Peter, Paul & Mary – A Holiday Celebration (1988)

frontcover1One of the most successful folk groups of the 1960s (“Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”), Peter, Paul & Mary reunited in 1978 and have pretty much continued playing together for people of all ages. This celebration is helped along by the New York Choral Society and includes many familiar Christmas songs. While none of them possess an extraordinary singing voice or dexterous musicianship, their talents combined make for a sound greater than the sum of its parts. Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” is their one concession to their success as topical performers. The rest is festive and often moving. (by Rob O’Connor)

Always a favorite holiday album, “A Holiday Celebration” has not only the warmly familiar harmonies of Peter, Paul and Mary, but also the vocal support of the New York Choral Society. This 1988 album was recorded live, which has always been the best way to listen to this particular trio of folk singers sing. Most importantly, this is a “holiday” album, which means it is not limited to just Christmas songs, but covers the entire spectrum of the season. There are conventional Christmas songs (“We Wish You A Merry Christmas”), religious songs (“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”), Jewish Songs (“Hayo, Haya”), Children’s Songs (“The Friendly Beasts”), familiar poems set to music (“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”), old PP&M classics (“A Soalin'”) and even the obligatory protest song (“Blowin’ In the Wind”). Truly, there is something for everybody on this album. Mary Travers is featured on a beautiful song you have probably never heard before, “I Wonder As I Wander.” This is just a lovely album and as soon as I listen to it each year I am in the mood for the holidays. This is also the first album I put on each year when it is time to trim the tree. (by  Lawrance Bernabo)

I add the complete show without edita and a nice Christmas single by Peter, Paul & Mary from 1969.

Recorded live, and chosen from the PBS Television Special
“A Peter, Paul and Mary Holiday Concert.”

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Personnel:
Noel „Paul“ Stookey (vocals, guitar)
Mary Travers (vocals)
Peter Yarrow (vocls, guitar)
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Dick Kniss (bass)
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New York Choral Society conducted by John Daly Goodwin
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Orchestra conducted by Robert DeCormier

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Tracklist:
01. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Campbell) 2.45
02. A Soalin’ (Mezzetti/Stookey) 3.45
03. The Friendly Beasts (DeCormier) 3.26
04. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Stookey/DeCormier) 3.04
05. I Wonder As I Wander (Niles) 3.46
06. The Magi (The Heart Of A Man’s Palace) (Henry/Yarrow) 3.52
07. Children Go Where I Send Thee (Travers/Stookey/Yarrow/DeCormier) 5.12
08. The Cherry Tree Carol (Travers/Stookey/Yarrow/DeCormier) 3.19
09. ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (Moore/Quinn/Stookey) 4.32
10. Hayo, Haya (Yarrow/DeCormier) 3.57
11. Light One Candle (Yarrow) 3.10
12. Blowin’ In The Wind (Dylan) 4.08
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13. A Holiday Celebration (full album -no edits) 45-65
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14. Christmas Dinner (single, 1969) (Stookey) 2.57

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Mark Spoelstra – Same (1969)

frontcover1A week ago .. a reader of this blog wrote me:

Thank you for your great shares. One artist I see to little of is Mark Spoelstra. If you’ve got anything to share, I’m sure folks would appreciate it.

Mark Warren Spoelstra (June 30, 1940 – February 25, 2007) was an American singer-songwriter and folk and blues guitarist.

He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his musical career in Los Angeles in his teens and migrated around to wind up in New York City in time to take part in the folk music revival of the early 1960s. He is best remembered for his activity in the Greenwich Village area. He performed with Bob Dylan soon after Dylan’s arrival in New York City, was a contributor to Broadside Magazine and recorded a number of albums for Folkways Records and other labels.

Spoelstra was raised as a Quaker. His career was put on hold from 1963 to 1965, when he performed alternative service as a conscientious objector in Fresno, California. In the mid-1960s, he frequently performed at the Ash Grove in West Hollywood. It was here that he wrote most of his best songs, including an album of country songs used as the sound-track for the movie Electra Glide in Blue.

In 1969, while living in Sonoma County, California, he formed the Frontier Constabulary with Mitch Greenhill and Mayne Smith. After Spoelstra left to resume his solo career in 1970, the band continued as the Frontier.

