As is my want, I’ll be peppering my M reviews with occasional recent purchases from preceding letters.
My US intro into the recent works of Ms. Golightly, means I do keep eye out for cheap discs from her back catalogue.
While my sense, HG jumps around genres at will, this album from 2000 isn’t too far removed from her current hillbilly schtick. It’s definitely at the retro, rootsy lo-fi end of the spectrum.
There’s an energetic bluesy feel to the treble-heavy guitar work, and Holly’s vocals hold their own against occasional sweeps of Hawaiian guitar and quite a lot of reverb:
Golightly makes this particular genre look (and sound) extremely easy, but the familiarity and intimacy is a relatively rare thing. Most importantly she avoids sounding too backward-looking or precious in recreating a simpler, more plaintive yet painful style of music:
I’ll definitely be seeking out more from her oeuvre. Anyone got any recommendations?
File under: What would God know?
Holly and her buddy Lawyer Dave (how’s that for an anachronistic name for a purported hillbilly?) continue on their merry way with this 2011 album.
One again the schtick is rural, rebellious and ‘down home’. And again, they go damn close to pulling it off.
This was the album they were showcasing when I caught them live, so it’s fun to have the backstories to a few of the standout tracks. For example, knowing that Burn, oh junk pile, burn is about a crazy former neighbour with a penchant for Xmas day bonfires, make me delight more in the wordplay and playfulness. The Hawaiian guitar on said track also adds (in a bizarre fashion) to the off-centre, gothic vibe of patches of this album).
Again, the three or four standout tracks on here are absolute rippers for the genre, such as the title track, L.S.D (Rock’n’Roll Prison), and their latest effort at bating god botherers, Lord knows we’re drinking.
The rest of the tunes are little too laid back for my liking (actually ‘loving’… I do like them). Nevertheless, this makes for a great Sunday arvo, beer on the balcony listen (although I feel I should have a shotgun on my lap, rather than this damn computer thingy).
File under: Self reliant
One Friday night in NYC, while the missus was off gallivanting in London, I jumped the L-Train over to Brooklyn to check out Ms Golightly.
I had a recollection of said lady singing on a White Stripes album and one by the Greenhornes, and being name-checked regularly as a righteous and prolific babe in the serious UK music press, but couldn’t have told you much more about her oeuvre.
To my delight I discovered she is in middle of a serious hillbilly, rootsy phase. She has teamed up with a mightily hirsute bloke he plays a mean slide and pedal steel, and they have cobbled together a songbook full of front porch laments and songs screaming for some jugband accompaniment:
The vibe is very much Deliverance through rose-coloured glasses. The devil is the good guy, and Jesus ain’t no use. Alcohol is Medicine Water and Daddy seems like he’s a little more amorous than he should be.
These two make this genre seem easy and alluring, although there are a few too many lazy tracks in the middle that have me craving some hooch to liven it all up, but the album ends in a flourish and has me craving more woodsy, mountain action.
File under: Damn them gun control laws
Before we launch into the letter K, I need to catch you up on some recent purchases from the land of A-J.
Despite my pretty extensive Nick Cave collection, I was slow to jump on the Grinderman side-project. It was only when the band’s second album came out last month that I picked this up going cheap at JB HiFi. And was just the sort of raw rock I’d been looking for.
Over the years, I’ve found great joy in the moments when Nick and his highly talented buddies have reminded us that they can let it all hang out, that there doesn’t need to be too much structure, control or pretence to their sonic adventures. The sheer number of band members, and instruments (especially that piano) have made that a very tough balancing act in Bad Seed land.
The Grinderman set-up with its stripped line-up, and Nick on guitar, allows a lot more free-form, balls out, garage rock. It’s all rather rough and ready, but with that trademark Cave (and maybe Warren Ellis’ influence) tongue in cheek.
The song-writing (and tone) here has me thinking that Tex Perkins just realised that Nick could be him without trying very hard at all. Indeed, Tex has never delivered a song this good (and this ain’t the best track on the album):
File under: No pretence blues
Posted in G, Oz Artists
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Grinderman, music, music review, Nick Cave, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, No Pussy Blues, Tex Perkins, Warren Ellis
Jumping from one review to the next, it is hard not to make connections between the albums.
So, slipping this album out of the record stack and returning ‘Grease’ to its sleeve, I am predisposed to hear this LP as a retro effort.
I suspect that would have been the case irrespective. We jump forward from the cheesy early ’50s of slicked back hair and burgeoning sexual freedom, to the anything goes, lava-lamped, strobe-lit haze of the late 1960s.
The Greenhornes are a garage band with all the trimmings. They recreate the world where psychedelia meets British invasion, and nail the sound and vibe perfectly.
Put in an Australian context, these guys sound like a hybrid of Even, You Am I and Radio Birdman. So, it’s pretty tidy stuff and well worth throwing a stylus on.
The opener Satisfy My Mind is a pounding power-pop treat. The highlight involves a guest vocalist however. Holly Golightly pops in to deliver a perfect cameo on There is an End. It would serve as a perfect montage companion in some trippy ‘happening’:
File under: Cool phono
Posted in G, On Vinyl
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Even, Greenhornes, Holly Golightly, music, music review, Radio Birdman, You Am I
Fingers were pointed and accusations flew across the breakfast table this morn when I found this album in our vinyl collection.
