The Magpie Salute – High Water I (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Magpie Salute is an American rock band formed in 2016 by former Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson. The band also includes former Black Crowes members Marc Ford and Sven Pipien as well as Rich Robinson band members Matt Slocum and Joe Magistro.

The name The Magpie Salute comes from a superstition based in the UK… There are many variations, but the version I’m drawn to is the belief that if you see a Magpie, you would do well to salute it ‘to ward off negativity, or to have a good day.’ The way you salute the Magpie, based on some traditions is to say ‘Good Mornin’ Captain.’ The reason we salute is to show we’re unarmed, or what I like to say is ‘we come in peace.’ The Magpie falls within the Crowe umbrella of species, figuratively and literally. Magpies can be black and white which represents the light and the dark. I figured all of these things touch on many aspects of my life and this experience.

Rich Robinson announced the formation of the Magpie Salute in October 2016. In addition to Robinson, the group features former Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford and bassist Sven Pipien, as well as keyboardists Matt Slocum, drummer Joe Magistro, and vocalists Adrien Reju and Katrine Ottosen from Robinson’s solo band.

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This announcement came on the heels of a series of shows Robinson performed earlier in 2016 in Woodstock, New York where he was joined by Ford, Pipien and former Black Crowes keyboard player Eddie Harsch. Harsch was slated to tour as a member of the band until his sudden death in November 2016, and his appearance on their self-titled debut marks his last recording.

They performed their first concerts in January 2017 at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City. They were originally only scheduled to perform three concerts, but added a fourth show due to demand. They performed songs from the Black Crowes as well as Robinson and Ford’s solo careers. The band then played a series of gigs in Europe in June and July 2017 before kicking off a 60 date US tour that included stops in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Morrison, Colorado (Red Rocks Amphitheater) and two nights at the Irving Plaza in New York. All attendees of the November 15 or 16 Irving Plaza shows received a limited edition live album featuring performances from throughout 2017.

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The Magpie Salute released their debut studio album High Water 1 on August 10, 2018. The album debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, and #33 on the Top Album Sales chart. The band kicked off their 2018 tour, on July 1, at The Village at Copper Mountain in Colorado. The album was recorded at Dark Horse Recording Studio just outside of Nashville in Franklin, TN.

On June 15, 2019, it was officially announced via social media that the band’s second studio album High Water II would be released October 11, 2019.

High Water I is the debut studio album by American rock band The Magpie Salute, released August 10, 2018 on Eagle Records. Produced by leader and guitarist Rich Robinson, it served as the follow up to their self-titled live album released one year prior. It debuted at #33 on the Billboard 200. (by wikipedia)

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After the acrimonious split with his brother and Black Crowes band-mates, Rich Robinson has made a point of keeping the spirit of Black Crowes alive. Starting with a series of gigs that included ex-Crowes Marc Ford and Sven Pipien, Robinson has solidified that project into a band called The Magpie Salute, has toured extensively, and has now released the band’s debut album ‘High Water I’. Completing the line-up are John Hogg, Matt Slocum and Joe Magistro.

The comparisons will be inevitable, so let me start by stating the obvious: Black Crowes fans will love much of this album. Robinson has often claimed that his role as co-composer in the Black Crowes was under-played, and it would seem, on a cursory listen to ‘High Water I’ that he may have a point. This notwithstanding, the album variously offers some allied but different gratifications as well.

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Opener “Mary the Gypsy” is an immediate statement that Robinson has no intention of abandoning his significant pop-rock legacy. Riff-based and driving, the song has a nice, loose feel and accesses Robinson’s past in the best possible way. Title track “High Water” is (together with closing track “Open Up”), the best moment on the album. The verse is a stellar exposition of Zeppelin-like melody progression that is hypnotic and entrancing. It develops from a psychedelic acoustic ramble with a droning vocal hum, to a rousing vocal interplay accentuated by just the right amount of emotion.

