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Old 10-20-2009, 07:46 PM   #51 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
Ah, so that's where that Emmylou song you told me about comes from! I've been on the lookout for some good more good soundtracks lately, so I may just have to give this one a go. Especially with Emmylou being on it (hers being far and away one of my favourite in country music and all). All of which reminds me, I should probably talk up one of her albums in this 'ere thread sometime soon.
Oh yes, I would love to see a review of Emmylou Harris'. I really enjoy what I have heard of hers, but am limited greatly on any real knowledge of her- and her music in general. I've heard a lot about Elite Hotel but have yet to give it a listen.

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Funny you should mention Willie being no actor, as I can't remember any musician who's consistently as spellbinding on the silver screen as they are behind a pair of stereo speakers. Tom Waits' performance as Renfield in Dracula was quite good (unfortunately the rest of the film was awful), and David Bowie did so well in his lead role in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (one of my favourite ever war movies that). As for most of the rest of the films I've seen him in, it was like watching a chair giving the odd monologue every now and then.

Anyway, nice short 'n' sweet review that. As soon as I'm over the Dead Can Dance bender I'm on now, I'll have a look for it
And it turns out even worse sometimes when they put actors in the music industry! Yet it seems as though they insist on doing it anyway. Thank you for your kind words but I have to say, I'm a little embarrased at my last review- it was pretty damn sloppy and vague. To be honest I'm a lot less knowlegable in the classic country music area than I thought, as I am running out of reviews quickly! But I'm working on another that I'm pretty excited about. We'll see how it turns out though
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Old 10-21-2009, 05:08 AM   #52 (permalink)
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Anything Johnny Cash. Noone else comes close, except maybe Dolly :-)
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Old 10-21-2009, 06:03 AM   #53 (permalink)
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Oh yes, I would love to see a review of Emmylou Harris'. I really enjoy what I have heard of hers, but am limited greatly on any real knowledge of her- and her music in general. I've heard a lot about Elite Hotel but have yet to give it a listen.



And it turns out even worse sometimes when they put actors in the music industry! Yet it seems as though they insist on doing it anyway. Thank you for your kind words but I have to say, I'm a little embarrased at my last review- it was pretty damn sloppy and vague. To be honest I'm a lot less knowlegable in the classic country music area than I thought, as I am running out of reviews quickly! But I'm working on another that I'm pretty excited about. We'll see how it turns out though
I wouldn't worry, sometimes short and sweet is good. All my Leonard Cohen reviews are probably a bit lazy like that as well

The Emmylou Harris one I'm thinking of doing will probably be a bit like that too - a kinda three-in-one review... maybe... I'll have to do a draft of it and see how it looks first. Either way, watch this space!

Thanks for your last review as well. I'll be looking forward to it.
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:53 PM   #54 (permalink)
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Oh the humanity, I can't believe I haven't reviewed this album yet! As my supply of reviews quickly dwindled after the first few pages of this thread, I have racked my brain as to what I should review next that would be fairly interesting. It dawned on me today that I haven't reviewed the most controversial yet genius classic country album, in my opinion of course, that I know in existence. It ran through my mind- I can't shove two Willie Nelson reviews down everyone's throat in a row, but then I thought about it and I really don't care. Partly because you guys need to know about this album STAT, and partly because Willie trumps all. Feast your ears upon......

Stardust

Willie Nelson
1978


What can I say, Willie did in this album what he is known for doing throught his career- taking a brave step in the opposite direction of what is popular or what is expected of his character. Stardust is a jazzy album comprised of simple, soft, and poetic songs- and if you are used to Willie's outlaw music you might even say this album is, dare I say, classy. I greatly admire Willie for taking this unpopular step and testing the limits of his talents while showing us that there is more to this honky-tonk hero that meets the eye. And yet unfortunately but not surprisingly, this album came to a shock to Willie's fans who were used to hearing his music in a much different note, for instance "Whiskey River" and weren't willing for a change. It was these fans who greatly disliked this album and thought Willie was going against his outlaw roots and turning into mush. This album came close to ruining his career. But after the initial shock and awe was over, Stardust was looked at for what the album really was- a masterpiece. And not who made it, or what he was used to making. This album proves that Willie can pull off about anything he puts his heart into, which has always put him a cut above the rest in my eyes.

Stardust challenged Willie's talents in so many ways. His high and unique voice was showcased and pushed to its limits. And that wailing good-timing band that he relies on so heavily, was used in a much different light and pushed completely out of its comfort zone. Willie walked a fine line of genres in this album. Can't really call it jazz, or country, or folk- but an odd mixture of the three, that you can only know by listening. You will also notice he went with an old American classic theme here with the song choices.

