in) on flakey genius Rick Rubin.

And just to remind you not everything he touches turns to gold : Charmed Life, Mick Jagger. Listen if you dare! Funny how no includes "Wandering Spirit" when they're reeling off all Rubin's masterpieces. Heh.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Well Bob is in Sydney tomorrow and Thursday night and this is the first I've said about it, which shows how the blogging mojo has gone. Comment here on anything Bob if you wish and I might update later.

If you're in Sydney come to the Crystal Palace for pre-gig drinkies.

Update Wed: So I was told Denny Freeman, Bob's guitarist, was going to be sitting in with Cayton Doley's Organ Donors at the Macquarie Hotel in the city last night so I took myself along. The band itself is great and on every Tuesday I believe, and seeing Freeman up close (the first time for me at any distance) was very cool. They played jammy blues, funk, a bit of the old proggy type jazz, rocked it up. Nice! I knew what he looked like but even if I didn't, he was The One in the room who looked like he should be in Dylan's band.

I learnt alot about the low light settings on my new camera and how not to use them but not sure I have any decent pics really. Trying to get up to speed on the thing.

Extremely pedestrian selection of Bob cover songs in the Herald. I refuse to play this game anyway, as it buys into the whole "he writes good songs but can't sing" heresy HOWEVER if it leaves our Emmylou's "Every Grain of Sand" -- in the bin! The best covers album by far is Tim O'Brien's Red on Blonde (a bit on YouTube.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kevin Rudd's Favourite Music as Listed on His Facebook Profile

(which you cannot see unless you are his friend. Like me, suckas!)

Classical, especially Vivaldi. Folk, especially Simon and Garfunkel (Feeling Groovy), John Williamson, and Redgum. I enjoy a selection of jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald. Some John Denver during car trips.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Listening To ...

Elizabeth Cook "Sometimes it Takes Balls to Be a Woman"

This is the attention getter from her album Balls, but it is all great stuff. Produced by Rodney Crowell.

Elvis "If You Talk in Your Sleep"

From below collection. I actually wanted to find the Little Milton version, but there is precious little of him on YouTube. Get your act together, you people providing free stuff for my convenience!

MP3: Ronny Elliott "Do Angels Ever Dream They're Falling" from the album Valentine Roadkill. I really like this song and sought it out again this week on reading Robert Forster's review of a new Phil Spector bio in The Monthly. Scroll down to Arts and Letters for preview. The song is about Crazy Phil and his recent, er, troubles.

Buy some Ronny Elliott! No one ever looks at this blog over the weekend anyway, so I'll take it down Monday and hardly any copyright infringement will have happened.

Note, it's hosted on the Sydney Dylan Society webpage but is nothing to do with them, I just have a lot of free space there and found a great tutorial for adding an MP3 player to a RapidWeaver site, which that is. If you have a Mac and are a newbie and are really lazy like me, you can't go past RapidWeaver for website a-building.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

In Which I Make Amends ...

... for not blogging by telling you that you can buy this slice of heaven-- Elvis Presley, Walk a Mile in My Shoes: The Essential 70s Masters -- for $16.99 (sixteen dollars ninety nine cents AUD) from iTunes. Five discs. 120 (one hundred and twenty) songs.

For whatever reason they have it all bundled as one album. Ta, Steve. Seen it in the hard copy shops for $90 and its USD71 on Amazon. Of course you don't get the Dave Marsh liner notes and whatnot but, c'mon, seventeen bucks!! The music is sublime.

The package concentrates on a core of 120 songs--the A- and B-sides of every single Presley recorded in the '70s, 46 other studio tracks (including 13 previously unreleased performances), and 27 live tracks (including another 13 unreleased tracks)--that feature a still-magnificent singer collaborating with one of the funkiest bands of its time.

The Flop Eared Mule verdict: fracking grouse to the power of infinity.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


In which I return to blogging (music blogging, anyway) , just to bitch.