FrontCoverWithStickerA.jpg“Send Me an Omen” is good old Blues Rock done the right way – heavy, laden with excellent harmonies and an abrasive lead vocal, it even has a couple of progressive time signatures. Think Joe Bonamassa meets Jellyfish. Acoustic pulchritude begins “For the Wind”, but by the first chorus, it has become strident electric blues that would impress even Rich’s estranged brother. Variation and swaggering dynamics fulfill the promise of this song. “Sister Moon” is a piano-based melding of blues and melodic pop delivered with a smoother vocal and delightful harmonies. The song has a great hook and leaves the listener wishing it had not ended so soon.

“Color Blind” is lyrically rich with a strong anti-racist message (if delivered somewhat literally), but offers little that is remarkable in its musical composition. The same may be said of “Walk on Water” which is a Tom Petty/Dylan-esque variation in sound for the band. Similarly, “Hand In Hand” brings the band to country-blues territory without too much fanfare. “You Found Me” unashamedly exposes the band’s country proclivities and is, if nothing else, a well-written country ballad with an excellent lead vocal. “Take It All”, on the other hand, delivers an angular and jarring guitar progression that is reminiscent of Jimmy Page in an aggressive mood. It features a very strong lead vocal performance over a nice, dirty mix. Excellent.

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The band returns to more familiar electric blues-rock on “Can You See”. Heavy and slow, with a melodic progression that harkens back to the Crowes, this is almost-perfect power-blues. An unusual sonic effect in the middle-eight reminds us that this band is far from a clone and that more innovation awaits. The closing track “Open Up” is – as mentioned earlier- a personal favorite of mine. Based on a sinister, slow guitar riff, with surprise pauses and ascendant vocal harmonies, the song is magnificent. The vocals and instrumentation interact to provide a gratification that only the very best in blues-rock can deliver. This song augurs very well for the future of this band. If they do more like it, the future is bright indeed. (by Nick Matzukis)

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Personnel:
Marc Ford (guitar, vocals)
John Hogg (vocals)
Joe Magistro (drums, percussion)
Sven Pipien (bass, vocals)
Rich Robinson (guitars, vocals)
Matt Slocum (keyboards, vocals)
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Byron House (bass)
Dan Wistrom (pedal steel guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Mary The Gypsy (Robinson) 3.08
02. High Water (Hogg/Robinson) 5.45
03. Send Me An Omen (Hogg/Robinson) 3.54
04. For The Wind (Hogg/Robinson) 5.03
05. Sister Moon (Hogg/Ford) 3.47
06. Color Blind (Hogg/Robinson) 3.45
07. Take It All (Hogg/Ford) 3.25
08. Walk On Water (Hogg/Ford) 4.08
09. Hand In Hand (Hogg/Robinson) 3.23
10. You Found Me (Robinson) 4.49
11. Can’t You See (Robinson) 3.11
12. Open Up (Hogg/Robinson) 3.57

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And here are some live pics I shot during their Europe-Tour 2017:

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Eric Quincy Tate – E.Q.T. (1975)

FrontCover1.JPGSouthern rock and roll, similar to the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, White Witch, Charlie Daniels, and Wet Willie.

The founding members of Eric Quincy Tate are Tommy Carlisle and Donnie McCormick. Tommy and Donnie met in 1963 when Tommy joined Donnie’s band “The Kings.” The band had several regional hits cutting for the Jox label in San Antonio, Texas. Tommy, Donnie, and two other members of “The Kings” served two years in The United States Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex #9 from 1966-1968. While doing their tour of duty, the band performed at venues in England, Norway, Holland, Germany, Italy, Southern France, Sicily and on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Upon completion of duty in 1968, Tommy and Donnie returned to Corpus Christi, Texas and formed the band “Eric Quincy Tate.” “Eric Quincy Tate” was Donnie’s creation and is derived from three different sources according to Donnie: “ERIC” (Eric Burdon); “QUINCY” for Quincy, Massachusetts; “TATE” was the surname of a naval comrade on board Donnie’s ship.

