Archive for Ian Hunter

Review: Rockin’ the Fourth!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by 30daysout

Swingin’ into the Fourth of July weekend, we have a hurricane swirling off the Texas coast and a big black glob of goo lurking off Louisiana.  Meanwhile, in my own backyard, I’m grillin’ weenies!  What about you?  Here are a handful of new releases that will help you rock the Fourth no matter where you are or how you celebrate.

It borders on the criminal that Alejandro Escovedo isn’t a big star outside of Texas.  Here, he’s the hero of the Lone Star state – and his new Street Songs Of Love is a good example why.  Al follows his masterpiece Real Animal (from 2008) with a relaxed set of rockin’ ruminations on love and life that may just be among the best things he’s ever done.  The ringing anthem “Anchor” kicks off the proceedings, and the crunching guitars and big choruses that follow in song after song show that Escovedo isn’t afraid to stand toe to toe with the greatest classic rockers.  In fact, he does just that – trading verses with Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter on the tender “Down In the Bowery” and rocking out with Bruce Springsteen on “Faith,” Alejandro Escovedo shows why he is the king of Austin.  Street Songs Of Love is brilliantly produced by Tony Visconti, who worked with David Bowie and T. Rex back in the day.  Escovedo and his great band (including stellar guitarist David Pulkingham) sharpened these songs during a residency at Austin’s Continental Club, so they probably sound even better live.  Hands down, Street Songs Of Love is one of the best albums of the year.

MP3: “Street Songs” by Alejandro Escovedo

Last week we talked about all the artists with the blues all of a sudden, and now Austin guitar slinger Jimmie Vaughan drops Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites, an album that sounds for all the world like a roadhouse Saturday night.  Vaughan has stocked his album with 14 wild covers (and one original) that jump right out of the speakers: “The Pleasure’s All Mine,” shuffles into your consciousness with Vaughan’s rough singing and stinging guitar, then Lou Ann Barton lends harmony to Jimmy Reed’s “Come Love.”  Barton duets again with Jimmie on the old Dale and Grace swamp rocker “I’m Leaving It Up To You,” then she takes a lead vocal on the LaVerne Baker chestnut “Wheel Of Fortune.”  I don’t know how he does it, but Vaughan gives all of his albums this production that sounds like he’s playing right in your cramped living room – I love it.  Man, this is another great barbecue party record and one that I know I’ll be playing long after the summer’s over.

MP3: “I’m Leaving It Up To You” by Jimmie Vaughan (with Lou Ann Barton)

Upon listening to The Gaslight Anthem‘s new American Slang, most people (especially music critic types) will evoke the influences of Springsteen and Van Morrison.  They’re not incorrect in doing so, but Gaslight’s true heart beats to the rhythm and romance of old Sam Cooke and Drifters records, supercharged into brilliantly original rock by frontman and songwriter Brian Fallon.  In fact, Fallon has a way with a story that recalls the Bard of the Boardwalk but his songs add a street-soul tough-tenderness that evokes the best of Tom Waits.  It’s hard to single out one or two highlights on American Slang; it’s just a very consistent rock record that never fails to deliver.

MP3: “Stay Lucky” by The Gaslight Anthem

Go out and pick up any one, two or three of these albums and celebrate the Fourth with a rock and roll blast.  Who needs fireworks?

Lost Classics? The Pointer Sisters

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2009 by 30daysout

The Pointer Sisters had an enviable run at the top of the charts in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Their hits included “Neutron Dance” and the most famous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire.”  The albums that all of these songs appeared on were produced by 1970s über-producer Richard Perry.   One of the most successful music producers ever, Perry was no stranger to the upper reaches of the charts – he produced the hit albums Ringo (1973) for Ringo Starr, No Secrets (1972) for Carly Simon and many others.

Oddly, one Pointer Sisters album with Perry at the helm made no impression at all – in fact, when Priority was released in 1979, it disappeared virtually without a trace.  The sisters were still riding high off the No. 1 smash “Fire” and its album Energy from the previous year when Perry took them into the studio for this followup.

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Reviews: Down-Home Music

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 30, 2009 by 30daysout

Cover edit              Cover

Ever have one of those days when you’re tired of rock and roll?  Maybe the day you took that Chickenfoot CD home, listened and said “eh.”  It might be time to get back to yer roots, boy. 

Levon Helm has released his second album since beating throat cancer, and Electric Dirt couldn’t be a more appropriate title.  This sequel to his acclaimed Dirt Farmer album is more, ah, electric, with joyous covers of blues and gospel and a detour through the Louisiana swamplands.  Kicking off with a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed,” the album’s first half recreates some of Farmer‘s Appalachian feel, with a highlight coming in the earthy “Growing Trade,” a sad tale about the American farmer.  But with the Allen Toussaint-arranged “Kingfish” (a Randy Newman song about the infamous Huey P. Long), Helm steers into the same territory covered by the Band in their heyday.  Unlike Elvis Costello’s current dead-on-arrival roots exercise, Electric Dirt is the real deal.

MP3: “When I Go Away” by Levon Helm

Son Volt is one of the bands that rose from the ashes of Americana darlings Uncle Tupelo, and their newest, American Central Dust plows the same rich earth as Levon’s Americana.  And with the gently loping “Roll On” or the safely rockin’ “Jukebox Of Steel,” Son Volt doesn’t stray far from their strengths.  You can always bet frontman Jay Farrar will crank out a few gems per album, and he doesn’t disappoint: “Dust Of Daylight” and the aforementioned titles are worth hitting the repeat button for.

MP3: “Roll On” by Son Volt

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