Ryan Adams is playing the Enmore on August 23rd, according to the Terrorgraph. A Thursday. What is it with these mid week gigs? Rawk stars and music promoters may not have real jobs, but some of us do. Some of us are already taking time off work/study for Dylan the week before and cannot take any more. Boo.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Queen from the Stone Age

Gotta run but if I don't do it now I'll never do it. Saw Wanda Jackson last night. 70 years old and still a voice that can strip paint -- in a good way.

I believed she wore the same pink terry towelling fringey poncho as here:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Sydney and Melb shows announced for Bob.

For anyone that may have doubted it, Bob Dylan has just confirmed he well and truly is “the master of modern times”.

Last week fans proved Bob Dylan’s growing resurgence following the success of his latest number 1 album, Modern Times, with Sydney and Melbourne shows for his August tour selling out in a matter of hours. Second shows for both cities are now confirmed.

Dylan will play a second show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Thursday 16th August and return for an encore performance at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Sunday 19th August.

Deserted Blog > Blog About the Desert

Since I'm doing such a stirling job of updating this blog, I thought I'd start another. I'm off to Egypt for eight weeks in November and Sherd Nerd is for travel musings and stuff Egyptological. I'll also be hosting Four Stone Hearth, an archaeology/anthropology blog carnival.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Both Kinds of Music: Honky and Tonk

But enough about me, let's talk about what I'm listening to.

Bill Kirchen Hammer of the Honky Tonk Gods

Best album name of the year and one of the most satisfying listening experiences too. Very varied in styles and a hot sound from a crack backing group which includes Nick Lowe. The title song is a rollicking hymn to the Fender and I've been quietly belting out the inspirational refrain for weeks.

It was born at the junction
Of form and function ....
It's the hammer of the honky tonk gods ...


The first thing most profiles will mention about Kirchen is the guitar hero status, but he has a lovely voice for country and soul, see the covers of Devil in a Blue Dress, Skid Row in My Mind and If It's Really Got to Be This Way.

Apart from the title track, my top numbers are the philosophical folky ache of Rocks into Sand and instant rockabilly classic Get a Little Goner.

David Ball Heartaches by the Number

I'm a bit hazy on David Ball's career trajectory. There were some songs, and a Grammy nomination and then not much. Not that I'm a dedicated follower of the US charts so maybe he's been ripping up the joint all these years.

In any event this is my kind of album, on account of: you can never have too many versions of Please Help Me I'm Falling. I don't think there's a song here much over three minutes but it is, to quote a phrase, chock full o' country goodness and you won't leave unsatisfied. I had a dim memory of hearing Hag or someone sing Please Feed the Jukebox until I found out it is the only new Ball-penned song on the album. So maybe not, but it slips in seamlessly next to the classics.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

File Under: Not As Bad As It Could Have Been

Me in The Glebe, which goes with the story linked below. Sorry for bodgy scan, its a big page and a small scanner and yeah its a bad crop but its late. It is not true what it says about us "flocking to the Abercrombie" on Saturday. Abercrombie is where we have (had, perhaps. We might be moving.) the monthly get togethers. Saturday, some of us will be up the road at the UTS/2SER monstrosity for the radio show. You can go to the Abercrombie if you like but ... we won't be there.

Cozzy, note: your blanket is famous!


50 Million Beers

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bob, For Real

Sydney Dylan page updated with Bob dates for the just announced Aust tour. Sydney is 15th August (YAY) at the Entertainment Centre (BOO). The rest are on the calendar for August.

That's what I'll be doing in August, you can read about what I'll be doing in November/Dec here. At least then I will have an excuse not to blog.

UPDATE: A couple of us have been "profiled" in the local press to publicise the Dylan radio show (see Sydney Dylan page for details). Here's Bill in the Parramatta Advertiser and --hah!-- me in the Inner West Weekly. There's supposed to be an --ugh-- photo to go with it, in the hard copy I guess. News Ltd bandwith is too precious to waste on such trifles.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Real Bob ... #2

The Sydney Dylan Society (Third Monday of the Month! Abercrombie Hotel, Broadway! All Welcome!) now has a website. If you have any problem using the navagation bar across the top of the photo, please let me know but I think they are fixed. Cross fingers.

I was thinking about pictures for it, and didn't want to just rip off a photo in breach of copyright yadda yadda. So I looked into various options, until I saw a link to Elliott Landy's page from Expecting Rain. You may not know the name but you'll probably know the photos, he took the one that is the cover of Nashville Skyline for a start. And Van Morrison's Moondance. The Band's self titled album. And on. He spent time with Bob in Woodstock and the domestic pictures of him and family are really very touching. The Guardian has a good slideshow and you can see them at Landy's website too. So I took a punt and emailed about getting permission to use one of his photos and ... literally two minutes later he replied personally saying yes. Very generous of him and a bit of a thrill for me.

A Real Bob and a Fake

But a really good fake. The Bob Dylan Revue is one of those tribute shows that does the rounds. I went the first time with a heavy heart but, hey!! They were really good and I had a great time. They've got some new dates of gigs 'round Sydney.

19 May - Helensburg Workers Club
24 May - The Bridge Hotel
25 May - The Pine Inn Hotel
27 May - The Brass Monkey

Demos and oher stuff at the website. And they have a blog. Check them out.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is It True, or Did You Read it in the Telegraph?

"Journeyman???? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. "

This is good news though from the Daily Tele music liftout today. Empasis mine. Dates, please!!

"Dylan fans will be pleased to know the journeyman will definately be in Australia to scare us later this year."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Simon Bruce's only show in Sydney before heading back to Nashville and Little Big Horn's country rock comes highly recommended too.

CDs, Upcoming

Cribbed shamelessly from PopMatters:


Ike Reilly Assassination—We Belong to the Staggering Evening: Verbose, but nonetheless rocking, Reilly’s music offers a Dylanesque mix of spunk and doggerel.

FEM: Hmmmmspunkanddoggerelhmmmmm. Never heard of him/her/them but it's "Dylanesque" so they say.

May 15

The Avett Brothers—Emotionalism: A higher-profile work from the sweet-voiced, harmonizing, folk-rock brethren.

Maria Muldaur—Naughty, Bawdy & Blue: The roots singer’s third salute to the blues women of the `20s, `30s and `40s. Think Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace and the like.

Rufus Wainwright—Release the Stars: A more accessible, if no less ornate, work from the fanciful artiste.

Wilco—Sky Blue Sky: The prettiest album in eons from these arty country rockers.

MAY 29

Richard Thompson—Sweet Warrior: Yet more songs from the quick-witted, and oft-recorded, folk-rock mainstay.


Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band—Live in Dublin: Ireland’s literary capital seems the perfect place to stage these songs of historic heft.

Various Artists—Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash: A salute to the country icon featuring artists including step-daughter Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn.

Various Artists—We All Love Ella: A toast to jazz legend Fitzgerald. With contributions from Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Queen Latifah, Etta James, k.d lang, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Krall and more.


John Doe—A Year in the Wilderness: The ex-leader of X with a solo work that features a gaggle of great female guests, from Aimee Mann to Jill Sobule to Kathleen Edwards.


Bryan Ferry—Dylanesque: A collection of Dylan covers (!) from the king of sorrowful suave.

WEIRD: Hasn't this been out for ... six weeks or so? I bought it in Newtown ages ago.

The White Stripes—Icky Thump: Garage rock at its wildest—and most emotionally rich.


Ryan Adams—Easy Tiger: Alt-country’s most prolific star continues to bulk up the discography with this.

Steve Forbert—Strange Names & New Sensations: New music from one of our most underrated singer-songwriters.

Nick Lowe—At My Age: The British icon follows 2001’s finest album (The Convincer) with nine original songs, plus some covers from country’s greatest scribes.

Kelly Willis—Translated From Love: One of alt-country’s most underappreciated singers, has an album produced by a canny songwriter in his own right: Chuck Prophet.


Kim Richey—Chinese Boxes: The first album in five years by one of the smartest alt-country songwriters around.


Raul Malo—After Hours: The singer from the Mavericks covers country staples.

AUG. 14

Linda Thompson—Versatile Heart: It took the ex-wife of Richard Thompson over 20 years to put out her first solo album, the wonderful Fashionably Late. Thank the Lord she only took about two years to put out this followup. Featuring guest appearances from the younger generation of folk-rockers, like Eliza Carthy, Rufus Wainwright and her equally talented son, Teddy.