While playing in Texas, EQT made a strong impression on songwriter/artist/producer Tony Joe White. White played an important role in getting the band heard by Capricorn Records in Macon, GA. Demos were recorded at Capricorn which caught the ear of legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler. In late 1969 EQT inked a management deal with Phil Walden. They recorded their first album for Cotillion Records (subsidiary of Atlantic Records) with producers Tony Joe White, Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd. The band then moved their base from South Texas to Memphis, TN. In 1970, their first album titled “Eric Quincy Tate” was released on Cotillion. The band moved to Atlanta, GA that same year.

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In the early 1970s, EQT performed free concerts in Piedmont Park in Atlanta with The Allman Brothers Band. EQT also performed with, among others, Little Walter, Ted Nugent, B.B. King (whom Tommy loaned an amplifier to at a concert in New York City in ’73), Johnny Winter, Wet Willie, Dr. John, Tony Joe White, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Papa John Creach, REO Speedwagon and YES.

In 1972 EQT’s second album “Drinking Man’s Friend” was released on the Capricorn label with producer Paul Hornsby (Marshall Tucker Band – Charlie Daniels Band). Eric Quincy Tate made its third release in 1975 on GRC Records in Atlanta, produced by Sonny Limbo and EQT. The GRC release was a split release; the (A) side of the LP was studio recorded and the (B) side was recorded live at the Chattahoochee River Raft Race. The live side captured EQT in their natural state, spontaneous and loaded with energy. During the GRC period, Tommy Carlisle had taken a leave from the band and Wayne “Bear” Sauls took over as the primary guitarist.

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In 1976 EQT released “Can’t Keep A Good Band Down” recorded live at The Whipping Post in Augusta, GA, with Sonny Limbo producing in association with Atlanta music icon Bill Lowery. Tommy left the band and went on tour in 1978 with “The Back Alley Bandits” (London Records producer Chips Moman).

On September 9, 2006, EQT reunited for a 37th Anniversary reunion show at Northside Tavern in Atlanta. The recordings on the new CD are the result of the show. The band performed for a packed house of excited fans both old and new. The evening was very special and magical. There was also a fireworks display in celebration of the band’s reunion. On tracks 9 through 13, Donnie plays his famous “Chicken Coop”. Donnie stated “never again”, as the last track on the disk fades out. “Thirty-Seven” is the last live recording made by Eric Quincy Tate. (wikipedia)

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And here´s their third album:

The GRC release was a split release; the (A) side of the LP was studio recorded and the (B) side was recorded live at the Chattahoochee River Raft Race. The live side captured EQT in their natural state, spontaneous and loaded with energy. During the GRC period.

And it´s time o discover another great Southern Rock group (listen to the legendary “Big Boss Jam” …)

Long live Southern Rock !

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Personnel:
David Cantonwine (bass)
Donnie McCormick (drums, vocals)
Joseph Rogers (keyboards, harmonica)
Wayne “Bear” Sauls (guitar, background vocals)
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Tommy Carlisle (slide guitar on 01. + 05.)
Jerome Joseph (percussion on 07. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Honky Tonk Man (Hausey/Horton/Franks) 4.20
02. No Rollin’ Boogie (D.McCormick/Rogers) 3.43
03. Food, Phone, Gas And Lodging (Cantonwine) 2.44
04. Chattahoochee Coochee Man (D.McCormick) 2.27
05. Wide Open (M. McCormick) 3.58
06. Intro + Drivin’ Wheel (Sykes) 6.53
07. Big Boss Jam (Reed) 15.28

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Donnie McCormick (30 Oct 1944 – 11 Jan 2009)

Blackfoot – Dry Country + Too Hard To Handle + 2 (1981)

FrontCover1.JPGBlackfoot is an American Southern rock band from Jacksonville, Florida formed during 1969. Though they primarily play with a Southern rock style, they are also known as a hard rock act. The band’s classic lineup consisted of guitarist and vocalist Rickey Medlocke, guitarist Charlie Hargrett, bassist Greg T. Walker, and drummer Jakson Spires.