Spoelstra later settled near Modesto, California, where he lived until his death. Withdrawing from the touring life to raise a family, Spoelstra and his wife Sheri embraced Christianity. In the mid-1970s he became a minister and used his musical talents as a means to preach his spiritual messages. In the late 1970s, he recorded and released two albums of Gospel music, Somehow I Always Knew and Comin’ Back To Town.

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Mayne Smith, Mark Spoelstra, Mitch Greenhill, 1969

Retiring from music in the early 1980s, he worked for a number of years as a tour bus driver in Yosemite National Park. Throughout this period in his life, Spoelstra remained in touch with his music. In 2001, he recorded an album entitled, Out Of My Hands for the Origin Jazz Library label; the first record he’d made in 20 years. The album is a mix of new songs written for the album and some of his old favorites. In his later years he returned to the stage to perform on a limited scale. He would perform until the summer of 2006 when illness forced him to stop. Several of his albums recorded for Elektra Records, long out of print, have been reissued. Spoelstra died from complications of pancreatic cancer at his home in Pioneer, California on February 25, 2007. (by wikipedia)

After a few years without a label, Mark did manage to record  a rare self-titled 1969 album on Columbia, produced by James Guercio (who was then hot with Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears). “It was done at a time when folk, as I had been doing it on the previous four albums, just wasn’t gonna cut the mustard anymore,” concedes Spoelstra. “So this was more commercial than anything I’d previously done. [Guercio’s] backers wanted him to drop me; all they wanted was money, and they could see money with Chicago. But I got some of my old friends, and I had a band, and we were trying to go more commercial. I got Mitch Greenhill, I had Jim Gordon playing drums, and Michael Deasy played lead guitar. We had some good stuff going on there. But Guercio almost didn’t finish it, and didn’t talk to me for about four or five months after we had already recorded a number of songs. I think he just felt like he’d gotten himself into something that wasn’t gonna make any money. So he did decide finally, after pressure from me, that he should follow his word, and follow through on what he said he was gonna do. So we finished it, and there was very little promotion, if any.

And this is rare Columbia album, maybe not his best, but it´s still a pretty good one … and I will present more albums of this forgotten hero of the US folk-scene in the best months … It´s time to discover Mark Spoelstra again !

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Personnel:
Davd Blue (guitar)
Roy Blumenfeld (drums)
Harvey Brooks (bass)
James Burton (guitar)
Mike Deasy (guitar)
James Gordon (drums)
Mitch Greenhill (guitar, organ)
Joe Osborn (bass)
Michel Rubini (keyboards)
Meyer Snifin (violin)
Mark Spoelstra (guitar, vocal)
Ed Trickett (dulcimer)

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Tracklist:
01. Hobo Poet 2.50
02. Not So Inclined To Be Kind 3.57
03. Thanks Anyway 3.21
04. Sound Of The Rainbow 2.55
05. You Should Know 03:10
06. Meadow Mountain Top 2.49
07. Don Jaun’s Turn To Bow 2.48
08. Song Of Sad Bottles 4.06
09. Mona Sue 3.09
10. Dim Lights And Bar Fights 3.24
11. Child Statue 3.58
12. Empty Words 3.03

All songs written by Mark Spoelstra

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Leonard Cohen – Live At The BBC (1968)

frontcover1Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential singer and songwriter whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died at the age of 82. Cohen’s label, Sony Music Canada, confirmed his death on the singer’s Facebook page.

“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” the statement read. “We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.” A cause of death and exact date of death was not given.

After an epic tour, the singer fell into poor health. But he dug deep and came up with a powerful new album

“My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” Cohen’s son Adam wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. “He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”

“Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed,” his manager Robert Kory wrote in a statement. “I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand, was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come.” (by Richard Gehr, Rolling Stone)

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Leonard Cohen, 1960

To honor this great poet … here´s a rare album with early BBC recordings:

While Dylan was the transition point for protest music to move towards singer-songwriter, there were others too championing to focus on songs not politics. Canadian Leonard Cohen, with his brooding monotonous voice, was a talented poet who would never have won American Idol. But where he lacked a sweet voice, he made up for it with the intensity of his songs.

Together with younger artists Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Paul Simon, singer-songwriters moved to make songwriting an art form. Their efforts were recognised when mainstream acts covered their songs. All this happened in the whirlpool that rock music was creating.

These well-preserved sessions at the BBC in 1968 offer a fly-on-the-wall experience to witness a young Cohen singing practically the entire first album. The voice is fresh and deep, pushing the songs outside the Tin Pan Alley perimeter, and delving into poetry with a richness of words and subject. Today, they still have that raw appeal of a young artist at the peak of his powers.

