Music Review: Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway, February 2017
My comments have nit changed much from my previous post on Rhiannon Giddens: This 2017 album features a woman with a strong and beautiful voice – singing folk songs of America – making very beautiful Americana music.
Once upon a time thought The Rolling Stones were one of the great rock’n’roll bands – who also occasionally sang the blues. In between those early years and now there was not a lot of great music from the Stones – loads of concerts and a mix of music – some good and some ok. Would they ever make great music again?
Shine A Light – Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad. 2016 Billy Bragg & Joe Henry
Here’s a fun story about two musicians and how they made this album. They hopped on the train and then jumped off at stops along the way to record a song – while making sure they were back on board as the train left. And yes – the music is good stuff. Definitely worth a listen if you are a follower of Billy Bragg and Joe Henry. Click here for more on the album.
Join two wonderful voices, join two approaches to making music and two lives that have crossed over several times, and you have two marvellous talents – and the result – a great album. Many of the songs are original – and some are covers. It’s all good stuff.
Music Review: Carlo Emerald Acoustic Sessions 2013
I have reviewed Caro Emerald’s music before. It is great! I recently came across some acoustic versions of previous songs that had been released but may now be hard to find. Luckily I found a copy and there are several of the songs online.
Here’s an album by a great jazz blues singer who continually crosses over genres in her many albums. This being a year of celebration of Billie Haliday (her 100th Birthday), Cassandra Wilson has taken a selection of Billie’s songs and covered her music not by doing an imitation, but by making the songs her own.
This album, the first for Rhiannon as a solo artist, features a woman with a strong voice who is singing songs about women written by women. Rhiannon Giddens wrote just one —the last one. The musicians on this album do a fabulous job – and together it is one beautiful experience. Some people may have some difficulties, as she has collected 10 songs from very different sources.
When I first listened to the Bluesbreakers in the 1970s, I was listening to music that was almost ten years old. Good heavens, how uncool was that!
John Mayall was making his form of blues in the sixties, in the seventies – and now in the 21st Century he is still pumping it out. How cool is that! Back in the seventies no-one could have imagined that we would be listening to the same guy in 2014 as he turned eighty.
I am sure there are plenty of people who are not taken with much of Dylan’s later music. It has been very much a mixed affair. I am sure that there will be plenty of people who will not get this new album by Dylan. The songs and Dylan’s treatment of them do not fit easily with any category.
Bryan Ferry’s album, Avonmore, concentrates on the failure of love. Obviously something to do with his most recent marriage and divorce. The music links directly back to former albums such as Boys and Girls (1985) and Bête Noir (1987) as well as Roxy Music’s Avalon (1982).
The production is pure Bryan Ferry. His music continues. What’s age got to do with it? He’s 70 years young and still making music. Good stuff.
Albums by Joan Osborne, including Bring It On Home, 2012
This was my first album by Joan Osborne despite her longish career. This album is for those who love to hear blues and rhythm & blues music being revisited by a talented singer. This is not about simply duplicating the former versions. Rather Joan Osborne and her musicians have delivered some great music through their own soul interpretations.
I noticed a rave review online for a singer I had not noticed before, Caitlin Canty. After some further research and listening to the online samples, I dutifully downloaded her music to hear the whole album.
All was going OK, but I was not that enthusiastic on the first listen. No worry, this often happens. I was about to put aside for the night – when I came upon the second last track.
This album from Marianne Faithfull sees her return to a style close to that of her 1979 album, Broke English – which remains a great piece of music. I recommend this music. Those who have followed her music will really enjoy this album.
Eric Clapton & Friends – The Breeze: An Appreciation of J J Cale (2014)
I am going to keep this short. I have for a long time liked the music of J J Cale. I also happen to like much of , but not all, the music of Eric Clapton. I am aware of many collaborations between J J Cale and Eric Clapton. They are, were, a natural mix and between them we have some great music to enjoy.
If you have read my former post on Mary Gauthier (click here,) you know that I very much like her two former albums. This album is hard blues country by a very talented singer songwriter about love gone wrong. Through the eight songs, Mary lets us in on the thoughts and reactions she worked through as she dealt with the end of a relationship. It hurts.
This is a great JJ Cale piece of music. Published in 2009. It was his last before his death in 2013.
If you haven’t already – have a good listen. It will be worth it. As usual, he has stuck mostly to his usual style being somewhere out there between okie folk, blues, roots music and a bit of americana. All good stuff.
This group of talented Canadians has been making fantastic music for a couple of decades. I cannot remember how many times I have sat back, often with my headphones on, and allowed their music to take me away from all the troubles hanging around. These days life is much more peaceful and the music is even better.
Beth Orton and Sugaring Season (Deluxe Edition) 2013
Sometimes you buy an album then life gets in the way and you do not get to the chance to really get into the music. This has happened several times to me with the music of Beth Orton. It was a case of bad timing.
I have had albums by Beth for a decade or more but it was only very recently, last week in fact, that I was able to dedicate serious time to sit and listen to her albums. I am recommending her music and would love to see a stage performance. Just dreaming!