They had a number of successful albums during the 1970s and early 1980s, including Strikes (1979), Tomcattin’ (1980) and Marauder (1981).

By late 1975, the group was living back in Gainesville, Florida. During 1977 they communicated with Black Oak Arkansas’ manager, Butch Stone, who hired them as the backing group for one of his clients, Ruby Starr, who had been a backup singer for Black Oak but was now becoming self-employed. After the stint with Ruby ended during 1978, they met Brownsville Station manager Al Nalli and his partner Jay Frey, who got them a contract with the company Atco Records.

Blackfoot Strikes, produced by Al Nalli and engineered by Brownsville Station drummer Henry Weck, was recorded in Nalli’s basement studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was completed by January 1979. It was destined to be the band’s most commercially successful effort. The song “Train, Train”, written by Rickey’s grandfather, “Shorty” Medlocke, became their first success and best known song. “Highway Song” proved to be another success for them later that year.

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The group toured frequently during 1979; late during the year they opened for the band The Who at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan while developing their next album, Tomcattin, which was released during 1980. They went on to release the album Marauder during 1981 and Highway Song Live during 1982. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a rare single including as a bonus a “free live single”, recorded at the Castle Donnington Festival, including their legendary “Train Train” written by Shorty Medlocke (the grandpa auf Ricky Melock).

The two sutio tracks were taken from their “Marauder” album.

Enjoy the power of one of the finest Southern Hard Rock groups ever … !

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Personnel:
Charlie Hargrett (guitar)
Rickey Medlocke (vocals, guitar)
Greg T. Walker (bass, background vocals)
Jakson Spires (drums, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Dry Country (R.Medlocke/Spires) 3.42
02. Too Hard To Handel (R.Medlocke/Spires) 4.04
03. On The Run (live Donington 1981) (R.Medlocke/Spires) 4.37
04. Train Train (live Donington 1981) (S.Medlocke) 7.01

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Jakson Spires

Jakson Spires April 12th 1951 – March 16th 2005

Marshall Tucker Band – Carolina Dreams (1977)

FrontCover1Carolina Dreams, released in 1977, was The Marshall Tucker Band’s sixth album and an ode to the band’s home state, South Carolina, USA. Focusing on Western themes, it spawned their biggest hit to date, “Heard It In a Love Song”, which rose to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, taking the album with it to #22 and #23 on the Country and Pop charts, respectively. They toured early that year to promote the album. A bonus live version of “Silverado” appears on the 2005 reissue which was recorded the year after the death of bassist and founding member, Tommy Caldwell. (by wikipedia)

The Carolina landscape seems to lend itself to dreaming; it’s no wonder that James Taylor wrote in one of his most famous songs that “I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind.” This two-state region, with its rich and fertile soil, its mild year-round climate, its courteous people and rich culture, is a singularly lovely place in which to sit back and dream. For that reason, it seems appropriate that the Marshall Tucker Band gave their fine 1977 album the evocative title of “Carolina Dreams.”

The Marshall Tucker Band came out of Spartanburg, South Carolina – a center (with nearby Greenville) of the Upstate region, and a city with a mill-town heritage that, by 1977, was already in decline. Spartanburg and its environs are worlds away from the coastal gentility of Charleston; Pat Conroy, in one of his books, described “the upcountry of South Carolina” as a place that combines “the Bible Belt, sand-lot baseball, knife fights under the bleachers.”

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But it was also a place where the musical heritage of the American South – including both African-American blues and Anglo-Appalachian country music – had long helped the people of the region through lives of hard work and hard times; and the Marshall Tucker Band’s work on this album is steeped in a sensibility that combines blues and country in a musically fruitful manner.