Suzanne, So Long Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye are beautiful love songs without catchy hooks. They got your attention with words and the emotions in the song.

Tagged to this 1968 session are three songs from a Top Gear show hosted by John Peel. The final track is a duet with British folk singer Julie Felix on Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye. The quality on these four tracks are still very good.

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The origin of this BBC session began when bootleg label Yellow Cat released Leonard Cohen – At The Beeb [YC 018] to a wider audience as a silver-disc bootleg. It ran slow and was a few generations from the master. Then Cohen fan “briggY” shared his much improved version on the Dime site.

Another music fan, JWB, took a copy and improved on the sound. He said: “I’ve remastered this torrent… removed all the pops and clicks (there were several per song and in between tracks)… restored the sound to true mono… and improved the EQ which really cleared up the sound… I did not use any compression or noise reduction tricks… I reduced hiss with some deft EQ moves while still maintaining clarity.”

But the original source was from a fan called “Artery”. This is how he came upon a copy: “This is most probably my transfer from Jim D’s cassette. I did it about 6 years ago. Jim wrote to a man at the BBC who sent him the cassette. He’d made a cassette audio copy for his own use I believe and indicated the videotape had been wiped.”

So for all who wanted to know, the video of this BBC show has been “destroyed”. Artwork for this comes from “luckburz”. Many thanks to all who had a part in preserving this show and improving upon it. By your actions, many others who were not there in ‘68 can now share the experience.

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Leonard Cohen with Julie Felix, 1968

Personnel:
Leonard Cohen (vocals, guitar)
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Julie Felix (guitar, vocals on 17.)
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The Stawbs
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Dave Cousins (banjo)

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Tracklist:
01. You Know Who I Am 3.48
02. Bird On The Wire 4.23
03. The Stranger Song 6.19
04. So Long Marianne 7.56
05. Master Song 8.03
06. There’s No Reason Why You Should Remember Me [improvisation] 1.42
07. Sisters Of Mercy 3.56
08. Teachers 3.59
09. Dress Rehearsal Rag 5.54
10. Suzanne 5.24
11. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye 3.48
12. Story Of Isaac 4.12
13. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong 3.58
14. Bird On The Wire 3.37
15. So Long Marianne 5.55
16. You Know Who I Am 3.10
17. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye 3.12

All songs written by Leonard Cohen

Tracks 1-13 Recorded Spring 1968 at Paris Theatre, London
Tracks 1-5 Broadcast August 31, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
Tracks 6-13 Broadcast September 7, 1968 on BBC2 TV (”Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen”)
Tracks 14-16 Recorded August 11, 1968 & Broadcast on BBC Radio 1 (”Top Gear with John Peel”)
Track 17 Recorded January 27, 1968 & Broadcast on BBC2 TV (”Once More With Felix”)

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Rest In Peace

Fairport Convention – Liege & Lief (1969)

frontcover1Liege & Lief is the fourth album by the English folk rock band Fairport Convention. It is the third and final album the group released in the UK in 1969, all of which prominently feature Sandy Denny as lead female vocalist. (Denny did not appear on the group’s 1968 debut album). It is also the very first Fairport album on which all songs have either been adapted (freely) from traditional British and Celtic folk material (for example “Matty Groves”, “Tam Lin”), or else are original compositions (such as “Come All Ye”, “Crazy Man Michael”) written and performed in a similar style. By introducing songs of this genre into the group’s repertoire Denny, who had previously sung and recorded traditional folk songs as a solo artist, was instrumental in this transformation. Although Denny quit the band even before the album’s release, Fairport Convention has continued to the present day to make music almost exclusively within the traditional British folk music idiom, and are still most strongly associated with it.

The album was moderately successful, peaking at number 17 on the UK Albums Chart during a 15-week run. It is often credited, though the claim is sometimes disputed, as the first major “British folk rock” album. (This term is not to be confused with American-style folk rock, which had first achieved mainstream popularity on both sides of the Atlantic with The Byrds’ early work several years prior.) The popularity of Liege & Lief did a great deal to establish the new style commercially and artistically as a distinct genre. In an audience vote at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2006, the album was voted “Most Influential Folk Album of All Time”.