My missus vehemently denies bringing this double-record set into the home, but I am damn sure I didn’t buy it. Irrespective of whether I’m right or she’s wrong, the album has been listened to repeatedly this afternoon.
Of course, most of these tunes are irrevocably etched in the skull of almost anyone born in the past 50 years. I actually saw the film at the cinema on first release around 1979 (not long after I saw Star Wars on the big screen). I seem to remember thinking it was a little racy and that the music was loads of fun.
31 years later, listening to the 24 tracks with a reasonably open mind, and treating the album as a set of showtunes, I must say it’s a pretty solid album. The stand-out tracks don’t feature the leads, but rather are tongue in cheek and a bit ‘adult’.
The future First Lady is suitably salacious and snide on …Sandra Dee. Frankie Avalon is nasty on Beauty School Dropout.
The thrill for me has been reacquainting myself with the silliness that is retro-champs Sha Na Na. They cover ’50s classic with aplomb. I distinctly remember the primetime show from these guys (a sort of cross between Sesame Street, Young Talent Time and Laverne and Shirley). I’d see them on stage before I’d bother with Grease:
File under: It’s the word
Posted in G, On Vinyl, Soundtrack, Various
Tagged album, album review, CD review, Frankie Avalon, Grease, John Travolta, music, music review, Olivia Newton-John, Sha Na Na, Soundtrack
Again, my alphabetisation skills are shown to be lacking. My excuse is that this resides down in the Soundtrack section.
This is the most ambitious soundtrack on the shelf.
Film director Terry Zwigoff engages in one of the most delightfully self-indulgent exercises I can recall. Just as the Steve Buschemi character in the film collects rare blues 78s, so does Zwigoff.
Thus this CD is an intriguing mix of such relics, plus some exotica from the Caribbean and India. Zwigoff also got a few jazz bands to recreate some songs he couldn’t license plus a few originals.
It all hangs together like the soundtrack to some grainy black and white archive piece that predates the talkies…
The track selection and sequencing is first-rate, apart from a couple of weird tracks – a rap from the film that is very grating, and a hilarious blues spoof Picking’ Cotton Blues that could easily have appeared on a Spinal Tap collection.
The absolute winner track is the opener, however, which is ridiculously infectious:
The CD would be worth it for that tune alone. The remaining rough diamonds are a big bonus.
File under: Spookily splendid
Perhaps this could be seen as the bridge between Guthrie and Guns n’Roses. Buddy busts out a riff like the best of them, but his songs come straight of the American songbook.
I think I need to be a bit more judicious in my blues CD purchases. This is yet another collection from an icon of the artform where he just trots out a pile of tunes we all know and does his subtle re-intrepretation thereof.
Some of the song selections are decidely unimaginative (I Put a Spell on You, Lay Lady Lay, On a Saturday Night). Buddy trots out his, well, buddies Carlos Santana, John Mayer and Keith Richards.
I am well aware that the blues ouevre is obsessed with the cover version, but it all comes across as pretty unadventurous and conservative.
Guy has some very audible strengths. His licks are clean and smooth. His voice has great depth and pacing. Having seen him on stage I can vouch for his presence and prowess.
I just think I should have picked up an album of originals.
File under: Trying Guy
The leap from the Gunners to Guthrie is an enormous one. From hair-obsessed bacchanalian rockers of the late 1980s to a politically active folk icon of the 30s and 40s.
But Guthrie was certainly a rabble-rouser and a big fan of life on the road.
We’ve seen a bit of his work around here as covered by others, but it’s enlightening to hear the man himself.
His song-writing is a real treat. He mixes the simple with the quite complex. He’s not afraid of some saucy innuendo.
Disappointingly this particular collection doesn’t have much of his political stuff. Also, the recording quality varies dramatically.
At its clearest and freshest he pretty much out-Dylans his apprentice Dylan, with similar phrasing and delivery. His guitar work is effective while sparse.
This is ‘roots’ music in the purest sense. This material has influenced so much of the music I’ve been reviewing on here, whether it be country or rockier singer-songwriter stuff.
It was a big thrill to find some live footage of the man himself:
And here’s a recent interpretation of said track by my recent mancrush Justin Townes Earle:
File under: Woody’s Wonder Years
You might think this is some embarrassing legacy of a misspent youth, but I actually bought this a year ago.
I’ve had a soft spot for Sweet Child O’Mine, and when I spied the CD in a discount bin I pounced.
Now I am but a tourist in the complex world of hair metal. But I did have a lengthy obsession with Van Halen in my teens, and a dalliance with Twisted Sister (the former will get a good run when I get to the V reviews. The latter were lost in the brutal cassette purge of 2001).
I know what I like in my lycra and leather-clad rock: screaming guitar solos, swagger, some big anthems, plus variety and humour.
This album has three big anthems – SCOM, Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City. The latter two have held up OK, but don’t have as much grunt or grime as I would like.
Where this album (and the band) fall down is the lack of smirks. These guys take themselves far too seriously. There is no experimentation, no sidesteps into other genres.
Sure Slash can ride a fretboard better than most, but he can’t sustain an album.
Thankfully Sweet Child is still an astounding feat of song-writing (and execution):
File under: One delicious morsel a feast does not make