Lucid Culture


Album of the Day 11/24/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Wednesday’s album is #797:

Lefty Frizzell – 16 Biggest Hits

Lefty Frizzell was a legendary Texas honkytonk singer from the 50s, a guy who sounded a lot older than he was. By the 70s, now in his 40s, he sounded close to 70. One of the songs here, an early proto-rockabilly number, is titled Just Can’t Live That Fast (Any More), but in real life he didn’t seem to have any problem with that. He drank himself to death at 47 in 1975. But he left a rich legacy. This album is missing some of his best-known songs – notably Cigarettes & Coffee Blues – but it’s packed with classics. Frizzell’s 1950 version of If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time topped the country charts and beat Hank Williams – a frequent tourmate – at his own game. Other 50s hits here include the western swing-tinged Always Late (With Your Kisses), the fast shuffle She’s Gone, Gone, Gone and Frizzell’s iconic version of Long Black Veil – with its echoey, ghostly vocals and simple acoustic guitar, it’s even better than the Johnny Cash version. From the 60s, there’s the surprisingly folkie version of Saginaw Michigan, the sad drinking ballad How Far Down Can I Go, the torchy, electric piano-based That’s the Way Love Goes and I’m Not the Man I’m Supposed to Be. His later period is best represented by I Never Go Around Mirrors, later covered by both George Jones and Merle Haggard. This is one of those albums that pops up in used vinyl stores from time to time, but isn’t easy to find online. There’s a popular “500 greatest country songs” torrent with several of these on it out there; if you see one for this particular album, let us know!

November 24, 2010 Posted by | country music, lists, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Big Nowhere – Pull Down the Moon

This project started when Billy Crowe, late of UK goth/shoegaze act Summersalt and Simon Sinclair of edgy Glasgow funk band Brown Eye Superfly decided to join forces and combine the songs that for one reason or another didn’t fit in with either of their other projects. The first question that comes to mind here is that this might be a parody. Well, maybe a little. The Big Nowhere fall somewhere between the Nashville gothic of the Dead Cowboys, the over-the-top C&W silliness of David Allan Coe  and the deadpan, straight-up country satire of Uncle Leon & the Alibis. Musically, they manage to be simultaneously true to their influences (the usual suspects: Hank, Johnny, Lefty) while adding a completely unexpected playfulness. For example, the lead instrument on Why Won’t You Make My Telephone Ring is a reverby Vox organ, hardly something you’d hear on a Nashville session from 1955.

The cd opens very cleverly with Some Kind of Sickness, a dead-on evocation of an old 78 right down to the scratches across the grooves and the unmistakable quaver of a warp in the record. I Promise You Honey I Was Out with the Guys sets the tone for much of the rest of the album, mostly acoustic and completely deadpan, produced with care and good taste yet spiked with a pingy little electric guitar part that would sound vastly more at home on, say, an early 10,000 Maniacs album. I Got Love nicks the melody of the oldies radio chestnut Help by Bobby Bare, strips away the cliches and actually makes it palatable. Last Night with Lucy-Anne reverts to a musically straight-up but lyrically tongue-in-cheek feel.

A horn section, of all things, kicks off the 6/8 ballad Johnny Walker Red, which starts out sad but doesn’t stay that way long. On Untitled Satan Song, the narrator addresses the man with the forked tongue and the tail with the utmost respect even though he stole the poor guy’s girl (maybe he doesn’t want to end up where she’s going). By contrast, the murder ballad My Name Is Bob Willis, complete with police radio sample, is stark and haunting. Song for Suzannah takes the point of view of someone on the receiving end of the gun, with a neat trick ending. The album tails off toward the end, but overall it’s a lot of fun, more so the more closely you listen.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. at Banjo Jim’s, NYC 10/4/07

Strange things happen when you don’t see a band for a couple of years. Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. used to be a loose, improvisational unit playing old country covers. Good players, good choice of material, better than a lot of the competition, but otherwise pretty indistinguishable from the rest of the Pete’s Candy Store contingent. How times change. Fast forward to 2007: they’ve gone into a time warp and emerged in 1953, right before rockabilly took off. Now the band has matching suits, period set pieces with graphics and typefaces straight out of the early 50s and what sounds like cleverly scripted, faux-corny between-song banter. These guys put on a show and, mercy, they’re pretty darned good. Their originals sound like country standards from fifty years ago and the upright bass player swings like hell. He doesn’t push the beat like so many bluegrass and oldtimey cats do. The band doesn’t have a drummer but they don’t really need one. The lead singer (Amy Rigby’s brother, formerly of the Last Roundup) really has a handle on 50s hillbilly dance tunes, playing a lot of jazzy licks on his big beautiful hollowbody Gibson in addition to the expected country twang. And they’re funny: two of the originals they played tonight were titled Don’t Try This at Home (a bouncy, cornball number) and I Hate You (expansive and jazz-inflected, with a great lyric). And they clearly have a good time doing their shtick. See them at Rodeo Bar if you get the chance. You’ll get your money’s worth, no doubt about it.

October 9, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment