A Song I Can Live With By Chip Taylor

July 10, 2017

Chip Taylor may be an artist you may not have heard of but he is an artist you probably have heard.

He is one of the latest inductees into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. His career has now reached the 60 year mark as it stretches back to his big 1960’s hit by the Troggs, “Wild Thing. Hundreds of songs have followed that have spread out into rock, country, and folk. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Dusty Spring, and Frank Sinatra are just a few of the artists who have recorded his songs.

He has also been a consistent presence in the studio; producing consistent, melodic, and lyrically incisive music. His solo albums tend to be laid back affairs that are comfortable in a country of folk music setting.

His newest release, A Song I Can Live With, is a lot lighter than his recent releases. He used a stream of consciousness approach in the creation of the songs. Songs such as “Crazy Girl,” “New York In Between,” “Save Your Blues And Your Money,” and “Little Angel Wings,”

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Love Me By Name By Lesley Gore

July 10, 2017

Lesley Gore, (1946-2015), was a teen idol during the 1960’s. Beginning in 1963 at the age of 16, she placed close to 20 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Songs such as the number one “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” “She’s A Fool,” “You Don’t Own Me,” and “California Nights” taped into teen angst, love, and life. By the end of the decade her commercial peak was past and she moved on to writing, acting, and appearing on the oldies circuit.

She recorded nine studio albums 1963-1967, but only four more during the next 48 years. Love Me By Name reunited her with producer Quincy Jones. It was an attempt to take her career in an adult direction and for the most part it succeeds.

Love Me By Name is an impeccably produced and recorded album of music. What adds to the interest is the fact Gore co-wrote all 12 of the tracks.

The styles move in a number of directions. “Immortality: is probably the album’s best track. It is a smooth pop song that updates her teen sound. The single version of the song is included as a bonus track. A little longer than the album track, it was re-imagined for the mid-1970’s dance floor.

“Paranoia” allows her to travel in a rock and roll direction for one of the few times in her career. It is a dark piece complete with blazing guitars. “Can’t Seem To Live Our Good Times Down” moves in a completely different direction. It is an easy-listening pop extravaganza with strings, brass, and background vocals. “Along The Way” falls into the light jazz category thanks to the harmonica play of Toots Thielmans.

Love Me By Name is a versatile and satisfying album that deserved a better commercial fate. It is proof that Lesley Gore created good music after her teen years were past.


Death’s Dateless Night By Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen

July 10, 2017

Paul Kelly has been a superstar in his native Australia for several decades. He has produces numerous albums of reflective and cerebral pop/rock. He is also known for his creative approaches to presenting his music. A little over a decade ago he embarked on a series of concerts where he sang his original song catalogue in alphabetical order. He followed it with an eight disc CD set containing the songs in the same order. Early last hear he created an album of music using the love sonnets of Shakespeare as the lyrics.

Charlie Owens has been an Australian instrumental mainstay. His work with several bands and as an in-demand session musician has kept him in the public eye. Now he has joined Kelly in the creation of an album with a very unique theme.

There are concept albums and then there are concept albums. Death’s Dateless Night is an album of songs that they have performed at funerals.

The music is basic and for the most part acoustic. It is usually Owns on piano, dobro, or pedal steel and Kelly on guitar and vocals. The song-selection is more philosophical than depressing. Well known tunes such as Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire,” Lennon/McCartney’s “Let It Be,” and Townes Van Zandt’s “”To Live Is To Fly” are given simple renditions.

It is the less-known songs that make the biggest impact. The traditional and century old “Pallet On The Floor” and the near acapella Irish song “The Parting Glass” are stunning despite their simplicity. “Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air” is one of two original compositions that uses the 23rd Psalm as a jumping off place. The album concludes with Hank Williams’ “Angel of Death.”

Paul Kelly and Charlie Owens have managed to make the concept of death both interesting and listenable. Death’s Dateless Night is another interesting career stop for Paul Kelly. Funerals have never been so interesting or entertaining.

 


Live At The G Spot By David Honeyboy Edwards

July 10, 2017

David “Honeyboy” Edwards, (1915-2011), may have been the last of the original Delta Bluesmen. He was born in Shaw, Mississippi, in 1915, and left home at the age of 14 to play the blues. He traveled with Robert Johnson for a number of years and was present when he drank poisoned liquor. He continued to perform until his death at the age of 96.

Omnivore Recordings has now released his last recorded concert as a two-disc DVD and CD set. At 95 years of age, Honeyboy performed a nine song set at the G Spot in Los Angeles, September 4, 2010. Backed by Jeff Dale & The South Woodlawners, he gave one of the last authentic concerts of the Delta Blues.

The CD and DVD contain the same material with two notable exceptions. The CD contains an extra band version of ‘That’s Alright.” The DVD includes twenty minutes of Edwards telling stories about music, Johnson, Charley Patton, and more.

The recording equipment was modern day, so the sound and video quality are excellent. The performance was filmed for release, so it has a cohesive feel. His song-set is a mix of originals and covers that span the decades. The backing band is capable and is wise enough to stay out of his way, although by just being there they lesson the primitive aspect of his original music a bit.

Edwards was 95 years old at the time of the performance and his voice, while not as powerful as in his prime, remains effective. His guitar technique is still evident and the film pays some attention to this part of his legacy.

“Ride With Me Tonight,” “Little Boy Blue,” “Catfish Blues,” and “Sweet Home Chicago” are stripped to their essence. While Edwards may need a little more help than in the past, his roots are still on display.

I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know is about as modern as Honeyboy Edwards ever gets. It is an album for people who long for music from a different and now by-gone time.