AUG. 21

The New Pornographers—Challengers: The latest from the great Canadian supergroup, featuring the power-lunged Neko Case on three tracks sure to please

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday YouTube

Kinky Friedman -- Sold American (with cameo by Jimmie Dale Gilmore)


As many of you would know, Club Troppo's bi-weekly Missing Link feature rounds up events in the Australian blogosphere. I contributed the Yartz section this week. There's alot of fascinating stuff out there, when you actually go looking.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tennessee Blues

Thanks to Chris for alerting me that a brand new Steve Earle song has been posted at the Exit 0 Yahoo! Group (in "Files.") You can also hear it a few minutes into this radio interview, his voice is a bit scratchy but it's nice and the interview is very good.

The song is called Tennessee Blues "at this point" (although, elsewhere its "Goodbye Guitar Town"), it's a classic Steve solo acoustic track in its sound but I agree with Chris its "good, not a classic." BUT it's still good. It's about relocating to NYC and not fitting in with the Nashville establishment -- ha! That seems rather a superfluous rebellion for Steve Earle in the year 2007. Keep sticking it to the man, Stevie. Heh.

The new album is due out September and will be a "folkie" although its produced by one half of the Dust Brothers and Steve admits to having "tested positive for Pro Tools." This direction pleases me no end, underwhelmed as I have been with his last couple.

If you listen to the radio interview, be sure to stick around for the Townes medley.

The picture is a genuine Steve Earle pick I scored at his Metro gig a few years back.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Livin, Lovin, Louvin

There is a bit of chat in the comments to the post below about Wilco. I'm a Team Farrar partisan but Jeff Tweedy does a very good job on his duet on the new Charlie Louvin album. They do Great Atomic Power, the Louvin Bros classic, and deeply weird, gospel. The rest of the album is very pleasing too, old Charlie sounds on death's door ... but not in a bad way. His couple of duets with George Jones in particular and his tribute to brother Ira are pretty special for the country nerd. But it's all good, traditional old timey country and the parade of hip young thangs who join him (though few I think ever physically in a studio with him) carry their end.

Not much modern Louvin multimedia but here's some twang from The Wilburn Brothers Show in the 60s on YouTube. I don't know anything about Diane McCall but she really knows how to work that eye shadow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Like Both Kinds of Music: Honky and Tonk

Science Blogs, which I love, has a new meme which is at once at the heart of Flop Eared Mule's existence -- music -- but also her greatest anathema -- awkward personal revelation! It started with a post on some research which is trying to say some useful things about musical preferences and personality (link to a PDF of the article in the journal Psychological Science.) This has lead to much naming of ten favourite songs and psychoanalysing thereof.

Of course the proposition has alot of anecdotal weight: the primeval urge to hand out mix tapes/CDs, the read, write and comment on music blogs, "what music do you like" as a perennial ice breaker, the way I sneakily survey a person's CD and book collection immediately on entering their house and make snap judgements thereon.

So, here are my top ten. With as little premeditation as possible. Off the top of my head. And with the usual caveats about how it will change tomorrow and invoking Bob's Law (only having one song by one artist represented otherwise it would be 10 Dylan songs).

If You See Her, Say Hello, Bob Dylan
She Ain't Going Nowhere, Guy Clark
You Were Never Mine, Delbert McClinton
Waitin' Round to Die, Townes Van Zandt
Goodbye, Steve Earle
Big River, Johnny Cash
Sunday Morning Coming Down, Kris Kristofferson
Sorry You Asked?, Dwight Yoakam
Lines Around Your Eyes, Lucinda Williams
Paradise, Bruce Springsteen
Dance Me to the End of Love, Leonard Cohen

OK, that's 11 but it's done now and I can't choose which to remove.

First off, I notice that it is all incredibly white although that doesn't actually reflect my overall listening habits at all. Thinking about it, while there is not much better than Muddy doing "Soon Forgotten" at Newport I tend to listen to blues in blocks of albums and less as individual songs I seek out. My favourite albums would have to include, say, The Chambers Brothers "Live", and surely a Solomon Burke and at least one Sonny Terry/Brownie McGee. Muddy's Folk Singer. Or Willie's Blues. This is ... odd. ?