Linton Kwensi Johnson, more time, from Paris Live, 2004
We have been bombarded recently with a lot of neo-conservative rubbish about how everyone needs to work longer hours and stay in work for more years. There’s so much indoctrination being put about how people need to do more and expect less. I disagree.
Dear Leonard has a new album out 23 September 2014. The title is ‘Popular Problems‘. When questioned about the tone of the new songs, Leonard responded that the world seemed to be confronting all forms of crisis right now. However he added with a smile that he is ‘closet optimistic’.
I wandered into this exhibition with some doubts given the title. I have long been sceptical of the direct link that some artists and authors make between music and the visual arts. This is not to say that some visual artists may be influenced by some music or rhythms.
Neil Young has published an online song asking the question about ‘who is gonna to stand up and save the earth?’. The song contains comments about the damage being done to the earth and that we need to take on the big corporations. click here for the song
Hunters & Collectors: Throw Your Arms Around Me (1986)
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) definitely needs to ensure that its profile as a broadcaster identifies with the many communities within Australian society. It has recently moved on this by using a slightly revised version of a very popular song by the band, Hunters & Collectors. I have a problem with this choice.
Yes Folks, maybe some of you thought that Leonard Cohen’s 2012 album, Old Ideas, may have been the last album from this genius. Not so. L Cohen has announced that there is another to be released just after his 80th birthday this year, 2014.
I have already posted a review of Carmel’s music. Click here. As I said earlier Carmel McCourt’s music is to be enjoyed, and to be enjoyed often. It was a nice surprise to see three new tracks uploaded for purchase. Click here. Not sure why they are called ‘lost recordings’.
I had previously posted about the extraordinary goings-on whereby we were seeing a rise in the number of vinyl albums being bought. Good heavens! It continues to this day with an amazing increase in the numbers being bought. The trouble is the supply to meet the demands.
Apparently John Hiatt described himself on this album as being “John, the Troubadour Folk Singer Blues Guy”. It is true and this is a very good album.
If you already know John Hiatt’s work, this is the 22nd Album, then I can recommend you add this album to your collection. It is that good. If you are unfamiliar with any or most of his albums, than start right here. It is that good.
There’s quite a few online videos of John Mayall performing in his 80th year. There’s a full concert online – but for now here is just one track from that performance. Yep, I wonder what I will be doing when I am 80?
Puss N Boots have released an album (due out today) titled No Fools, No Fun.
Puss n Boots are the band formed by three successful musicians, Sasha Dobson, Catherine Popper, and Norah Jones. The three perform individually under their own names and as support musicians to many others. They are busy people.
There’s not much more to say about Eliot Fisk & Paco Peña than as stated online: Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world’s best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy.
It was in a Newcastle (NSW) cinema that I first experienced the power of Joe Cocker’s voice and his music. It was 1971 and they were showing Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Somehow the advertising may have confused some, as not long after the movie started several older people departed. Those that stayed were rocked out of our heads!
Seeing a CD put out by Leon Russell throws up a host of memories. I remember the first time I saw him perform and heard that voice. That was back with the release of the film, Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Englishmen. (there’s a review of Joe Cocker to follow soon)
In between there have been countless albums, several of which have found their way to my collections.
Aaron Neville’s voice is the real thing. He is now over 70 years old and he sounds fantastic. Having several of his CDs in my collection, it was with heightened interest that I approached this one given the publicity that he was revisiting songs from his own childhood.
If you are interested in some fantastic new versions of doo-wop music, then this album will bring you hours of pleasure.
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2
These two albums were released in the early 1960s and they still hold up; they sound great.
The release of these albums was a landmark at the time as it saw this successful singer-songwriter cross over from his usual rhythm and blues and gospel singing to interpret classic country & western music.
Mary Gauthier’s Mercy Now( 2004 ); andBetween Daylight and Dark(2007)
I am not sure when I became interested in Americana music. Some people think Americana is another part of American country music. Not for me. It sits somewhere between country, rock and at times a there’s a little of the blues and ever now and then throw in a folk ingredient.
This is roughly where I put these two albums by Mary Gauthier. She has since put out three others and is due any week now to release another.
Music: How Women still are overlooked by Rolling Stone Magazine
Over the years there has been a massive increase in the recognition of women musicians. It would therefore be a natural expectations that important music magazines would reflect this achievement. Then again, why such optimism?
William Elliott Whitmore: Field Songs(2011) &Animals in The Dark(2009)
Reviewers love to be able to link a singer’s style to others. In reviewing William Elliott Whitmore they surely do struggle.
While his sound is definitely within the broad Americana set, his folk-blues voice makes him sound much older than he is, which is in his mid thirties. At times he sounds something like an old style preacher with a husky tone. Most of his songs centre around the American landscape, farming, life and death and all things in between.
Creating some headlines, especially in the UK, is this folk rock, pop band of players. The music is mainly written by the band with the lead singer being the singer songwriter. The band has been around for a few years now and the lead singer, originally from the US, moved to London in the 1990s.
The Crossroads Guitar Festival series was made in 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013. I have just finished watching the 2013 version and yes it is more of the same as with previous concerts. All good stuff. Eric Clapton has arranged these as a charity for a drug treatment centre in Antigua.
