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Old 09-06-2009, 09:36 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Thanks for the recs, mate. I'll give 'em a go.

Also, anyone can respond if they're interested, lol. My country boots aren't well worn, and anyone's welcome to help me.
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Old 10-02-2009, 08:41 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Live At Gilley's
Johnny Lee
1999

Though this album was released in 1999, it was actually all of Johnny Lee's live perfomances in Gilley's club from 1980-1988, but when Mickey Gilley and the co-owner of the club weren't getting along, Gilley hoarded the tapes for a while before releasing them. Its actually lucky he did this, because right after he took out the recordings, Gilley's burned down and all of the music would have been lost.

Johnny Lee's two biggest hits (in my opinion) are on this album, "Lookin' for Love" and "Cherokee Fiddle". Both songs were made famous from publicity on the movie Urban Cowboy because of its setting at Gilley's. This album has someting special about it, and I think it is because the music is so genuine. It is this way because of the circumstances in which it was performed, played for everyone live at Gilley's the biggest honky tonk in the U.S at that time.

Johnny Lee's style is very low-key, smooth, and cool. Don't expect any wild wails, intense guitar solos, or anything like that. Johnny Lee keeps a solid beat and concentrates on the words he's singing. His music is actually pretty great to dance to.

1. Lookin' for Love In this song, Johnny simply tells of his struggle to find love and his constant search of someone looking for him.

"I spent a lifetime lookin' for you
Single bars and good time lovers were never true
Playing a fools game, hopin' to win
Tellin' those sweet lies and losin' again.

I was lookin' for love in all the wrong places
Lookin' for love in too many places
Searchin' her eyes, lookin' for traces
Of what I'm dreamin' of
Hoping to find a friend and a lover
I'll bless the day I discover,
You - lookin' for love.

I was alone then, no love in site
I did every thing I could to get me through the night
Don''t know where it started or where it might end
I'd turn to a stranger just like a friend.
"

2. Bet Your Heart on Me
3. Sometimes

4. Cherokee Fiddle
I absolutely love this song. Johnny expresses his unsettling sadness about the changing times. In the beginning, he describes an old fiddle player with a love of music and how he would play for the miners just for whiskey. Then the times change:

"Now the Indians are dressing up like cowboys
And the cowboys are putting leather and turquoise on
And the music is sold by lawyers
And the fools who fiddled in the middle of the stations are gone
"

and he fears that the good genuine music the man played is all but history.

5. Be There for Me Baby
6. One in a Million
7. Prisoner of Hope
8. Pickin' Up Strangers
9. Down and Dirty
10. Highways Run Forever
11. Red Sails in the Sunset
12. Sea Cruise



http://www.mediafire.com/file/e2myn2woojj/Cherokee Fiddle.m4a
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Old 10-03-2009, 04:25 AM   #33 (permalink)
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This is a damn fine thread on country music. My favorites are Tammy Wynette, Steve Young, Johnny Cash, Jimmie Rodgers (the Yodeling Brakeman), Steve Earle, Townes Van Zant, George Jones, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Roy Acuff. I don't listen to as much country music as I used to because Nashville has gone pop and country music doesn't sound like country music anymore.
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Old 10-04-2009, 12:08 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin B. View Post
This is a damn fine thread on country music. My favorites are Tammy Wynette, Steve Young, Johnny Cash, Jimmie Rodgers (the Yodeling Brakeman), Steve Earle, Townes Van Zant, George Jones, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Roy Acuff. I don't listen to as much country music as I used to because Nashville has gone pop and country music doesn't sound like country music anymore.
Thanks Gavin. Not a bad list either. Tammy Wynette is pretty great. Staaaaaand by yourrr maaaan, give him two arrrrrrrrrms to cling tooooo. Your welcome to add your own reviews if you ever feel the desire. There is still a plethora of classic country artists out there that I have never heard of, and would like to. I've heard the name Woody Guthrie alot, but never knew where to start. Is he of any relation to Arlo Guthrie?
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Old 10-04-2009, 01:11 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Everyone should listen to Gavin B, for he knows where it's at - Townes Van Zandt is definitely one of the most hideously overlooked singer-songwriters of all time. Which reminds me, I should post my review here sometime soon. I got half-way through finishing it and got distracted, so I'll see if I can finish tomorrow, if not a bit later tonight.

Haven't heard of Johnny Lee before, but from the sounds of your review he's from a similar kinda musical ballpark to Van Zandt and Gene Clark - another favourite of mine. Great review, looking forward to the next one.
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Old 10-04-2009, 02:04 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Bugger it, I'll post it now...

Townes Van Zandt
Our Mother the Mountain
1969

1. Be Here to Love Me
2. Kathleen
3. She Came and She Touched Me
4. Like A Summer Thursday
5. Our Mother The Mountain
6. Second Lover's Song
7. St. John The Gambler
8. Tecumseh Valley
9. Snake Mountain Blues
10. My Proud Mountains
11. Why She's Acting This Way


For my contribution to this lovely thread, I'll be highlighting a certain Townes Van Zandt. Boasting a relatively large discography and a very faithful following (which included a lot of his fellow poets, singers and songwriters, particularly in country and folk circles), the fact that, throughout his short career, mainstream success had eluded in both long and extended play format saw him considered as one of the original cult artists. Anyway, it's this, his second LP release, that gets my official seal of recommendation, partly because I don't have much else by him, but also because of reasons I intend to go into right about now.

