Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dylan - the poet

Bob Dylan - Mr. Tambourine Man
from the album Bringing It All Back Home (Columbia, 1965)

One of Dylan's most familiar songs for most people. Made famous by the high flying Byrds. This is not my favourite Dylan song, I like it though, it has a great melody and it's catchy as hell. That said, the reason I have really really fallen in love with this song lately is that I've finally opened my ears to the lyrics and that's the reason for this post. Bob Dylan is one of the finest poets walking this planet and this is just one of his zillion great lyrics.

"..yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
with all the memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
let me forget about today until tomorrow.."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mixtapes: Crystal Canyon volume 2

The very first post on this blog was a mixtape that I made to celebrate the new blog. The plan always was to make some mixtapes and post on the blog every now and then, but it seems that this hasn't happened. Anyhow, with no further wait, here it finally is.

Crystal Canyon Volume II
(Heartworn Highways, 2009)

1. Ry Cooder - Boomer's Story
2. The Faces - Ooh La La
3. The Black Crowes - Good Friday
4. John Martyn - Over the Hill
5. Gene Clark - From A Silver Phial
6. John Prine - Angel From Montgomery
7. Todd Rundgren - Couldn't I Just Tell You
8. The Band - Whispering Pines
9. Grateful Dead - Operator
10. The Rolling Stones - Play With Fire
11. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Louisiana Rain

The mixtape is sadly only available to the folks that have Spotify. There may be some changes to that later, but alas for now that's the way it is. To listen click here: Crystal Canyon Volume II

A little about the songs:

Ry Cooder is a guy I have been neglecting for a long long time, but lately I've been listening to a lot of his stuff. This album, Boomer's Story (Reprise, 1972), stands out as a favourite for me. Great classic americana stuff.

Next up we have a bunch of talented, drunken englishmen. The fantastic and underrated band The Faces. Probably most famous for being the starting ground for both Rod Stewart and Ron Wood but the sadly overlooked Ronnie Lane was the real soul of the band. Check out this album, Ooh La La (Warner Bros., 1973), and also all of his solo records. And of course his former band, The Small Faces.

Then we move some years forward to a band that are clearly in debt to The Faces and almost all other acts on this mixtape. The Black Crowes, one of my absolute favourite bands. The way they borrow stuff from classic sixties and seventies rock but also the way they pay tribute to these acts by playing covers and praising them in interviews. Also, they really stand their ground as a band of their own of course. Their recently relased album Before The Frost.. ..Until The Freeze is really outstanding, more on that later. This song is from their album Three Snakes and One Charm (È, 1996).

John Martyn's "Over The Hill" is a song that I got from the solo acoustic album Brothers From a Feather from the Robinson brothers of The Black Crowes. A fantastic song from a great English folk singer/songwriter. The song is taken from the brilliant album Solid Air (Island, 1973).

Gene Clark, oh where should I begin. Maybe the best of all the songwriters in The Byrds. A truly fantastic songwriter and soulful singer. This song is from his masterpiece No Other (Asylum, 1974), one of my all time favourite albums.

The song "Angel From Montgomery" is just one of my favourites from John Prine's debut album John Prine (Atlantic, 1971). Equal parts Dylan and Kristofferson is maybe the best way to explain this outstanding songwriter.

Todd Rundgren, well what can I say. A truly great artist with a very eclectic output. When he is at his best like he was on the album Something/Anything? (Bearsville, 1972) it's pure genius.

The Band are long time favourites of mine, you can't go wrong with them. Either you want some rockers or some achingly beautiful ballads they've got them. A great example of the latter here from the album The Band (Capitol, 1969)

Then were off to say hello to my absolute favourite band, good ol' Greatful Dead. A great song from the fantastic album American Beauty (Warner Bros., 1970). The last song that the late great Ron "Pigpen" McKernan wrote and recorded with Grateful Dead.

The Rolling Stones always played with fire, here they are also singing about it. A great song from the album Out Of Our Heads (ABCKO, 1965)

To close the ball we have the great Tom Petty and his sidekicks The Heartbreakers. Even though they are most known for their rocking stuff they never strayed far from their southern roots. So here they are singing about the "Louisiana Rain" from the great album Damn The Torpedoes (MCA, 1979).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where she leads me I do not know..