Eric Clapton has invited his colleagues to perform songs and each usually does a song or two – with Eric making the occasional appearances.
It was while researching the actor, Juliet Stevenson, that I was led to the music of a band in which her stepson was a player. Sam Lee is a collector of folk songs and then publishes and performs them through a wonderful use of instruments and song.
Ian Moss: two acoustic albums: Six Strings and Let’s Get Together
Looking back into my collection and listening to music that has been neglected over the last decade, I have focused on the music of Ian Moss and two acoustic albums. Six Strings (2005) & Let’s Get Together (2007)
There’s a lot of other music by Ian Moss and his music was a key to the success of Cold Chisel. The other musician that I have followed post Cold Chisel is Don Walker; more about him some other time.
The nut jobs launched themselves online to go on about how English is the language for America. Well that’s what they say. The same groups are anti everything else; gay marriage, equal right, migration – the lists goes on.
Of course I go back to the days of Peter, Paul and Mary and their concerts. In fact somewhere deep in the cupboard, there’s a vinyl album or two of Peter, Paul and Mary. Maybe a little worn out but just playable.
I had not followed Peter Seeger’s career that closely, until I watched the movie in 2008 , Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007). I then noticed that he was still out there and I observed that he appeared on the news occasionally taking a stand with others. He was still taking risks.
Watching that movie made me think again about being true to your beliefs. And that occasionally we have to take a stand on issues and sometimes there are consequences.
Canada’s Conservative government exploit Alberta tar sands
from the Guardian: 14 January 2014
Neil Young has entered into a war of words with Canada’s Conservative government, accusing officials of “killing” First Nations through their exploitation of the Alberta tar sands. The Toronto-born singer has exchanged verbal volleys with the office of prime minister Stephen Harper, who replied that “even … rock stars” rely on oil.
Neil Young sings a song with the line: singing a song won’t change the world! I do not necessarily agree as sometimes the song will add public and high-profile voice to issues. But that could be what he meant.
The issues that people need to take a stand on are endless. People do need to speak up and not be silenced for fear of speaking out. I have witnessed so many people in this category of being silent when it would have been timely, and maybe risky, to express a point of view publicly or in support of others. Continue reading Natalie Merchant→
In case you are wondering, this album cover was deemed very un-Beatle and was withdrawn.
The album covers were things that many of us used to enjoy a lot. The covers were something we would read, admire the graphics and then prop them up so that we could look at them while the vinyl was being played. It was a visual experience.
Mind you there were many crap album covers that made you wonder, What were they thinking? Then there were those tapes in those plastic cassette cases in the eighties. The rectangular boxes just did not measure up aesthetically.
Neil Young Stuns With a Spellbinding Carnegie Hall Show of a marathon set featuring a wealth of Seventies classics
Early last year (2013) I was blown away (literally) by the very loud concert by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. At the concert, and apparently some others around the world, many in the audience expressed some desire for Neil to play more of his older materials. And Neil Young just loves people from the audience who tell him what he should do!
Some I noticed departed half way through the concert. They had obviously not been listening to his later materials and had ignored the sign that said Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The Crazy Horse ingredient always means loud rock and grunge music.
Rosanne Cash is about release a new album in mid January 2014.The album is titled The River and the Thread.
This news sent me back to play some of her other work, including two favourites, Black Cadillac (2006) and the more recent The List (2009). (she has not released an album since then)
In Rosanne’s on words: “When I was 18, I was on the road with my dad (Johnny Cash). One day, we were sitting in the tour bus, talking about songs, and he mentioned a song, and I said, “I don’t know that one.” He mentioned another one, and I said, “I don’t know that one, either.” Then he started to get alarmed, so he spent the rest of the day making a list on a legal pad, and at the top he put “100 Essential Country Songs.”
With the death of one of the Everly Brothers, we are reminded of how influential they were. The list of who claims to have been influenced by them starts with the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and much of the early west coast sound, including the Birds and the Eagles.
Here’s another live set from Neil Young’s archive. There’s been a few of late and as before the critical response has been fairly positive. This one is a selection of live recording of Neil by himself over several nights in late 1970. At first I was not so sure but I have warmed to it with a few adjustments. Having heard so many of the songs in different versions, when I am listening to this stripped down early version, I suspect that my listening is layered with memories of the other versions.
Warning: I have been a fan of Neil’s music from early 1971.
Do you want to dance around the house? Want to dance away the night? Want to lift your spirits? Want to sing along and swing to some great music?
Then let me introduce you to Carlo Emerald and two CDs that you should consider adding to your music library.
If it was possible for me to wear out a CD, or the digital version of same, then Caro’s 2011 Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor is one of these. Whenever I playing this CD, it spins on the player for days – or more.
Over the last decade I have dipped in and out of the music of Patty Griffin. Americana and some country music and several in between are some of the many lines of my music interest. In this case I do like the concept of Americana meets Led Zepplin!
Yes Robert is Patty’s partner. Here’s a couple from her current album, American Kid. Robert appears on several of the songs.