Some hippie tunes for Tony.
Ran into my bud Tony and his wife, the other evening. About Tony I could say much. We go back to the fall of 1970–man, forty years–and the shared vibe was music. He was way ahead of me as a 10th grader, even if I was a quick learner. As we chatted and caught up, I was moved to remind him he was the first one to expose me to Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Dave Van Ronk, George Jones, Charlie Rich, and a host of other Gods and minor deities. He was a good picker himself and he remains to this day as earnest a fellow as can be.
He asked me ‘What have you heard that’s any good?’ Well, we’ve asked each other this question any number of times. I tossed out a few answers, but didn’t give the question the amount of attention it always deserves.
Actually, so far, 2010 has been a banner year across the spectrum of my wide ranging tastes. This is especially true for the ol’ hippie music, as in the terrific lay downs of folk rock and good ol’ American countryfied rock and roll. Moreover, many of my favored artists over the aforementioned forty years have put out some of their best work ever. Which, at least when I think about it, is amazing. The music business has gone through several wringers cum transformations and, as the saying goes, it isn’t your father’s record biz anymore. However, as a friend put it years ago, “the artist is compelled to record.” Thank goodness for this, too.
The following is a streaming taste of lot of the gems I was moved to think about. The underlying records answer the question, in part. I’ve mentioned a few previously; New Pornographers, Earl Greyhound.
At the moment, none of these records is second-to-none. I always make out a year-end list and have to choose one, so, you dear muso will have to wait and see. Still, I’d highlight from this set the excellent new records by Jackson Browne, Richard Thompson, and Brian Wilson, and Jamie Johnson. This would be three old hands!
Jackson Browne has been putting out excellent records for along time, and, especially over the last decade. I’m Alive is his new gift to his fans and it’s superb. I’d describe it as Jackson and Dave (Lindley) sort of meet something like the Buena Vista Social Club.
Richard Thompson’s new record, Dream Attic, is yet another great Thompson record. However, it transcends the known Thompson quantity/quality for a simple reason: it’s got as good a set of songs as just about anything in his glorious, yup, forty plus year discography. There’s an extra dollop of verve here too.
Brian Wilson ReImagines Gershwin is not a concept likely to go wrong. Wilson is the hippie Gershwin, right? And, any card carrying Wilson fan will have to get this. Heck, I’d buy Brian SIngs From the Shower. This fine new outing deserves wider exposure. One selling point is how Brian affectionately, and brilliantly, Wilson brings to life big servings of pre-rock era pop. This journey many times winds its way back well before the hippie days to evoke memories and the atmosphere of classic vocal harmony pop. A listener doesn’t have to know of The Hi-Los, Four Freshman, and Jackie and Roy, to get where a lot of this record is seemingly coming from, yet, to have a sense of its deep roots adds to its many pleasures. This could end up at the top at year end.
A few additional notes. The set kicks off with posthumously released tracks from acoustic guitar innovator Rose and the great NOLA icon Bobby Charles. Cindy Bullens has been since 1979, and her new record Howling Dogs and Barking Dogs, is excellent. It’s not really a comeback because Cindy has been putting out good records, infrequently, since day one. This is on the country side and is filled with gritty singing and songs for grown-ups.
This set reflects the pop side of my sonic universe. So: more of the other facets will be on offer in the future.
1 Jack Rose-Woodpiles On The Side Of The Road 3:10
2 Bobby Charles-Rollin’ Round Heaven 4:22
3 Lloyd Cole-Man Overboard 2:44
4 Eliza Carthy-Prairie Lullaby 3:48
5 Brian Wilson-Nothing But Love 3:24
6 Jackson Browne-The Next Voice You Hear 9:08
7 Los Lobos-Jupiter Or The Moon 4:22
8 Cindy Bullens-In a Perfect World 3:39
9 Richard Thompson-Sidney Wells 7:34
10 Alejandro Escovedo-After The Meteor Showers 4:38
11 Jamey Johnson-Even The Skies Are Blue 3:55
12 Anne McCue – Broken Promise Land 2:58
13 Eels-This Is Where It Gets Good 6:18
14 The New Pornographers-Moves 3:52
15 Elizabeth Cook-El Camino 2:43
16 Earl Greyhound-Out of Air 5:26
17 Mumford & Sons-Roll Away Your Stone 4:24
Okay, indulge me if you wish by hitting play and putting the page in tab. 70+ minutes long; 192kbs. I’ve supplied links for each artist to support closer investigation. Enjoy.[audio:http://www.squareone-learning.com/audio/In-A-Perfect-World.mp3|titles=stream In A Perfect World]