The album begins with “Fly Like an Eagle” — *not* the Steve Miller Band hit from 1976, but rather, for my money, a much better song. It is a crunchy, bluesy, riff-based rocker with high clear vocals from Doug Gray, and a soaring quality that characterizes many of the songs on this album. The song that follows, “Heard It in a Love Song,” was deservedly a big hit (#14 here in the U.S.A., #5 in Canada), and to this day it makes its way onto just about every Southern rock compilation that one can find. What gives this song that lyrical quality that sent it racing up the North American charts? To my way of thinking, it’s Jerry Eubanks’s flute solo. With a few exceptions (Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues, Peter Gabriel in Genesis’ early years), the flute has not had much of a presence in rock music; but here, Eubanks’s flute combines seamlessly with flat-picking, Carl Perkins-style guitar, a lovely piano solo, and effective use of organ in a supporting role. The lyrics are fairly typical – a rambling, roaming rocker really loves the girl he’s with, but tells her he needs to move on – but musically, the song is so well-composed and so well-played that I’m not disposed to quibble.

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“I Should Have Never Started Lovin’ You” is slow-paced and bluesy; it unfolds slowly, gently, with effective use of the saxophone. The Toy Caldwell guitar solo in the middle is fairly long, but it complements the song well; in contrast with a lot of songs from the 1970’s heyday of Southern rock, the guitar solo doesn’t overwhelm the song. “Life in a Song” is funky and fast-paced; a kinetic guitar plays the dominant role here, while Hammond organ and a Muscle Shoals-style brass section provide fine support. “Desert Skies,” another slow and bluesy number, achieves something different by deploying guest star Charlie Daniels’s fiddle to establish a wistful, country-and-Western quality, in a manner that looks back to the earlier MTB album “Searchin’ for a Rainbow” (1975).

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“Never Trust a Stranger,” with lap steel guitar and walking bass backing up a chunka-chunka guitar sound, keeps that Western sound going, as further emphasized by the song’s “outlaw” lyrics; but this song, with its minor-key delivery, has more of a foreboding quality, and once again Eubanks’s flute playing shines. The country influence is comparably important on the slow-paced, mellow “Tell It to the Devil”; but what stands out on this song is the piano, which switches back and forth seamlessly between barrel-house and gospel sounds. The harmonies, as throughout this album, are strong, and flute and acoustic guitar develop some lead melodies together very nicely. And, as a CD extra, this album offers a live version of “Silverado,” recorded in 1981 at the Winter Garden Theater in Dallas; it’s a fast-paced, riff-based number, heavy on the snare drum, with strong Hammond organ fills; if the guitar solo seems somewhat disorganized, hey, that’s live rock-and-roll!

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Today, Spartanburg is probably best known for three things. It is home to a large BMW factory; its Wofford College is the training-camp home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers (whose panther-head logo cleverly incorporates an outline of the states of North and South Carolina); and it gave the Marshall Tucker Band to the world. The “Carolina Dreams” album, the only MTB studio album to go platinum, shows this classic Southern rock band at their best. (Paul Haspel)

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Personnel:
Tommy Caldwell (bass, background vocals)
Toy Caldwell (lead guitar, steel guitar)
Doug Gray (vocals)
Jerry Eubanks (flute, saxophone, background vocals)
George McCorkle (guitar)
Paul Riddle (drums)
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Charlie Daniels (fiddle, background vocals on 05.)
Paul Hornsby (keyboards)
Jaimoe (percussion)
Chuck Leavell (piano on 04.)

Leo LaBranche – Horn section arrangements and trumpet on “Life In A Song” and “I Should Have Never Started Lovin’ You”
Dezso Lakatos – Tenor sax as part of the horn section.