Following the motorway accident that had killed Martin Lamble, the band were left without a drummer. After the release of Unhalfbricking, Dave Mattacks took over the role and, having previously been a drummer at Mecca Ballrooms, had to “learn a whole new style of drumming.” Dave Swarbrick, a little older than the rest of the band, had already been in a successful duo with guitarist Martin Carthy. After his appearance on Unhalfbricking, he too joined Fairport full-time.

The band rehearsed and put together Liege & Lief over the summer of 1969 at a house in Farley Chamberlayne, near Braishfield, Winchester, launching it with a sold-out concert in London’s Royal Festival Hall late in 1969.

Gone were the covers of songs by Bob Dylan and others, replaced by electrified versions of traditional English folksongs and the first of a long line of instrumental medleys of folk dance tunes driven by Dave Swarbrick’s violin playing. Much of this material had been found by Ashley Hutchings in Cecil Sharp’s collection, maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

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The title is composed of two Middle English words: liege meaning loyal and lief meaning ready. The cover, a gatefold in grey and purple, featured cameo images of the band along with track listing and credits.

Soon after the release of Liege & Lief, Ashley Hutchings left to further pursue traditional music in a new band, Steeleye Span; Sandy Denny also left to form Fotheringay.

Liege & Lief was promoted by John Peel on his Top Gear radio programme[10] and the album spent fifteen weeks in the UK album chart, reaching number 17.[11] In a contemporary review, John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone recommended the album only to devotees of “quietly arty traditional folk” and felt that “Deserter” is the only “arresting” song, as “not even the originals match up to the group-composed material on previous albums.”[12] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave Liege & Lief a “B–” and said that, because of his “anti-folk” tastes, he was disappointed with the album’s more traditional material after Unhalfbricking.

The album has come to be regarded as having a major influence in the development of British folk rock. It was voted the ‘most important folk album of all time’ by BBC Radio 2 listeners in 2002, and at the 2006 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Liege and Lief won the award for Most influential Folk Album of all time. At the event, the original line-up of Simon Nicol, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Mattacks, with Chris While replacing Sandy Denny, performed Matty Groves. Georgia Lucas, the daughter of Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas, accepted the award on behalf of her late mother. This commemoration was repeated on 10 August 2007 at Cropredy, when the complete album was performed.

In a retrospective review, Allmusic’s Mark Deming said of the album that “while [it] was the most purely folk-oriented Fairport Convention album to date, it also rocked hard in a thoroughly original and uncompromising way”.[14] In June 2007, Mojo magazine listed Liege & Lief at number 58 in its list of “100 Records that changed the world”.

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Personnel:
Sandy Denny (vocals)
Ashley Hutchings (bass, background vocals)
Dave Mattacks (drums, percussion)
Simon Nicol (guitar, background vocals)
Dave Swarbrick (fiddle, viola)
Richard Thompson (guitar, background vocals)
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Tracklist:
01. Come All Ye (Denny/Hutchings) 4.55
02. Reynardine (Traditional) 4.33
03. Matty Groves (Traditional) 8.08
04. Farewell, Farewell (Thompson) 2.38
05. The Deserter (Traditional) 4.10
06. Medley 4.00
06.01. The Lark In he Morning  (Traditional)
06.02. Rakish Paddy  (Traditional)
06.03. Foxhunters’ Jig  (Traditional)
06.04. Toss the Feathers  (Traditional)
07. Tam Lin  (Traditional) 7.20
08. Crazy Man Michael (Thompson/Swarbrick) 4.35
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09. Sir Patrick Spens (Traditional) 4.02
10. Quiet Joys of Brotherhood (Traditional/Farina) 10.16

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Bob Dylan – Same (1962)

frontcover1Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that made him the only singer-songwriter to win the award.

The 75-year-old Dylan — who won the prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” — now finds himself in the company of Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann and Rudyard Kipling as Nobel laureates.

The announcement was met with gasps in Stockholm’s stately Royal Academy hall, followed — unusually — by some laughter.

Dylan’s songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and “Like a Rolling Stone” captured a spirit of rebellion, dissent and independence.

More than 50 years on, Dylan is still writing songs and is often on tour, performing his dense poetic lyrics, sung in a sometimes rasping voice that has been ridiculed by detractors.

Some lyrics have resonated for decades.

