Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 The Year in Review - Music

Don’t let anybody tell you it wasn’t a good year for music. I know there were plenty of highlights for me...

Amy Correia started the year off with one of the best independently financed CDs of the year. “You go your way” is a long way from “The Bike” her classic song from 2000. Her voice is gutsier and more mature. Her band and producer were top notch. And her songwriting is still wonderful. I also got to see her live this year and without the band her songs were even more compelling.

This was also the year for the bulk of Sam Phillips “Long Play” project. “Magic for Everybody”, “Old Tin Pan” and “Days of One Night Stands” combined are among the best work she has done. I know that on this list next year I will be talking about the final installment of the project. It isn’t too late to grab all of the music. Just go to http://samphillips.com .

Maybe my favorite song of the year is “Where Are We Now” from the debut CD, “The Burned” from The Burned. Technically, it was released in December of ‘09, but that’s close enough for me. This dark song, with minor chord hooks just gets inside you and won’t let go. Think Pink Floyd or a darker Moody Blues with great guitar work. Or maybe my favorite is Richard Thompson's "If Love Whispers Your Name". Sad, moving and a blistering guitar solo to end this live song that ends the live CD, “Dream Attic”.

I had a couple of favorite concerts this year. On the serious side, The Swell Season played the 120 seat McCabe’s in Santa Monica. It was just the two of them and it doesn’t get any more personal than that. They both told stories and we got even more insight into these lovely people. And the music... As intense as when the whole band is there. On the crazy side, Steve Poltz turned 50 and celebrated with a new CD and a show at The Belly Up in Solana Beach. Everyone from A.J. Croce (Jim’s son and an amazing keyboard player) to Mojo Nixon (they don’t get much more crazy or obscene) showed up to wish Steve a happy birthday and perform. Even the Rugburns (Steve’s old band) reunited for the evening.

If there is a theme to this year, it would be "return to form". A whole bunch of artists have put out there best CD's in years. And a few of them are...

2010 saw the return of Katell Keineg. After two amazing CDs back in the 90’s, support from everyone from Natalie Merchant to Vonda Shepard, she pretty much disappeared. She had released a few CDs (or EPs) but they were lucky to have a single song that was interesting. “At The Mermaid Parade” was a wonderful return to form. It is great to have such a unique artist back, bringing us music.

Allison Moorer's "Crows" was also a return to form. Although she hasn't had a bad CD, this CD is the type of work we expect from such a talented artist.

Maybe I was the only one that didn't like John Hiatt's last CD, but I'm in his corner with this years "The Open Road". Great lyrics, great tunes, great artist.

Joan Armatrading returned to form last year with her excellent blues based CD. This year she brought back her pop side with, “This Charming Life”. Her live show was as good as any of hers since the late 80's.

Any year there is a Kenny White CD, it is a good year. “Comfort in the Static” is another jem.

Alejandro Escovedo teamed up again with Chuck Prophet and Tony Visconti and hit another home run with “Street Songs of Life”; maybe his best CD ever.

2010 I will remember as the year I gave up on Austin's ACL Festival. We did see some good shows (Gogol Bordello was one of my favorites), but even the clubs seemed out of sync this year. When you can only find one good show to see in Austin on a given night, there's something wrong. 2011 will be the year I remember as my first visit to SXSW. Can't wait for March.

In the category of young new bands, Mumford & Sons' rookie release, “Sigh No More”, was one of my favorites as was Angus and Julia Stone’s second domestic release, “Down The Way”. Both featured unique but very accessible music.

Under the category of “They haven’t changed... but who cares”, The latest from The Innocence Mission, “My Room in the Trees” was beautiful and even though we’ve heard it all before, they always make it sound fresh.

And last but not least, there is no competition for the best box set. Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise”, was just amazing from every angle: A good remastering of “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, packaging that will take weeks for me to browse through, some great concert videos and some great unreleased material from that era. One of the rare times when Bruce gave us so much more than we asked for.

There was plenty of good music this year and I tried to bring as much of it as possible to The Promise. A big thank you to all of my listeners. And for those of you who have written or told me in person how much you like my station... I do it all for you. Have a happy New Years everyone!

