Archive for Jerry Wexler

Review: “Willie and the Wheel,” Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel

Posted in Review with tags , , on February 9, 2009 by 30daysout

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Man, music doesn’t get any more fun than this.  American master musician Willie Nelson singing a selection of Western Swing classics accompanied by Texas swingers Asleep at the Wheel – an unlikely union, to be sure.  But this union was envisioned and engineered by master producer Jerry Wexler, who died last year.  He was able to hear the result of this bit of genius before he passed, thank god.  From the first licks of opener “Hesitation Blues” to the closer “Won’t You Ride In My Little Red Wagon,” this album rocks.  Many of these songs were made famous by people like Bob Wills and Spade Cooley way back in the Depression – so what better timing to bring ’em back, eh?  You realize Nelson could have been a big star back then, or in any era: his lazy, jazzy vocals fit perfectly as the music lopes from Western swing to Dixieland to straight jazz.  The Wheel’s steel guitarist Bob Rivers shines throughout, and he even holds his own against guest stars Vince Gill and Paul Shaffer on the instrumental “South.”  And Elizabeth McQueen of the Wheel gets her own spotlight in a duet with Willie on “I’m Sittin’ On Top Of The World,” the album’s highlight.  Is there anything Willie Nelson can’t do?  Well, maybe reggae … but Willie and the Wheel is a delight, it’s the first must-have album of the year.

MP3: “Hesitation Blues”

Willie and the Wheel official website

Lost Classics! McGuinn, Clark & Hillman

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , on January 21, 2009 by 30daysout

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In the late 1970s, country rock had pretty much run the course – the Eagles had appropriated the best parts of the genre and their watered down music reigned from the top of the charts.  The true innovators like Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark and Chris Hillman of the Byrds were left to cash in endlessly on their past reputations by playing their old songs as part of ridiculous package tours.

That’s where these boys found themselves in 1977, fronting their respective bands on a European jaunt.  The promoter had visions of people coming out in hopes of seeing a reunion; it didn’t happen for the most part, but the three did get together in London and that show was heavily bootlegged.  Gene Clark, although he had the best voice of the three, was the most unstable – he had legendary bouts of stage fright and an overwhelming inferiority complex that led him to quit the Byrds years before.

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Famed Producer Jerry Wexler dies at 91

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 15, 2008 by 30daysout

Jerry Wexler, the man who coined the phrase “R&B” and help launch the careers of Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and many others at Atlantic Records, died today at age 91. Check out the rest of the story from the Associated Press. Wexler is featured in the excellent documentary about late producer Tom Dowd called “Tom Dowd and the Language of Music.” It has been playing on the Indepedent Film Channel (IFC) this month, so check it out if you get a chance.