“Blowin’ in the Wind,” written in 1962, was considered one of the most eloquent folk songs of all time. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” in which Dylan told Americans “your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,” was an anthem of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests.

bobdylan01Awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($930,000) prize, the Swedish Academy said: “Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound.”

Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg said: “He is probably the greatest living poet.”

Asked if he thought Dylan’s Nobel lecture – traditionally given by the laureate in Stockholm later in the year – would be a concert, replied: “Let’s hope so.”

Over the years, not everyone has agreed that Dylan was a poet of the first order. Novelist Norman Mailer countered: “If Dylan’s a poet, I’m a basketball player.”

Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Academy, told a news conference there was “great unity” in the panel’s decision to give Dylan the prize.

Dylan has always been an enigmatic figure. He went into seclusion for months after a motorcycle crash in 1966, leading to stories that he had cracked under the pressure of his new celebrity.

He was born into a Jewish family but in the late 1970s converted to born-again Christianity and later said he followed no organized religion. At another point in his life, Dylan took up boxing.

Dylan’s spokesman, Elliott Mintz, declined immediate comment when reached by phone, citing the early hour in Los Angeles, where it was 3 a.m. at the time of the announcement. Dylan was due to give a concert in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.

Literature was the last of this year’s Nobel prizes to be awarded. The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will. (by Reuters)

And this was the start of a very unique career that leads to the nobel prize in 2016:

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Bob Dylan’s first album is a lot like the debut albums by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones — a sterling effort, outclassing most, if not all, of what came before it in the genre, but similarly eclipsed by the artist’s own subsequent efforts. The difference was that not very many people heard Bob Dylan on its original release (originals on the early-’60s Columbia label are choice collectibles) because it was recorded with a much smaller audience and musical arena in mind. At the time of Bob Dylan’s release, the folk revival was rolling, and interpretation was considered more important than original composition by most of that audience. A significant portion of the record is possessed by the style and spirit of Woody Guthrie, whose influence as a singer and guitarist hovers over “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Pretty Peggy-O,” as well as the two originals here, the savagely witty “Talkin’ New York” and the poignant “Song to Woody”; and it’s also hard to believe that he wasn’t aware of Jimmie Rodgers and Roy Acuff when he cut “Freight Train Blues.” But on other songs, one can also hear the influences of Bukka White, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, and Furry Lewis, in the playing and singing, and this is where Dylan bobdylan03departed significantly from most of his contemporaries. Other white folksingers of the era, including his older contemporaries Eric Von Schmidt and Dave Van Ronk, had incorporated blues in their work, but Dylan’s presentation was more in your face, resembling in some respects (albeit in a more self-conscious way) the work of John Hammond, Jr., the son of the man who signed Dylan to Columbia Records and produced this album, who was just starting out in his own career at the time this record was made. There’s a punk-like aggressiveness to the singing and playing here. His raspy-voiced delivery and guitar style were modeled largely on Guthrie’s classic ’40s and early-’50s recordings, but the assertiveness of the bluesmen he admires also comes out, making this one of the most powerful records to come out of the folk revival of which it was a part. Within a year of its release, Dylan, initially in tandem with young folk/protest singers like Peter, Paul & Mary and Phil Ochs, would alter the boundaries of that revival beyond recognition, but this album marked the pinnacle of that earlier phase, before it was overshadowed by this artist’s more ambitious subsequent work. In that regard, the two original songs here serve as the bridge between Dylan’s stylistic roots, as delineated on this album, and the more powerful and daringly original work that followed. One myth surrounding this album should also be dispelled here — his version of “House of the Rising Sun” here is worthwhile, but the version that was the inspiration for the Animals’ recording was the one by Josh White. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Bob Dylan (guitar, vocals, harmonica)

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Tracklist:
01. You’re No Good (Fuller) 1.37
02. Talkin’ New York (Dylan) 3.15
03. In My Time Of Dyin’ (Traditional) 2.37
04. Man Of Constant Sorrow (Traditional) 3.06
05. Fixin’ To Die (White) 2.17
06. Pretty Peggy-O (Traditional) 3.22
07. Highway 51 (Jones) 2.49
08. Gospel Plow (Traditional) 1.44
09. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (v.Schmidt) 2.32
10. House Of The Risin’ Sun (Traditional) 5.15
11. Freight Train Blues (Traditional) 2.16
12. Song To Woody (Dylan) 2.39
13. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (Jefferson) 2.40

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congratulations

Ray Wilson – Live And Acoustic (2002)

frontcover1Live and Acoustic is the first live CD release from Ray Wilson. It was originally released as Unplugged in late 2001 via his website, but was reissued in 2002 as Live and Acoustic by InsideOut Music. It was recorded in August 2001 during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for which Ray played 13 sold out shows.

