Snake Farm By Beth Garner

August 3, 2017

Beth Garner has returned with her new album Snake Farm. It is a tight seven track release with six original songs, plus the title song cover of “Snake Eyes” by Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Garner has a wonderfully soulful voice that provides a firm foundation for her blues sound. She is an adept traditional blues guitarist, who really shines when playing in a slide guitar style.

Recorded just about live in the studio, she rolls through a program of modern days electric blues that moves in a rock and roll direction at times. “Wish I Was” is a three chord jam-fest that proves the blues don’t have to be serious all the time. “Used To Be” is a shuffle-style song about aging. Her take on the title track returns the song to its gritty roots.

Garner is one of those musicians who is constantly on the road plying her chosen trade in small clubs coast to coast. In many ways, she represents the way the blues should be played and heard.

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,”

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.

No More Blue Mondays By Landon Sprandlin

June 19, 2017

This music has been around a while but good music is eternal.

Landon Spradlin is a tried and true USA blues shouter and guitar aficionado who travelled to England two decades ago to record the music for this album. No More Blue Mondays was originally released in 1995 and now makes a long waited for return.

Spradlin has a soulful voice that is unique for a blues musician but his frenetic guitar runs are pure blues. The old blues song “I’ve Never Been To Seminary” is a gritty re-invention of the tune. The title track is a smooth blues excursion that is fueled by his pyrotechnics on the guitar.

Spradlin has shared the stage with such artists as Lee Roy Parnell, Rick Derringer, The Nighthawks, and the Kentucky Headhunters so it is good to see his work fronting his own band. No More Blue Mondays is a solid album dedicated to the blues.

50 Years With Peter, Paul And Mary (DVD) By Peter, Paul And Mary

June 19, 2017

Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers, better known as Peter, Paul & Mary, sold tens-of-millions of records during the early 1960’s pre-Beatles era and enjoyed a career that lasted until Mary’s death in 2009.

The trio formed in 1961 and they quickly became an important part of the folk revival movement. Their smooth style helped to make folk music a part of the American musical consciousness. Their early hits, “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” introduced Bob Dylan to the American public.

50 Years With Peter, Paul & Mary is a retrospective of their career as seen through concert footage, news clips, and interviews. Most of their well-known songs are presented. There is early footage from a long-lost BBC program, the famous performance of “Blowin’ In The Wind” at the 1965 Martin Luther King march on Washington, the poignant farewell to Mary Travers nostalgic memorial, and everything in between.

They are forever linked with the Civil Rights and Anti-War movement. Today their songs such as “Puff (The Magic Dragon),” “If I Had A Hammer,” “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane,” and “Stewball” may seem a little quaint and may have lost some of their impact but they are a reminder of a simpler era of the early 1960’s that quickly changed to a far more complicated one by the end of the decade.

The video and sound tend to of varying quality depending upon the date and whether it was originally meant for general release.  Everything has been cleaned up as much as modern technology allows but much of it is still not up to the standards of the day.

There are probably better instructions to their music such as any of their compilation releases or any 0f their early 1960 albums. However, if you want to understand their career, then 50 Years With Peter, Paul And Mary is a good place to start.