Final List of Muisc for 2010

Okay, I have a shot at getting through all of the 2010 CDs that I have to review. This is a doable list. :-) It may take a few weeks to get them all loaded on my station, but now I’ll actually have a shot at listing some of my favorites of the year... As soon as I get through the following:

Robert Plant - Band of Joy (2010)
I really liked this CD. Whereas the Raising Sand CD was split between the two of them, this CD is really Robert exploring Americana with some excellent help from people like Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller. It is a rougher album and more exciting.
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (2010)
They continue to put out strong CDs with a message and a beat. Better than the last one. And if you have Chrome on your computer, you must check out this web site, http://thewildernessdowntown.com/ , that uses a song from the CD. Really amazing.
Gogol Bordello - Trans-Continental Hustle (2010)
This is such a fun band. Imagine Flogging Molly, but with a Russian gypsy sound. This new CD adds some Spanish influence with a message about immigration as seen from the side of the poor.
Los Lobos - Tin Can Trust (2010)
They just keep coming out with good CDs. Add this one to your collection.
Pete Yorn - Pete Yorn (2010)
I’ve always loved Pete’s music. It’s the lyrics that have been problematic for me. If you’re a fan, you will love this hard rockin’ CD. I enjoyed it... But it could be so much better.
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - III / IV (2010)
If you love the rockin’ Ryan Adams, you should like this double CD. But for me, there is something missing. I’m not sure exactly what it is though. In time I’ll figure it out. Still, the Ryan Adams with something missing is better than most CDs out there.
Elvis Costello - National Ransom (2010)
All over the musical map, this CD sounds good and works on some levels. In his heyday, Elvis had some great hooks, both musically and lyrically. This is no where near that, but it is enjoyable.
Paul Thorn - So Far So Good Live (2010)
Good live music from someone who deserves more attention. Check out any of my reviews from his previous CDs.
Richard Barone - Glow (2010)
This was so much better than I imagined. To me, on this CD he is the American version of Robyn Hitchcock; strange music with lethal hooks. It isn’t really strange, just slightly twisted. I highly recommend this.
Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues (2010)
Steve’s son gives us solid dose of Americana. Worth checking out.
KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 18 (2010)
Probably not the best in the series, but this is always a highlight of the fall season for me. Get one while you still can at http://www.waterloorecords.com .
Paul Vens & Friend - Words in Time (2010)
Mellow. Beautiful. New Age. These all describe Paul’s music. A very acoustic folk sound from Holland, Paul Vens’ music is hard to label, but very enjoyable. http://www.paulvens.com
Ben Folds/Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue (2010)
What an interesting combination. Nick’s lyrics take Ben’s music on an unusual journey, but it feels like it is missing its soul. With each listen though, the songs seemed to grab me a bit more. It may be worth the effort to keep listening.
JP Chrissie & The Fairground Boys - Fidelity (2010)
What can I say that I haven’t already said about this band. The CD is an interesting concept about a couple who got together, broke up and then formed a band. The highlights happen whenever Chrissie Hynde opens her mouth and sings. The low lights are whenever she doesn’t. There is some good music here. If you can get it cheap...

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 End of year Rap Up - Part 2

I’ve been sitting on a pile of music from 2010 and it is probably impossible to get it all out by the end of the year, but I’m going to keep on trying.

Kim Richey - Wreck Your Wheels (2010)
I just love Kim’s sound and this CD does not disappoint. If you haven’t heard her before, do check her out (especially “Glimmer”). Otherwise, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here.
Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses - Junky Star (2010)
It’s not Country and it’s not really folk and it certainly isn’t Crazy Heart. This Americana artist sings way beyond his years and is worth checking out.
Raul Malo - Sinners & Saints (2010)
Continuing to mix his musical influences, Raul creates another fine CD with one Spanish ballad, a few Country styled songs and some rockin’ Tex-Mex. I love the path he continues to follow since ending the Mavericks.
Richard Thompson - Dream Attic (2010)
This is a live album. That is, it is recorded live. Otherwise, it is unlike most other live albums. The songs are all new and there are no interactions with the audience. The idea was to capture the new songs in mid tour, while they are still alive and maybe not even fully matured. Although there are some out there who don’t think the songwriting is up to his best work, I loved the entire CD and highly recommend it; especially the closer, “If Love Whispers Your Name”, with its blistering guitar solos.
Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs - God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise (2010)
Okay, maybe I’m the last station to play this CD: It is only because I got behind. This is another strong one from Ray.
Black Dub - Black Dub (2010)
I was real excited when I heard the first single from this CD, but after two excellent songs, the CD turns south with some noodling from Daniel Lanois and then it moves off into a Gospel style and it just lost me. Still, the first two songs are really good.