Stardust This is song that dates all the way back to 1929 and has been covered by more than twenty different artists and groups over the years. Willie's rendition makes a nice addition to the list, and sets the tone perfectly for the album. He does not try to break you in whatsoever to this un-Willie like style but rather dives right in with a composed demeanor, gentle guitar noodling, and conservative lyrics.

Georgia On My Mind Another classic, and admirable cover. I think Willie puts a nice spin on this song but keeps it just traditional enough for it to sound like what you are used to. And completely clean and uncomplicated I might add.

Blue Skies I love the band's performance in this one, though I think its Willie's more vocally shakey song. Oh, but when you here Willie's trademark guitar steal the show and play a beautifully exotic and upbeat solo, you completely forget about anything else but how uplifted this song makes you feel.

All of Me This is by far my favorite of the album. Love the beginning when Willie plays his guitar and Mickey Raphael plays his harmonica in unison creating a much more country vibe on this one. It has a good swingin beat to it, more so than the others on the album I believe. Willie's vocals don't near so forced in this song and it comes off much more enjoyable to listen to. The lyrics are pretty great too. Here's a little sample
"All of me
Why not take all of me
Can't you see
That I'm no good without you
Take my arms
I want to loose them
Take my lips
I'll never use them
"

Unchained Melody I never was a big fan of this song in general so it isn't one that I dig, to be honest.

September Song This has always been a favorite of fans of this album in the past. Its one of Willie's smoothest and jazziest pieces on the album. Everything about this song is pretty easy going, yet the tone has a bit of saddness about it.

On the Sunny Side of the Street On the other hand this song isn't that great but it works well in the album because it provides a nice contrast from the sad tone of September Song with its more upbeat tone.

Moonlight in Vermont This song is very similar to "Georgia On My Mind" in my opinion. I would almost mistake it for the same song if it wouldn't be for the different lyrics. Its a great song though, nonetheless. I get a strong southern jazz vibe off of this one.

Don't Get Around Much Anymore Another upbeat contrasting piece in the album. Still pretty calm but has a little more bounce in its beat than some of these others.

Someone To Watch Over Me A nice finalle to the album. Some nice harmonica bits thrown here and there in the song that reassures you who exactly is performing this song, even though they aren't ending with "Whiskey River" like Willie and his band do everytime.


Last edited by Flower Child; 10-22-2009 at 08:56 PM. Reason: added vidja
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Old 10-25-2009, 12:51 PM   #55 (permalink)
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Quite a bold opening statement there Despite all my saying I would do, I still haven't got any Willie Nelson albums to call my own. That album does sound very interesting - that's a wonderful song in the video there. I'm giving new musicks a bit of a rest for now, but another country spree's on the cards when I feel like listening to new sounds again, so I'll keep tabs on that one.

Getting back to Emmylou Harris (who I definitely will review in some way or other for this thread), another great, great album is her Wrecking Ball one as it, like Stardust here, just completely goes against what you'd expect of a c&w songstress - sounds much more like a PJ Harvey album than anything she'd released to that point. Well worth hunting down if you can.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:52 AM   #56 (permalink)
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Bumped because a) this is a cool thread and b) I'm as hungover as some sort of crazy person and therefore in a good frame of mind to contribute another review of my own. I'll get to work on one in a bit - should be up here in a few hours or summat.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:42 AM   #57 (permalink)
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Elvis Costello & the Attractions
Almost Blue
1981

1. Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)? [Williams]
2. Sweet Dreams [Gibson]
3. Success [Mullins]
4. I'm Your Toy [Parsons/Ethridge]
5. Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down [Haggard]
6. Brown To Blue [Jones/Franks]
7. A Good Year For the Roses [Chesnut]
8. Sittin' and Thinkin' [Rich]
9. Colour Of the Blues [L. Williams/Jones]
10. Too Far Gone [Sherril]
11. Honey Hush [Turner]
12. How Much I Lied [Parsons/Rifkin]


So then, I've already taken the opportunity to introduce to one gateway album for the delights of country music in the shape of Ringo Starr's Beaucoups Of Blues - not a classic by any means, but a massively important album in my music collection when it comes to the direction my musical journey's taken on. Even though Ringo's album certainly gave me the push I needed to start to fully explore a very rich and totally new area of music to me, it wasn't my first brush with classic country and western music in the form of an album.

That's where Elvis Costello, another Englishman with a real love for country music, comes in with a covers album of his own. Again, the actual album itself is very good but no classic, but more importantly than that, in buying this is some HMV store however many years ago it was, Almost Blue here was officially the first country album I ever owned. Even if it's no classic then, it's certainly one of the most influential albums on my musical taste. On top of all that, I've been listening to Elvis Costello's albums virtually all day, and my opinions of this album have changed quite a bit since I posted the review of it in the guy's discography thread, so it's time for another bite of the cherry!