Also, the list leans very heavily to the maudlin, indeed downright tragic in some cases. I concede this is probably an accurate reflection of my tastes. The Dwight is uptempo and tongue in cheek (with mariachi horns!) but the rest is pretty ballady/angsty. I do love a good don't-think-let-rip singalong, but again few jump to mind for a list like this. And noticably light on actual rock music, although some loudish Springsteen or the Stones or something is also representative of ... me.

And of course there is only one chick. Female artists are certainly in the minority on my roster, but surely not this extreme.

And there is no Randy Newman which is just plain wrong.

I wonder what song would indicate: "cannot just make a list of ten songs"?

UPDATE 14/3: I've added YouTube links to those that exist. Fat Steve is the best Steve. Discuss. And Emmy too. The Kris is from the Johnny Cash memorial. *Sniff* Another Bruce song which could well be The One is his full band live version of "Youngstown" from The Ghost of Tom Joad, where it's done al la folkie. That version is great too but the E Street rock treatment is so intense. Here is a random live version from YouTube, it is officially available on the Live in NYC CD and DVD. And also the solo acoustic arrangement to complete the set. Neat segue to ... since I left Randy off the list, My Life is Good.
Heh. And my real favourite Randy song set to a montage from Days of Our Lives.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hazmat Modine

I can't really improve on the All Music description:

Hazmat Modine tap into the deepest veins of raw, unpolluted prewar blues and ancient jazz, then whip them up in a blender, tossing in strains of Caribbean calypso and ska, Eastern European klezmer and Balkan brass, Middle Eastern mystery, and more than a few unidentifiable elements that just somehow fit. The result is music that sounds at once ageless and primeval, authentically indigenous and inexplicably otherworldly, familiar and unlike anything else.

Yesterday Morning:

The album Bahamut turned up on a few best of lists last year so I took a flyer and got it off eMusic. Been listening constantly all week. I like that despite all these disparate elements -- Tuvan throat singing included -- it has such a clean, focused sound built around traditional blues.

For genuine freak out, see the Lost Fox Train, a harp solo from the album. Yikes.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Stolen Meltdown

In lieu of other inspiration I'm stealing this "Friday Meltdown" idea from Timmy at Surfdom whose made quite the tradition of it.

Watching: Watching some classic New York Dolls video at YouTube, I'd love to see them later this month but may not be poss. Anyway. I've blogged about lead singer David Johansen's latter day blues reinvention with The Harry Smiths before (in fact, it was, like, my second evah post or something.) Here he is on Smokestack Lightning with Hubert Sumlin.

Oh and some German rap about football, just cuz:

Reading: "Das Attentant Auf Amenemhet I. Und Die Erste Agyptische Koregenshaft" von Karl Jansen-Wilkeln. German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German by April Wilson and Sinuhe, The Bible and the Patriarchs by Miroslav Barta.

Before all this uni work fell on me in the last few weeks the last thing I read was one of my new very favourite books, Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets by David Simon. The inspiration for the TV show Homicide:Life on the Streets, although the pure Simon-ian vision is best expressed in the shows he himself produced, the extraordinary The Wire and The Corner. Simon was a Baltimore Sun crime reporter who spent a year (I guess the term we would use now is "imbedded") with the Baltimore PD homicide squad. This is their story. Wow. Just wow.

Listening to: I bought the new album of Dylan covers by Bryan Ferry, Dylanesque. It's really rather OK although I wish he'd been a bit more adventurous with the song choices. And the late 2006 Raven Records release (hello Raven? Get a freakin' website already) of a smoking 1979 Bobby Bare live gig, Down and Dirty ... Plus.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lazy Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday Blogging

Away for the weekend tomorrow so this is all I got.

Random iTunes 20.