2010 Year End Rap Up

It is hard to believe 2010 is almost over. There is so much to say and so little time. Let’s see how much I can get in here:

We’ll start with a concert from a few weeks ago. Raul Malo played the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano for the second time this year. With each performance Raul seems to get better and better and it seems (at least in the OC) fewer and fewer people are wondering about a return of the Mavericks. With just a quartet behind him (the keyboardist played horns and vibes)
Raul and his band rocked the house with more then enough energy.










Opening for Raul was Austin blues/singer/songwriter Seth Walker. When I saw him in Austin earlier this year, he had bass and drums behind him, allowing him to play lots of acoustic leads on his guitar. This night he was alone (except for one song when he brought up Raul’s drummer). As a soloist, you really get a better feel for his songs and it is a much more intimate performance. I really enjoyed him this way. In the end, he had most of the audience singing along to “Days Like This”, which is a classic. At the end of the Raul’s show, Raul brought Seth back on stage and made the crowd sing “Days Like This” all over again. It was very funny and telling as to the respect that Raul has for Seth.









On to the music. Here are the lastest CDs being added to The Promise:
Seth Walker - Leap of Faith (2009)
I loved his show in Austin with two pieces behind him. Loved him even more in the OC as a solo show. And... Love him even more with a full band and Seth singing a light friendly but soulful blues. If you like Jack Johnson or Ray LaMontagne, you should check Seth out. http://sethwalker.com
Elton John/Leon Russell - The Union (2010)
If you love the early Elton and early Leon, you can’t help but like this CD. There are no big “hits” on it, but The Union is still a very enjoyable.
Amy Cook - Let The Light In (2010)
Produced by Alejandro Escovedo, Amy sounds a lot like a rougher Brandi Carlile. She’s got that big voice and some big music behind her in her latest release. http://amycook.com
Poul Finn Pedersen - Coveralls (2010)
The leader of local favorite Missiles of October, Poul leads us through a batch of covers (get it, Cover alls?) with a couple of self written songs just for good measure. These are wonderful interpretations and its a pretty interesting group featuring Steve Earle, Bob Dylan and Anders Osborne songs. I’m not sure how to get hold of this CD other than at concerts, but you can start at http://missilesofoctober.com .
Spottiswoode & His Enemies - Wild Goosechase Expedition (2010)
This is maybe the least strange and most accessible CD from Spottiswoode. That’s not to say it is commercial. Some of the songs are from a solo CD he released earlier and they all sound even better with the full arrangements. http://www.spottiswoode.com
Neil Young - Le Noise (2010)
By the end of my first listen to Neil’s latest, I wasn’t real excited about writing this review, let alone which songs I was going to pick to put on the stream. Now, as I listen to each one again and try to do the thumbs up and down, I can’t seem to pull the thumb down. One song at a time I really like this CD.
Elizabeth and the Catapult - The Other Side of Zero (2010)
More poppy than their previous efforts there is still a unique sound here that separates them from the rest of the pack. Zero is smart and a lot of fun.