Anyway, on with the actual review! By 1981, Elvis Costello and his backing band the Attractions had made a bit of a name for themselves on either side of the Atlantic as a result of, upon emerging from the British pub rock scene, a virtually seamless run of six album releases (five studio projects, one live album) in the space of about four and a half years. As great as a lot of that work turned out though, Costello himself hadn't been able to find an outlet to express his love for country music outside of the odd B-side or album track. After the release of his brilliant Trust album earlier that year (which featured a nicely country-flavoured original called Different Finger), upon meeting up with his old buddy and professional steel guitarist John McPhee, it dawned on Costello that it wouldn't be such a bad idea to go to Nashville Tennessee and record his own renditions of some of his favourite country songs with McPhee and the Attractions in tow. Legendary producer Billy Sherril was in the producer's chair for the sessions.

A total of about thirty songs (all covers and only one original) were recorded in the space of just six days. Overall, the result is a much more faithful reading of classic country standards than you'd imagine. The exception is the furiously-paced, rollicking, punked-up cover of Hank Williams' Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)?, give us an intriguing kind of hybrid of punk and country rock.

From there though, things follow a much more traditional path, as the slow, syrupy version of the Don Gibson ballad Sweet Dreams should make obvious. Not exactly one of my favourite songs that Costello's ever sung (I'm not a huge fan of those string arrangements and backing vocals), but again, interesting when you think who exactly's singing it. Probably the weak point of the album when all's said and done, which is ok as it's followed up by the brilliant, piano-led rendition of Success (pianist Steve Nieve actually gives one of the best piano performances I've ever heard here as well). Following that is a slightly slower version of I'm Your Toy, aka the Flying Burrito Brothers' Hot Burrito 1. Good enough, but nowhere near as good as the Gram Parsons-led original. Next comes the Merle Haggard number, Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down, bringing the overall quality back up a few notches as it speeds proceedings up before the slower, slightly meandering version of Brown To Blue.

It's an album which has a few less interesting moments, but those are easily made up for by the highlights, like the following, anthemic and absolutely beautiful A Good Year For the Roses (a surprise top 10 hit in the UK, incidentally), and the gorgeously twangy, alcoholic ramble of Charlie Rich's Sittin' and Thinkin'. To follow on from those though are a couple more not necessarily bad but merely not-so-great covers, those being George Jones' Colour Of the Blues and Billy Sherril's own Too Far Gone (the latter of which is done a bit better by one Emmylou Harris). Honey Hush (also covered by Paul McCartney of all people) picks up the pace again and has a neat melody, while How Much I Lied is possibly the best cover Costello's ever performed, seeing as I think it beats Gram Parsons' original (and considering that I love all things Parsons, that's quite a thing to say).

All in all, a very interesting album for how faithful all these renditions are to their respective originals, and considering they were recorded by a band that made their name in new wave, that's quite something. Those twelve tracks are only the thin end of the wedge too, as there are plenty of great outtakes from these sessions (my personal favourite being the rendition of Hank Cochran's He's Got You, which you'll find in the bottom video here). More importantly than all that contextual stuff, although it took me a while to truly appreciate it (seeing as country and western was so alien to me when I bought this), this album got me started on the broader-than-you'd-think area of country music. Therefore, like the Ringo Starr album I reviewed a few posts back, it's no classic, but anyone wondering where to start with country should definitely turn to this album. Plus that sleeve art kicks arse, so what more reason do you need?!




That turned out a lot longer than I thought...
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Old 12-31-2009, 09:30 PM   #58 (permalink)
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As usual Bulldog, excellent review! It never ceases to amaze and please me when I hear artists like Elvis Costello have been brave enough to test the country music waters- and succeed at it like he did! I really admire artists who are so open minded and appreciative of other genres outside of their own, like Costello is.

I really find the songs off the album I've listened to very entertaining because of how unmatched Elvis really is with the genre, and I'm blown away with how easily and naturally he makes it all work. He definitely put his own personal spin on the situation. I really liked 'Sittin and Thinkin' much more so than Charlie Rich's version (I've always thought Charlie Rich was pretty bland personally) and love how his band really gets down and tears it up on this song twanging the hell out of that steel guitar I never thought a country twang could have so much attitide and I love it. Again, great review and thanks for the wonderful contribution! That ones going to be hard to top, you know.
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Old 01-01-2010, 05:22 PM   #59 (permalink)
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Maybe so, but I'm sure I'll manage somehow

It's good you think it's an ok album for this thread too - I was thinking it was a bit too much of a gamble to stick it in a thread about classic country music! I agree that it's great when any artist, especially an English-as-apple-pie one like Costello shows such an open mind to country music when, as you say, they give their own slant on the style.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:28 AM   #60 (permalink)
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I'm used to listen country classical music..It relaxes and refresh my mind.
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