Done Somebody Wrong The Allman Bros Band
Highway 17 Rodney Crowell
It's All in the Game Tom T Hall
Shine Hallejulah Shine Bill Monroe
New York Times Cat Stevens (but I couldn't listen all the way through. Ugh.)
Boulder to Birmingham Emmylou Harris
Norwegian Wood Tim O'Brien
Ways of a Woman in Love Charlie Rich
Gotta Get it Worked On Delbert McClinton
Take Me Away Hayes Carll
A Boy Named Sue Johnny Cash
Streets of London Tony Rice
A Widow's Toast Neko Case
If I Can't Have You Etta James
Red River Sonny Terry with Woody Guthrie/Cisco Houston/Alec Seward
Little Sadie Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson
Just a Little Talk with Jesus The Stanley Brothers
Unfaithful Servant The Band
Good News Blues Todd Snider
Wide Open Road Johnny Cash

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Stunning Plan

A few weeks ago my sister -- newly relocated to Route 66 at Flagstaff, Arizona -- emailed about maybe going to see "some bluegrass guy." Meh, you know, if nothing else is on. Some chump the name of Ralph Stanley, never heard of the guy.

Anyone else I would have blogged that puppy and made delicious fun but as The Boss sang (sort of) "you turn your back on your sister, you ain't no friend of mine." So I confined my mockery to a few private emails and politely suggested it would be most edifying for her and husband if they were to attend.

She has.

I kid, because I love.

But you know what was also funny? Reading Tim McGraw's message boards at when Dr Ralph beat him out for "Best Male Country Vocal" at the 2001 Grammys. Hee hee.

See also: Bob Dylan Ralph Stanley.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I was very shocked yesterday to read at Honky Tonk Highway of the sudden death of Les Scott. He'd been a fixture on the scene ever since I have been going to gigs here, and for along time before that, the heart of a lot of bands on bass, guitar and harmony.

Tamworth Rage Page has a moving tribute page, including details of a memporial event at the Cooks River Club on the 25th, although all the gigs this weekend I'm sure will be for him. Vale Les.

Monday, February 12, 2007

West 2

I moped about the new Lucinda Williams album West at Hickory Wind. You can read it here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Category Error

This David Hadju article republished in The Oz earlier this week stirs something I've thought for a while. We need a new definition of rock music and to stop being so hung up on the meaning established fifty plus years ago.

The Rolling Stones ply a nostalgia for the 1960s and '70s, as do various Motown acts that are on perpetual tour in the arts-centre circuit. For musicians disinclined to work in self-tribute bands, however, it is not easy to rock and age. Rock, at its crude best, is a music of disgrace, anathema to ageing (or doing anything else) gracefully.

It's the music of youthful rebllion because in the 1950s and 1960s its practioners were youthful rebels, or carefully marketed that way at least. The definition arose out of the circumstances of its practice and its place in the popular culture, right nor 1967 wrong for 2007. Why are we obliged to accept this (in popular culture terms) archaic definition and judge "aging acts" by it, as if everything in the world changes except the definition of appropriate people to play rock music.

High Noon for Frankie

This is probably the defining album of my childhood. Maybe it and Blood on the Tracks are the only albums I can say I know all the words to every song. (Born in the USA maybe too. OK and Cash's Bitter Tears and Emmylou Wrecking Ball probably now I think about it. You get the picture though, its an exclusive list.) "Rawhide" of course is the name recognition song but the western genre doesn't get much better than "Wanted Man":

She had spangles on her red dress
She had laughter in her voice
When he tried to put his hands on her
My heart left me no choice
But was she really worth it?
Well, I guess I'll never know
She'll be drinking someone else's rye
When I'm six feet below

You can hear his Italian crooning roots in the smooth delivery but he totally works that gunfighter's snarl and you actually get thirsty listening to the anguished clippety clop of "Cool Water."

Which is best? A wanderin' fool or a heart at rest? I never have found out. Vale, Frankie.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Art Imitating Life Imitating Art ...

This story did the rounds last week,

A fugitive who apparently fled to Tennessee to see his ailing mother was being sought yesterday in Florida in the theft of a tour bus owned by country singer Crystal Gayle.

A man believed to be Christopher Daniel Gay, who is being sought on felony theft and escape charges, was seen Thursday with the bus at a racetrack in Lakeland, Fla., telling the manager he was there to pick up NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.

Convict. Dying mother. Country star (in her own right and sister of Loretta Lynn). NASCAR. Wanted in numerous states. Inevitably everyone said, "this should be a country song!"

Well, now it is. Master bluegrasser Tim O'Brien does a very fine job on short notice, to the tune of Pretty Boy Floyd. (link direct to MP3) I especially like the bit about the colour of his momma's eyes.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

EC was here

Eric Clapton and band
Sydney Entertainment Centre
January 30th 2007

Guest post by Christopher Sheil

He opened with "Tell the Truth", and poorly. But about half-way through the opener the players all found their slots, and in the end it was a triumph. There was "Key to the Highway" and a song I didn't recognise, which were OK, plus "Why Has Love Got to be So Sad?" which is a favourite. Then he went into "Little Wing", which was magnificent, and for mine the highlight of the night. EC went for it, with subtle and not so subtle Jimi embellishments, and he flew, and the number was nailed, dead into the ground.

After that, I loved the acoustic set in the centre. "Running On Faith" was surprisingly successful, and nothing was bad. Coming out of the middle section, "Motherless Children" delivered real freight - Clapton's "Rollin' & Tumblin'". "Further On Up the Road" was forgettably familiar, and felt like intermission.

By this time, I was waiting for "Layla" because Derek Trucks is a big deal, and could be Duane Allman II, and knows how to lift the roof, and I was getting edgy with anticipation. They started it well, doing the famous anthem that is that riff justice, but alas couldn't deliver the middle for mine, which was of course what I was waiting for. They just seemed to lose their way fleetingly, and once the micro-seconds pass, there's no going back. Bugger. They finished it beautifully. Touching, as ever.

"Cocaine", as the first encore, left me cold, as ever. This number must appeal to a particular audience, as he has always done it live whenever I’ve caught him, and, as ever, I could do without it. I don’t know why he doesn't play the funkier and more interesting "After Midnight" if he has to do a JJ Cale number, or the marvellous “Ride The River” from their recent collaboration. The finale was "Crossroads" which was pretty good, and the man left us with a wonderfully clean final solo.

All up, it was lovely, there were some special highlights, and it was always interesting – how neat to have a screen just overhead showing close-ups of the players’ hands at work. I was interested to see that both Derek (all the time) and Doyle Bramhall II (much of the time) play electric (as well as acoustic) guitar with their bare fingers, as distinct from playing with picks. Unless this is a new trend, it is very unusual. I can't remember seeing a slide player, like Derek, playing blistering solos with his bare fingers. EC always uses a pick, but supplements it with his fingers when he's playing acoustic, which all makes for a great feel inside the music. At times, Trucks went close to stealing the show, yet EC also punctuated him very well, setting up his spaces and then pulling him back down into the band.

I can’t remember seeing EC with two side guitars before, and it supplies a fabulous extra dimension, even if it does dilute EC himself somewhat. Chris Stainton on keyboards, Willie Weeks on bass and Steve Jordan on drums, together with a second keyboards player and two back-up chick singers, are one helluva ensemble. There is, in any case, a longstanding integrity to EC's music, which holds the sound together. While Clapton acknowledges the crowd, and the players acknowledge each other frequently, there is no sense of them seeking, let alone begging for, audience approval. I always enjoy the refreshment that comes with the sheer confidence of top flight international bands.

On the other hand, apart from "Little Wing", which was inspired and we were privileged, EC struck me as lacking the extremities he once had, which means that his concerts are less exhausting, less satisfying than they once were. The sound, for instance, was normal concert, whereas historically EC has always been very fucking loud. For all the reasons we know and understand, he can never again be the guitarist on the cusp of breaking music like you have never heard before, and is therefore bound to be less tense, less risky, less exciting. Perhaps, if we were to compare him with Dylan, Clapton's now tidying up in the late end of his career, rather than making consummating final statements.

But hey, it was a blast. My life passed before my eyes ... wish he’d done "White Room" … might go back again tomorrow night.

2/2/07 Update by Amanda: More guitar nerd discussion at Blogocracy.