There is so much more. But here is the first batch. Some how I need to get this done in the next few days.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

Arlo's Alice's Restaurant will be playing every couple of hours today, starting right now. Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Promise on The Promise


The Promise - Bruce Springsteen (2010)
Oh, where to start? :-)
A friend of mine emailed me the other day: “Saw Sunday Times, ad for Bruce S.
album coming out or is out called : THE PROMISE, What is UP with THAT!!!!!!!!!!????????????”. I explained to her that my station and blog’s name came from a Bruce Springsteen song that, at the time I started this station, had only been released on a compilation CD. I used the name because it represented so much of what my station was about. There has always been lots of Bruce on my station and The Promise could have easily been an alternative title to Darkness. I remember thinking, back in 2002, about the promise of radio and how it always ended up disappointing me (great stations never seem to last in Southern California). Most important though, it was a title that only a Springsteen fan would totally get. It was just rare enough to make it stand out. So much for that. Okay, on to the CD...
Let me start by saying that the box set is amazing. The whole thing is a replica of Bruce’s notebook from that time. I have just skimmed the DVD’s briefly, but a big fan of Bruce’s will want them. The remastering of Darkness on the Edge of Town is excellent. If you listen to music with a real sound system (you’re probably not going to notice on your IPod) you will notice the clarity and tightness of the sound over the original CD release.
So, let’s get to the meat of the package. There are two discs that are just titled “The Promise”. They are 21 of more than 60 songs that did not make the cut when Darkness was released. But these are not just outtakes. At the time Bruce was going for a certain sound for his LP and no matter how good the song was, if it didn’t fit, it was out. Great songs like “Because the Night” and “Fire” were given away to other artists (Patti Smith and Robert Gordon respectively). Bruce also loved to mix and match lyrics with melodies until he found the right fit. Songs like “Candy’s Boy” morphed into “Candy’s Room” and “Spanish Eyes” turned into “I’m on Fire”. There are other wonderful nuggets that just got lost over the years like, “Save My Love”.
Bruce could have called this set, “The River Prequel” because the style on most of these songs is much lighter than Darkness and they would have easily fit in on “The River”. But outside of the songs he gave away, the best of the rest ended up on “The River”. It is hard to complain, though, because this is the most exciting batch of music to come from Bruce in many many years. Even so, I love the piano only version of “The Promise” from the “Tracks” CD over this version. And “Racing in the Street (‘78)” is interesting, but doesn’t hold a candle to the Darkness version.
Should you buy this CD? It is really for the big Springsteen fans; a valentine in November. But there are so many good songs here, it is hard to believe that others won’t find this enjoyable; although they may want to just buy the CD and pass on the box set. Excuse me now. I’ve got to get back to watching the videos.

Monday, November 08, 2010

New Music November 2010

Angus & Julia Stone - Down the Way (2010)
I love this brother/sister group. Both Angus and Julia are songwriters and each take their turns singing lead. Julia sounds a bit like Joanna Newsom except that she writes more accessible songs. I saw them at the ACL http://aclfestival.blogspot.com this year and bought the CD based on that performance. I was not disappointed. One of my favorite CDs of 2010.
Balmorhea - All is Wild, All is Silent (2010)
An instrumental based band out of Austin, Balmorhea has the musical skill and the talent to do most anything they want. Without vocals they are limiting themselves, but there is a future here.
Luke Powers - Hwy 100 (2010)
I’ve enjoyed all of Luke’s indie CDs so far and this one is no exception. As always, there are interesting stories song from Luke’s unique folk perspective. http://www.phoebeclaire.net
DC Cardwell - Some Hope (2010)
From down under, DC Cardwell helps to prove my theory that the closer you get to Antarctica, the happier your songs sound. Okay, maybe that is a bit out there, but everyone from Crowded House to Emily Maguire to Midnight Oil, seems to have a knack for sweet melodies; and DC is no exception. DC’s style is very American Folk, but the melodies and some nice arrangements give it a little something extra. “Some Hope” is his first full CD, and although independently produced, it is being released here in the states next month. Until then, you can pick up this CD directly from his web site http://dccardwell.com/ .
Sharon Van Etten - Epic (2010)
I was listening to The Loft on Sirius/XM when one of the songs from this short CD came on. I was immediately grabbed by the vocals (a bit of Kathleen Edwards but less Country). I wrote the name down and grabbed a copy as soon as I could. I still was not prepared for how good this CD is. Almost every song grabs you even though they each have a different feel to them. Just pick this up and check it out for yourself.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Cheryl Wheeler and Jill Sobule at McCabe’s