In a nutshell, the reason Mr Van Zandt here can claim a place among my favourite country singer-songwriters is that, from what I've heard, he reminds me a lot of the early work of Leonard Cohen and John Wesley Harding-era Bob Dylan. I love both those things so this is, of course, good news. In fact, were it not for the distinctive kind of country twang and Van Zandt's beautiful, soaring vocal, Be Here To Love Me would sound exactly like something off of one of those albums. He's a man with the flair for a good lyric of Cohen and Dylan, what with the gorgeously dark little nuggets like this...

Quote:
Children are dancin', the gamblers are chancin' their all
The window's accusing the door of abusing the wall
But who cares what the night watchmen say
The stage has been set for the play
Hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today
Dunno what's up with the video though. When the songs come off as a glorious, despairing whole, what you get is a sound that's not too far removed from gothic/alternate country (at least to these ears), which is quite something seeing as this was released in 1969. In fact, the whole mood of the album and a lot of Van Zandt's music can be summed up by the opening lines of the string-laden Kathleen - it's plain to see the sun won't shine today, but I ain't in the mood for sunshine anyway - setting us up for a fragile, delicate little song.

From such a gloomy opening salvo, things take a turn for the slightly more upbeat with a couple of nice, cute lovesongs, the first of these being the livelier She Came and She Touched Me, followed by the pensive, Dylanesque Like a Summer Thursday. Despite the lack of the particularly miserable vibe of the songs before them, it's Van Zandt's clear, smooth and spectacular voice and clever lyrical wordplay which keeps them on the same tracks, and such is the common strength of this album.

As the title cut, Our Mother the Mountain serves as a spectacular, 'this album by the numbers' kind of song - the intelligent, yarn-spinning lyric about how you should 'watch who you're lovin'', that kind of addictive, finger-picking motif on Van Zandt's acoustic guitar and the colours that the occasional entry of a flute into the sonic picture adds. It's the same kind of story with the gorgeous, string-laden Second Lover's Song - the way the odd swathes of flute in the mix add a whole lot of colour to a brilliant and sorrowful song which has a near perfect opening in the shape of these lines...

Quote:
You're walkin' next to me
Tears splash across the sun
You whisper soft to me
That I ain't the only one
St John the Gambler is another slow, finger-picking tune coloured by the seamless combination of Van Zandt's piercing, melancholy vocal trademark and the string arrangements, punctuated by the unmistakeably-folky use of harmonica. Tecumseh Valley, covered by a certain Nancy Griffith among many others, is one of the classics of country-folk, with a distinctive kind of country twang about the whole thing and a very Dylanesque use of the harmonica once again. Basically, it ranks among my favourite songs of all time and is definitely a highlight.

Snake Mountain Blues, as the title may suggest, is easily the most up-tempo, bluesy (oddly enough) song on show here, and adds another pretty interesting angle to the album as a whole. My Proud Mountains, on the other hand, steers the album back in the direction of the country-folk crossover sound that dominates it, with its use of simple, folky chord progressions and country slide guitars to add to the sonic picture. Not quite as interesting as most of the album, but a good number nonetheless. To wrap things up, Why She's Acting This Way serves as a superb way to sum up what kind of album I've just spent talking about - a superb little folk song with the added touches of what sounds like a church organ and the flute to give off an interesting juxtaposition of sounds working so well together. Again, as with the rest of the album, the lyrics are brilliance on a stick too, opening with this little nugget...

Quote:
Like silent she stands
Like laughter she falls
From a castle of sand
Like a memory she crawls
And the mockingbirds grieve
'cause they can't make her cry
They'll soon start to believe
That the lady has died
What it all goes to show
It ain't my job to say
For who am I to know
Why she's actin' this way
It's what makes this album so worthwhile and leaves it in among my favourite ever country albums for sure. While it certainly sounds a lot more like folk so isn't traditional by any means, with its very forward thinking, sort of proto-gothic Americana vibes, if you go by defining country music as something that speaks for and of the country and has the right kind of vibe about it, here's another classic country album for you. Definitely something that fans of gothic Americana and lo-fi folk in general, not to mention those who like a good dose of melody in their music, would really enjoy. Couldn't recommend it enough.




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Old 10-05-2009, 06:34 PM   #37 (permalink)
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A#1 review Bulldog! Townes Van Zandt makes an excellent, excellent addition to the thread. What a song writer and vocalist! "Kathleen" especially impresses me. His vocals have such a great masculinity about them, and I'm also keen on that empty ghost town-ish vibe I get from his music. I picture tumbleweeds blowing around when I listen to it, haha. I have to say his style has quite a different swing on things than my outlaws. Much more traditional Western cowboy music. And I'm really liking it. Great job, and thank you.
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:35 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Great to hear you liked the review I was a little concerned Van Zandt would be a little too different from the rest of this thread. As you say, it doesn't exactly sound like the rest of the albums here - a lot more Dylanesque, with a lot of resemblance to early Cohen as well (and, by the way, if you haven't got a Leonard Cohen album yet, if you like the sound of Van Zandt, you'll probably love any one of his first three albums). I agree with the kind of ghost town-type vibe it all has to it - certainly gives it a different kind of edge to it.

Anyway, if you (or anyone else) needs help finding it, just shout!
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:08 AM   #39 (permalink)
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This is a pretty good country choice for someone from England who has trouble recognizing a true country piece. Grade A.
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Old 10-06-2009, 05:15 AM   #40 (permalink)
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I'm sure I've heard that name before. Couldn't put a sound to it though. Cheers for the rec though, I'll give him a spin.

Speaking of an Englishman getting to grips with proper country, I might actually have another review I could do here. It's an album of country standards covered by a very famous English musician and, while not a classic, is certainly a great place to start for a beginner or someone who's just curious about the genre. With your permission Flower Child, I'll do a review of it here (and no, it's not an Elvis Costello album ).
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