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Tracklist:
01. Fly Like an Eagle (Toy Caldwell) 3.05
02. Heard It in a Love Song (Toy Caldwell) – 4:55
03. I Should Have Never Started Lovin’ You (Toy Caldwell/Gray/McCorkle) 6.50
04. Life In A Song (Eubanks/McCorkle) 3.23
05. Desert Skies (Toy Caldwell) 6.23
06. Never Trust A Stranger” (Tommy Caldwell) 5.14
07. Tell It To The Devil (Toy Caldwell) 6.27

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Still on the road:

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The Derek Trucks Band – Live At Georgia Theatre (2004)

FrontCover1.jpgLive at Georgia Theatre is the fifth album and first live album by American artist Derek Trucks and The Derek Trucks Band released in 2004.

This album is one of 10 “Live jam releases of this century” according to the August issue of Guitar One magazine. (by wikipedia)

Derek Trucks is a world-class slide guitarist, still only 24 at the time of this recording. Most know him as a guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band. But here, with a smoking group of collaborators, he plays an incendiary, soulful, and wildly adventurous set that challenges all the accepted rock paradigms. This is the record to turn the heads of those who haven’t gotten hip to Trucks’ bottleneck magic. This performance is so inspired, so utterly spellbinding, it transcends the genre classifications it employs to get the music across. This is a musical first to boot: this show marks the first time the quintet recorded together. Kofi Burbridge (B-3, keys, and flute) and vocalist Mike Mattison join Trucks, drummer Yonrico Scott, and bassist Todd Smallie. Master percussionist Count M’Butu from Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit is also on board for the gig. The band showcases only four tunes from its catalog and all of these come from Joyful Noise, its last album. The rest is a rolling plethora of jazz, funk, soul, Eastern Sufi jams, and blues tunes by Rahsaan Roland Kirk (“Volunteered Slavery”), Wayne Shorter (“Angola”), Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Feel So Bad”), Paul Pena (“Gonna Move”), Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (“Sahib Teri Bandi”), and Curtis Mayfield (“Freddie’s Dead”), among others.

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The jamming is tight and full of surprises, and there is no aimless guitar wankery. This is a band that plays like a single, flowing unit, where nuance, dynamic, and intuition are the order of the evening and the modus operandi for encountering and relaying this information to an audience. Trucks is its centerpiece, of course, but he understands the value and necessity of ensemble play. While there are no dogs on this two-hour smorgasbord, the standouts are the soulful rendition of “Gonna Move,” the awesome medley of Khan’s tunes “Sahib Teri Bandi” and “Maki Madni,” the guttersnipe funk of “For My Brother,” and “So Close, So Far Away.” Unfortunately, Live at Georgia Theatre seems to be one of those albums created for fans only. It has nothing to do with the music or musicians, and everything to do with marketing by the conglomerates. You can download it digitally, and you can order it in its physical form from the band’s website, but you can’t buy it in stores. What nonsense. The labels still don’t understand how to use the Internet’s potential. After all, wasn’t it At Fillmore East, the Allman Brothers’ third album, that put them into the mass consciousness and took them over the top? This is the right time for the Derek Trucks Band to issue a concert recording. The truth remains, however, that any way you cut it, this is a live album for the ages — it’s too bad only people with credit cards get to hear it. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Kofi Burbridge (keyboards, flute, vocals)
Mike Mattison (vocals)
Count M’Butu (percussion)
Yonrico Scott (drums, percussion, vocals)
Todd Smallie (bass, vocals)
Derek Trucks (guitar)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Kam-Ma-Lay” (Trucks) 8.53
02. Gonna Move (Pena) 6.29
03. Volunteered Slavery (Kirk) 4.36
04. Sahib Teri Bandi/Maki Madni (Khan) 15.21
05. Leaving Trunk (Estes) 4.58
06. I Wish I Knew (Taylor/Dallas) 5.29
07. Angola (Shorter) 10.12
08. Feel So Bad (Willis) 7.41