A Cheryl Wheeler concert is always about Kenny White for me. I love Cheryl; her voice, her fun songs and especially her stories. But the stories haven’t changed much over the last few years. Although they are funny 3 or 4 times, I would much rather hear new stories. So, there was no Kenny this year and although Cheryl had the crowd in stitches throughout, it could be so much better. Cheryl is a naturally funny lady with great timing. Hopefully there will be new creative juices in the future for her.
Although I love full shows by Jill Sobule, I’m thinking that I may like her better when she is an opener. For the second time in a row I watched Jill open to a crowd that didn’t know her music. The first time, opening for J.D. Souther, she dropped the F bomb, grabbed the Coach House audience’s attention and never let it go. This time, she came out and sang her humorous songs from her latest CD, California Years. Knowing that this was a crowd looking for a laugh, Jill obliged them, performing “Where is Bobby Gentry”, “Palm Springs”, “San Francisco” and “A Good Life”, along with requests “Mexican Wrestler” and “Heroes”. It was a wonderfully executed 45 minute set with Dave Carpenter playing stand up bass (and backup vocals) on most of the songs.
Overall we (and I’m sure the crowd) had a great time and laughed more than you’d expect from a musical show. And, as always, the McCabe’s staff is friendly and professional. Can’t wait for the next concert there.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Live Music for October 2010

It’s been a busy week or so, and there is plenty to talk about, so let’s start backwards with the Chirssie and JP show last Wednesday...





JP Chrissie and the Fairground Boys featuring Amy
Correia at the Anaheim HOB

Honestly, I was there to see Amy (the opening act) and she did not disappoint. Playing to a 2/3 full House of Blues, and with only a bass player to support her, Amy Correia captured many in the crowds attention by singing her way through much of her current CD, “You Go Your Way”. Without Jay Bellerose, John Brion and company, Amy relied heavily on her voice to push the energy of the songs out to an unsuspecting crowd. The songs were gutsier and more dramatic and many in the audience, at least those who weren’t busy taking pictures of themselves, could be seen bouncing along with the songs. This was my first time seeing her and I was so impressed. If I could have figured out a way to go see her the next night at the Belly Up I would have; especially after finally getting to hear, “The Bike” live. I would love to see her sing that to her own crowd. It is a natural sing-a-long. I can’t wait for her to come back some day. Do check out her CD. It is one of my favorites of the year.





The main reason I couldn’t find it in my heart to drive down to San Diego the next day was because I would then have to sit through JP Chrissie and the Fairground Boys again. It wasn’t that they were bad though (the tunes had nice beats and the lead guitarist was good and when Chrissie opens her mouth...). It is just that with one of the greatest singers in rock and roll history, who just came off of her best CD in years, and who has been linked to many great rock and rollers, it makes it hard to imagine how she ended up working with JP Jones. People like to talk about the 10,000 hours it takes to be good at something and it is evident when Chrissie is on stage that she has put in her time. She is relaxed and knows what she is doing up there. JP is at the beginning of his work arc and I’m not really sure how high it is going to go. His vocal range is limited, his guitar playing is basic and his lyrics were... at times creepy. Their whole CD is about their failed relationship and some of the things he says are a bit disturbing. Still we found ourselves enjoying the energy. But I wouldn’t go see them again.

David Bromberg at the Coach House





It has been at least 20 years since I’ve seen him and this could be the last time I see David Bromberg. It’s not because of anything he did, but because his audience, which was never large on the west coast, is even smaller today. Within seconds after stepping on stage, someone from the audience wanted to know why it has been so long since he has been here and that he needs to come back sooner. David looked around the 1/2 empty room and wondered aloud if he was going to be asked back. “Airplane tickets are pretty expensive these days”. With that he preceded to demonstrate how an artist can put together a set of diverse music (from bluegrass to electric blues, from country to 30’s folk). It was an amazing night of music. With his four piece band (guitar, bass, drums and violin) behind him, David played nothing I recognized and everything I loved. His fiddle player, all of 23 years old, was fantastic (“Stop applauding him, he is too young”), drums and bass were solid and his guitar player may have been a better guitarist than David (so said David who then waked off stage to give him his solo and said, “It better be F***ing great!” It was). David Bromberg with that northern soul voice, still sings about the follies of love. And when he does, you never seem to be too far from a humorous moment. The audience seem to love the bluegrass moments the most, but I loved the blues songs (when he picked up the electric guitar). I would love to hear more of that, but as I said, I still loved everything about the show. I sure hope he finds his way back here some day.