Bob Dylan - Can't Leave Her Behind
(unreleased, 1966)

Stephen Malkmus & Lee Ranaldo - Can't Leave Her Behind
from the album I'm Not There (Columbia Original Soundtracks, 2007)

A great song this, don't even ask me how many times I've seen the youtube-clip from Eat the Document (1966) the last couple of weeks. The song has actually never been recorded or released by Dylan. Nevertheless Stephen Malkmus and Lee Ranaldo, with some help from Nels Cline, dug it up for the soundtrack to Todd Haynes Dylan biopic I'm Not There. They do the song more than justice and that's the version I first fell for. The Dylan version from Eat the Document is recorded in a hotelroom in Glasgow with Dylan singing the song to Robbie Robertson. Dylan sings it in the sort of crooner voice that he unleashed for the Nashville Skyline album in 1969. Maybe crooner is the wrong word, his voice sounds relaxed and both the delivery and the lyrics feel heartfelt.

Watch the Dylan version here:

Listen to the Stephen Malkmus/Lee Ranaldo version here:

Monday, September 7, 2009

I hear it's clear sailin' up ahead..

Chris Hillman - Clear Sailin'
(Asylum, 1977)

After I read Barney Hoskyns fantastic book Hotel California: Singer/songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons a couple of years ago I've been buying almost all albums I find that were released by David Geffen's label Asylum in the seventies. Artists like Eagles, Jackson Browne, John David Souther and Joni Mitchell filled up the roster. The mellow-mafia of the west-coast were born. So that is one reason for me buying this album, the other is of course that it's Chris Hillman.

Not exactly a unknown. Clear Sailin' is Hillman's second soloalbum. Fresh out of collaborations with John David Souther and Richie Furay in the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Hillman never was one of the most prolific songwriters out there and his solo records are inhibited because of this. In all his years in bands like The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Stephen Stills' Manassas his recorded output as a songwriter comes to about one album.

That said, his first solo record Slippin' Away was great and this one also has it's moments. Songs like "Fallen Favourites", "Hot Dusty Roads" and the title track "Clear Sailin'" are all great songs in the southern-California-mellow-life in the sun on the beach are great-slick-kind of way. Great harmonies and good melodies.

If you like bands like Firefall and the first albums by Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers you should check out this album.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New discovery

Anthony D'Amato - Shades of the Prison House
(Self-released, 2009)

Young mr. D'Amato is a talented singer/songwriter from New Jersey who has just released his second album called Shades of the Prison House. His great songs remind me of other young male songwriters like Patrick Park and Pete Yorn. D'Amato has been touring with the likes of Jesse Malin and Marah. The latest I heard Anthony could be found covering Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" with Nina Persson at the Everybody Knows This is Nowhere benefit in New York.

The album is packed full with acoustic guitars, fiddles and good melodies. A little country twang and a lot of good lyrics. The overall feel is one that fits perfectly now that autumn is upon us. Picture yourself walking down a crowded New York street with the streetlights lighting up the wet pavement. A totally impressive album that I've been listening to a lot lately. Especially the songs "NYC Song", "Skeleton Key" and "Hank Williams Tune" has really gotten under my skin. Anthony D'Amato could very well be the next big singer/songwriter to come out of the New Jersey shorelines. So if you live in New York be sure to check him out the next time you see his name up on the marquee. For the rest of us the album is out now.

Check him out on Myspace

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Doing the E-Street shuffle..?

Entry #4
Tuesday, September 1st

1. Pavement - Pueblo
from the album Wowee Zowee (Matador, 1995)

2. Tom Waits - Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)
from the album Closing Time (Asylum, 1973)

3. Whiskeytown - Somebody Remembers the Rose
from the album Strangers Almanac (Outpost, 1997)

4. The Subways - Rock & Roll Queen
from the soundtrack album Music from the O.C: Mix 5 (Warner Bros, 2005)

5. The Velvet Underground - All Tomorrow's Parties
from the boxset Peel Slowly and See (Polydor/Chronicles, 1995)