This was the first BT album I bought. Listening to it in the context of it’s predecessors highlights what a huge leap it was for the band.
From the opening track it is obvious we are listening to a new and exciting Buffalo Tom. Staples is confident and measured, and substantially better than anything they’d recorded before. The drums are more powerful. The guitars are so swirling and layered that it is stunning they were still a trio.
The band then step it up further with their breakthrough single, the magnificent Taillights Fade. In case, you’ve somehow never heard the tune, here’s the vid:
The song’s a winner, and captures the sound of the album very well.
There is more killer on here. Velvet Roof ranks alongside the two aforementioned tunes as their best work. Porchlight mines a similar rich vein. Appropriately, so does Mineral.
What made the difference? The production is more sympathetic to the slower tempoed tunes. The vocals are less strained and more emotive. The lead guitar work is often more lyrical.
The album isn’t perfect. There is a slight sameness to several tracks. But it still stands out as an all-time fave for me.
File under: An invitation that is hard to resist
The last disc from the box set gets a spin.
I travelled north a few years (2004) back to see James Brown live at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest (As an aside, my missus was very surprised to see him on the bill. She thought he was dead!). We endured some seriously rib-impinging crowd crush up close to the stage in anticipation (as well as a pretty lame Max Merritt set).
It was well worth the wait. At 70 years plus, he was still able to belt out some grunts and wiggle his hips. In the end, of course, much of his appeal lies in the groove laid down by his ever-growing band and choristers. I suspect he could have phoned in the vocals with out much complaint from the crowd.
To some extent that is what is going on with this final disc in the box set. JB is going through the motions on the majority of tracks. He also seems less confident in the material on occassions and more prone to imitation of new contenders.
This is most noticeable on Public Enemy #1, which sounds like an attempt to match Wonder, Hayes and Gaye. There is still some killer (e.g. the two versions of The Payback – the latter with Afrika Bambaataa), but it is clear the best was behind him.
I hate to end on a negative, so instead will leave you with a great dance lesson from Soul Brother Number One:
File under: I don’t know karate, but I do know ka-razy
Sorry for silence – I was interstate for work (and with James Brown for company).
By CD number three, JB has got almost too funky for his own good.
This album is a fiesta of multi-movement pieces. Five out of the 14 tracks clock in at over 5 mins, 4 at over 7 mins. The man has moved beyond normal pop song constraints into a world of musical mastery. This is the foundations on which the lunacy and other worldness of Parliament and Funkadelic (I guess that’s the Bootsy Collins connection).
His band is just outstanding, responding to his commands, understanding his various grunts and signals, and laying down grooves that rise and full and bubble along in such a timeless fashion. The horns are sharp, fast and sexy. Again, this is rich pickings for samplers wanting an infectious hook.
Sorry Andy, I do think Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine is Brown’s true masterpiece, and it sits perfectly here between Funky Drummer and Super Bad (Parts 1 & 2). But let’s have some dialogue here. Which do you all prefer?
Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine
In a race I would back Disc 2 as slightly more diverse than this volume, but you won’t find too much to complain about here.
File under: Jump back and kiss yourself
How appropriate that this blog should hit triple figures with a killer release that so confidently swaggers through the rock’n’roll oeuvre.
This album sees Dan Brodie delivering on his promise. He hardly takes a wrong step.
The opening track is flawless – slow vocal-heavy intro cataloguing the status of his family members and his own trials with the bottle, a plea to Jesus Try and Save Me, drums kick in, addition of important rider to title “(from myself)”. This CD is the one where Brodie transforms from Ryan Adams clone to the next Steve Earle. It’s all tales of a slightly lawless life on road breaking hearts and facing inevitable reciprocity.
Take a Bullet is even better and should have been a huge hit. He probably didn’t do himself any favours with this video (which muddies up the mix in the name of art – but also captures my typical reaction when hearing it – i.e. singing along):
In searching for that vid I found one of his first album which is better (and in a century-acknowledging indulgence I have added it into yesterday’s review)
This clips a ripper though:
There are several more stand out tracks on this album and I cannot recommend it highly enough. As a sad footnote, I awaited his next release with much hop, attended the CD launch and was mightily disappointed. He went all soft and MOR and he won no custom from me.
File under: Brylcreemed bluesy rock brilliance
I had a big soft spot for the work on Dan Brodie for several years. He was a bit of an outlier on the Melbourne pub scene, strongly wedded to a country-blues ethos.
This was his first full-length release, and does a reasonable job of capturing his life persona, although the recording leaves a bit of the energy and rawness out.
Brodie could be described as the Aussie Ryan Adams, as he shows enormous passion for the roots of country-rock, and also portrays a life filled with misadventures in love. Brodie lacks some of Adams’ songwriting acumen, but also a whole lot less of the pretension. His tales are very likable and honest.
The title track is a good rollicking life tale (of following in his dad’s musical footsteps). Ride On is the rockingest effort and presages his greater confidence and where’s his strengths really lie – in almost Hank Williams-esque honky tonk.
There are a few too many forgettable tracks on here for this be a real fave, but Brodie certainly showed a lot of promise.
Here’s the standout track in thigh-slapping living colour (yeeeeehaaaaa):
File under: A rising star