Judy Collins and Amy Speace at the Coach House



The truth is, I only went to the show to see Kenny White, who was on the original bill. It turns out that even before he was told (Kenny is on Judy’s label), they decided put Amy Speace on the bill. Although I missed all of Kenny’s shows out west, it was great to find a new artist to enjoy. Amy is a wonderful entertainer, making us laugh, and singing songs that immediately struck a chord with me. I can’t wait to delve more into her music.
I was surprised by Judy Collins.



At 71, she stood in high heals for most of the hour and a half show, playing guitar and backed by piano. Her voice is like that of a 30 year old’s. She treated the show much like a Broadway performance, telling her history in song, giving us lots of stories and performing many snippets of songs a cappella. It is one of the great voices in folk/rock history and along with the wonderful stories made me glad that I finally saw her in concert.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Neil Finn at Largo

This was our makeup show. Neil, the gentleman that he is, put us on the list for Sunday night’s show after the problems we had at the Crowded House concert in San Diego. And what a great way to say I’m sorry. Both shows (Saturday and Sunday) were sold out and with the room only seating about 220 people you can imagine how tough it was to get a ticket.
I have seen Neil with a band, with his brother Tim and with Crowded House. This was my first solo (although he wasn’t alone all night) show. What a treat it was to just see him. But, Neil is Neil. If you’ve seen him perform, you know, it really doesn’t matter who is around him. He is up there putting on a show and having lots of fun. The first hour or so of the set was dedicated to rarities; songs he hasn’t sung in years. Not owning everything Neil, I’m not sure I recognized a single song. But it didn’t matter. He is such a talented songwriter, all of the songs were instantly enjoyable.
The show kicked into a higher gear when he brought out Jon Brion to accompany him. Jon is himself pretty amazing. Bouncing between piano and guitar he played some fantastic licks throughout the evening. Taking it up a notch, Neil brought out Grant-Lee Phillips. I’m not sure which was the bigger highlight for me, Grant-Lee singing harmonies on “Only Talking Sense” or trading lead vocals on “Four Seasons in One Day”. Neil also brought out Sebastian Steinberg on upright bass and a drummer who’s name I missed.
Maybe the biggest surprise that evening was the computer. Given that Largo is so anti electronics (phones/cameras/etc.) I was shocked that they actually had an Internet connection. Next thing we know, Neil is calling Tim on Skype and after chatting for awhile, Tim and friends in NZ were performing with Neil and friends in L.A. It was pretty amazing and worked really well.
The evening pretty much ended with covers. First the Talking Heads classic, “Road to Nowhere” and coming back for their encore with David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”.
And I can't end this without talking about some of the funny moments. The sound guy, Jesse, had to come down from the balcony to adjust the microphone so that Neil wasn’t playing his mandolin, uhmmm, between his legs (that turned into a very funny moment as I’m sure you can imagine). Grant-Lee bopped onto stage and when asked if he knew the song they were about to play, said, “No” and then bopped off again. He also showed his willingness to serve Neil, dropping to his knees to sing into the guitar mic when it appeared there wasn’t a microphone for him. It was that kind of evening. One I’ll remember for a long time.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

New Music for September 2010

Yes, I’m a big Sam Phillips fan. I’ve seen her over a dozen
times during the last 6 years and had many conversations with her and her band members. When it comes to talking about her music on this blog it definitely overshadows the other reviews. For those of you who don’t think that’s right, I’m sorry. I just love talking about Sam. And so, first up, Sam.