This was technically the first release by Ray under his own name following the release of Millionairhead in 1999 by his band _Cut. (by wikipedia)
Despite the near impossible task of following up a charismatic, ultra-successful front man like Phil Collins, Ray Wilson never attempted to sound like his predecessors in Genesis. Much to his credit, his voice stood on its own, and while his deep, refined yet raspy vocal quality may have been compared by some to that of Peter Gabriel, Ray was clearly a talented singer in his own right. Perhaps more than on any other album, Unplugged exemplifies this. Wilson’s vocals take center stage on this stripped down, intimately simplistic recording from Edinburgh International Festival in 2001. Backed only by his own guitar, his brother Steve on backing vocals and guitar and Amanda Lyon on backing vocals and, occasionally, keyboards, Wilson provides both a passionate homage to past influences and a thoughtful nod to his own history not only in Genesis, but his own work with Cut, Stiltskin and Guaranteed Pure.

Ray and company pull off a full repertoire of fantastic acoustic versions of some great material. Even songs that you wouldn’t think would lend themselves to an acoustic environment, like Genesis’ “Mama,” come off surprisingly well. Among the cover tunes, I thought that Ray’s version of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” and The Eagles’ “Desperado” were among the highlights. More than anywhere else, Ray showcases his ability to balance soulful vocals with a powerful rock presence that can make even the most skeptical listener a fan. Unlike many live albums, Ray’s comments, flubs, and banter are left seemingly intact, which is a refreshing change from the over-produced, overdubbed stuff that most artists release that barely sounds like a live recording. There are a few scattered moments that didn’t work very well in my opinion, but the overall performance is outstanding, and I enjoyed the disc from beginning to end. (by worldofgenesis.com)

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Personnel:
Amanda Lyon (vocals, keyboards)
Ray Wilson (vocals, guitar)
Steve Wilson (guitar, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. In The Air Tonight (Collins) 4.53
02. Inside (Lawlor) 4.31
03. Rest In Peace (Lawlor) 2.58
04. Shipwrecked (Banks/Rutherford) 3.17
05. Not About Us (Banks/Rutherford/R.Wilson) 3.25
06. Another Day (R.Wilson) 4.08
07. Sarah (R.Wilson) 2.52
08. Gypsy (R.Wilson) 4.26
09. Swing Your Bag (R.Wilson) 3.30
10. Always In My Heart (Wilson) 4.37
11. Lover’s Leap (Taken from Supper’s Ready) (Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford) 2.15
12. The Carpet Crawlers (Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford) 4.42
13. Biko (Gabriel) 4.43
14. Mama (Banks/Collins/Rutherford) 4.27
15. Forever Young (Dylan) 4.18
16. Desperado (Frey/Henley) 3.04
17. Born To Run (Springsteen) 4.18
18. The Airport Song (R.Wilson) 3.12

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Sara K. – Tell Me I´m Not Dreaming (1995)

FrontCover1Sara K. (full name Sara Katherine Wooldridge) is an American singer-songwriter based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her music includes genres like blues, folk as well as jazz. She has released audiophile albums[1] and played a custom 4-(bass)-string acoustic guitar. She withdrew from the music business in 2009.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in a family surrounded by music: her mother sang in a church choir, her father in a barbershop quartet, her brother played in a band, and her sister also played the guitar. However, her family considered music a hobby, not a job option.

In the early 1970s, at the age of 15, she started playing the guitar, using one her sister had left behind. She took this flamenco guitar, took off the remaining regular strings, and put four bass strings on instead (tuned to an open A). This gave it a fuller tone than a conventional acoustic guitar while not sounding as deep as a bass. She used this tuning from then on, making it one of her trademarks.

Although the era of acoustic solo performers was on the decline in the late 1970s, she stayed on that course. After graduating and moving out, she spent a few years playing whenever and wherever possible, be it “happy hours”, back-up vocals for country music and jingles, or her own demo tapes. When realizing that she didn’t entirely fit the contemporary scene in Dallas, she moved to New Mexico.