Sam Phillips - Days of the One Night Stands (2010)
This is the last EP in Sam’s Long Play Project (there is a final digital CD coming in October or November). It is hard to believe a year has passed since Sam announced this at her show in Santa Monica. The output of music this year is by far the most we have ever seen from Sam. This final EP is a group of covers. She opens with a “late night” version of the Monkees (actually Boyce and Hart wrote this) “...Stepping Stone” with a cool guitar solo from Eric. “Lying” is a Sam Phillips cover (yes she covers herself twice on this CD) with maybe the most vibrant, rock and roll solo on a SP song since the 90’s. Eric’s blistering violin solo takes this beautiful version of “Lying” to new heights. I have been waiting for a recorded version of “Green Grass”, a song originally written and recorded by Tom Waits, for five years now. Sam’s version is breathtaking, and the studio version is even better than the live versions I’ve seen over the years. Sam donated “Where is Love Now” to Jimmy Dale Gilmore and has finally done her own version of it. This version so overwhelms Jimmy’s I’m considering deleting his mp3 from my collection (just joking, but it is that good). And finally, Sam covers an old 30’s song, “Undecided”, from Django Reinhardt, turning it into a Sam Phillips song. What a wonderful collection of songs. And as this project rolls to an end, one can’t help think how Sam seems to have covered all of the areas that we have been craving over the years. She did this without compromise; one of the few true artists recording today. Thank you Sam for everything. If you haven’t signed up for The Long Play, you still can.

Last month I added a bunch of music to the station and didn’t have time to write, so briefly...

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Mojo (2010)
This is a live in the studio type CD and although on first listen you might now find the “hit”, just keep listening. It is worth the wait.
Squeeze - Spot the Difference (2010)
This is a money thing, but we all get the benefit. Squeeze has gotten back together to re-record their hits so that they will get performance royalties when they are used for movies. You can’t blame them in this time of lower incomes for performers. They decided to make the songs spot on the same as the originals, even digging up old equipment to get the right sound (hence the title “Spot the Difference”). It is always fun to listen to Squeeze, so... enjoy.
The Innocence Mission - My Room in the Trees (2010)
They have barely changed over the last 15 years or so, and that’s a good thing. There are some surprises in this CD, but mostly it is Karen’s beautiful voice with the flowing innocence of the mission backing it up. Pure beauty.
Crowded House - Intriguer (2010)
They have yet to release a bad CD. The highlight here is a wonderful song called “Amsterdam”; worth the price of admission. It may not be their best, but it is better than almost everything else out there.
Flogging Molly - Live at the Greek (2010)
From a show recorded last year at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, this IS Flogging Molly. No studio CD can capture the raw craziness of their live shows. These are two CDs that will make you want to order a glass of Guinness.
Walt Cronin - California - I Gotta Run (2010)
On his third release Walt continues his folk/Americana singing/songwriting. A storyteller like Kris Kristoffersen, this is an album about being on the road and pursuing dreams. Nice job. http://www.thegousters.com/
Handful of Luvin’ - Life Inbetween (2010)
I really am having trouble describing this band. Is it modern rock? Or is it country? Is that a violin player or a fiddle player (there is a difference)? Whatever it is, it works and they have delivered one of the more original CDs of the year. Do check them out at http://www.handfulofluvin.com/fr_introduction.cfm .
Gaslight Anthem - American Slang (2010)
Think a rocking Jesse Malin and you have a good idea what this excellent CD sounds a bit like. Worth checking out, especially since it has The Boss’ seal of approval on it. :-)
John Mellencamp - No Better Than This (2010)
Using a tape recorder, a single mic and the brilliance of T-Bone Burnett, John channels his inner John Prine (or is it Bob Dylan as many like to say). This CD is not for everyone, but if you like your singers with good words and light production, with a low-res feel and an Americana spirit, then this CD is for you.
Peter Case - Wig (2010)
Peter Case is rockin’ again and this quickly recorded roots rock/Americana CD shows why Peter Case has been an important part of the musical landscape since he first appeared 30 plus years ago. This is a Yep Roc records release; always a good sign that you’re going to hear some great music.
Pernice Brothers - goodbye, killer (2010)
Do you know who the Pernice Brothers are? You should. One of the finest pop rock bands around, they combine great lyrics with catchy tunes. Isn’t that why we love rock and roll?

Music Hall Link - Cowboy Junkies 4-1-1996 listen