After having moved to the small mountain town Ruidoso, New Mexico, she became leader of the band Sara K. and the Boys Without Sleep. From 1978 to 1983, they toured mainly New Mexico and Los Angeles. She also toured with country musician Gary Nunn for two years.

After moving to Santa Fe, she teamed up with several musicians and put out her debut album, Gypsy Alley (1989) with Mesa/Bluemoon. Many of its songs’ topics come from the almost fifteen years she had lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, moving around a lot. These years had ended when she rented a place on that very same Gypsy Alley (off Canyon Road, Santa Fe), won a goldfish on a country fair, and got her dog Bebe (who himself is mentioned numerous times in her songs).

“Furthermore, Sara K. comes across as authentic, she “has lived these stories, is right in the middle of them and relates them from the heart—warm, personal and moving.” The album won her immediately the New Mexico Music Industry Coalition’s “Best Album Award”,

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One of the musicians she worked with on Gypsy Alley was guitarist Bruce Dunlap, who was also signed to New York-based Chesky Records, a record label aimed mainly at audiophiles. He helped to bring her to the label and she remained signed to Chesky for more than ten years, up to 2001. For Sara K. herself, this opened up a whole new era marked by contrasts—between her southwestern homebase Santa Fe and Chesky’s hectic New York, between the familiar analogue recording equipment and the new digital/audiophile one, and between the dream of fame and wealth and the realities of the record industry.

With Chesky, Sara K. recorded six albums, Closer Than They Appear, Play On Words, Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’, Hobo, the live album No Cover, and What Matters. In the end, Chesky also compiled a “Best of” album of Sara K. called The Chesky Collection. Sarah also makes an appearance on Chesky Records sound system benchmarking record, The Ultimate Demonstration Disk.

In the meantime, she toured Europe and had planned to but never did move to San Francisco. At the end of her contract obligations with Chesky, Sara got the feeling that she had “been ripped off in many directions by labels and touring companies”.

On her last tour through Germany under the Chesky contract, the owner of the German label Stockfisch Records, Günter Pauler, was called to be her sound specialist. He took the opportunity to give her a tour of his studio and offer her a record contract along with the prospect of having guitarist Chris Jones as guest musician, which she signed.

The cooperation with Chris Jones proved to be congenial. Her first Stockfisch release, Water Falls (2001), was followed by a tour that year, which in turn provided material for both a live DVD and the live album Live in Concert (2003). The latter won her the German music magazine AUDIO/stereoplay’s “Hifi Music Award 2003” for audiophile CDs.

In 2006, the third album with Stockfisch was released, Hell or High Water. It features ten new tracks, again with Chris Jones on guitar and dobro. Jones died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma just shortly after recording and before the release of the album.

She released her fourth Stockfisch album Made in the Shade in 2009, containing several new versions of her Gypsy Alley album songs.

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With the release of her 2009 album, she announced her withdrawal from music business. In a note to her fans on her label’s website, she stated:

After many years on the road and writing music, I’ve decided to stop touring and recording. It’s hard to explain why but I hope you will understand. I had a good run but I think it’s over. It’s just too much for too little these days. Made in the Shade explains it as best as I know how.(Sara K., 2009)

And this is one of her great albums for Chesky Records:

“Listening to this just completes a nice day. Sara not only gives us a little glimpse on the talented world, but also takes you away to a high level of music where only the best of the best exists. A total acoustic experience with dazzling showdowns of talent, not only vocal but also instrumental!!! For an audiophile taste only!!!” Truly a masterpice!!! (by Sotilla)

And listen to a real great version of “Whipping Post” from The Allman Brothers Band !

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Personnel:
Hul Cox (guitar)
Bruce Dunlap (guitar)
Randy Landau (bass)
Sara K.(vocals)
Steve Shehan (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. What You Don’t Know (Sara K.) 4.33
02. Easy Street (Sara K.)  4.00
03. Out Of My Hands (Sara K.) 4.16
04. Whipping Post (Allman) 3.28
05. Big Yard, No Pets (Sara K.)     3:17
06. Fortune Ladie’s Eyes (Sara K.)     4:09
07. J. J  (Sara K.)    3:25
08. You’ve Walked That Way Before (Sara K.)    2:05
09. Love Is Strong (Sara K.)    4:09
10. Free Will (Sara K.)    3:17
11. Leave The Leavin’ Up To Me (Sara K.)     4:06
12. Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Sara K.)    5:14
13. Vincent (McLean) 4.07

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