CD 2:
01. For My Brother (Trucks) 13.28
02. Sonido Alegre (Victoriano Ramirez) 15.14
03. Joyful Noise (Trucks) 11.58
04. So Close, So Far Away (Burbridge) 5.53
05. Freddie’s Dead (Mayfield) 10.20

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Blackberry Smoke – The Whippoorwill (2012)

FrontCover1The Whippoorwill is the third studio album by American southern/country rock band Blackberry Smoke. It was released on August 14, 2012 through Southern Ground Records in the North America and on February 17, 2014 through Earache Records in Europe. The latter contained three additional live tracks; “Country Side of Life”, “Pretty Little Lie” and “Six Ways to Sunday”. (by wikipedia)

Atlanta, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke does upward of 250 shows a year, relentlessly crossing and re-crossing the various club, bar, and festival circuits, and the group’s classic Southern rock sound, which recalls bands like the Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd, has been honed to a sharp edge by the constant playing. This is a solid band with a good rhythm section in bassist Richard Turner and drummer Brit Turner, a stand-out keyboardist in Brandon Still, and plenty of electric guitar work from Paul Jackson and lead singer Charlie Starr. Starr’s voice is really what makes Blackberry Smoke more than a Southern rock nostalgia act, though. He’s a country singer with a rock attitude and heart, and when the song’s good, and the band’s on board, this is a top-tier group who merge country and rock so seamlessly that it’s both at once.

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There are several very good songs on The Whippoorwill, the band’s debut for Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label, including the chugging “Six Ways to Sunday,” which opens the set, the tell-it-straight-like-it-is small town anti-anthem “One Horse Town” (which sounds like Steve Earle in his heyday), and the cranky, defiant, and determined “Leave a Scar,” any of which deserve to be in regular rotation on contemporary country stations, but probably won’t be because they sound more like Muscle Shoals productions than they do Nashville. Think Steve Earle fronting Lynyrd Skynyrd. Great stuff, ragged and real, and yes, there are a lot of cliché stances and phrases woven into these songs, but Starr’s voice and this band’s loose yet crisp playing style pulls it all off more often than not. (by Steve Leggett)

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The second coming of Lynyrd Skynyrd… with some Black Crows, Allman Brothers and ZZ Top tossed in for good measure. An amazing album with no filler songs. I can listen to this from start to finish again and again. (Tim Pickering)

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Personnel:
Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals)
Charlie Starr (vocals, guitar, pedal steel-guitar banjo)
Brandon Still (keyboards)
Brit Turner (drums, percussion)
Richard Turner (bass, vocals)
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Clay Cook (percussion, harmonium on 04)
Matt Mangano (guitar on 04)
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background vocals:
Maureen Murphy – Lo Carter – Kyla Jade (on 03.,09.,12.,13.)
Sarah Dugas (on 09.)
Arnold McCuller (on 06.,10.,13.)

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Tracklist:
01. Six Ways To Sunday (Starr) 3.27
02. Pretty Little Lie (Meadows/Starr) 3.35
03. Everybody Knows She’s Mine (Starr) 3.50
04. One Horse Town (Meadows/Spillman/Starr) 4.16
05. Ain’t Much Left Of Me (Murphy/Jackson/Starr/Still/B.Turner/R.Turner) 4.59
06. The Whippoorwill (Starr) 5.32
07. Lucky Seven (Meadows/Jackson/Starr/Still/B.Turner/R.Turner) 4.17
08. Crimson Moon (Brown/Mangano/Starr) 4.01
10. Ain’t Got The Blues (Starr) 4.04
11. Sleeping Dogs (Kennedy/ackson/Starr/Still/B.Turner/R.Turner) 3.22
12. Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost (Starr) 3.46
13. Up The Road (Starr) 5.53

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Thanks a lot to the greygoose, a woman with a real great taste for good music !

Drive-By Truckers – The Dirty South (2004)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Dirty South is the fifth album by Alabamian alternative country/Southern rock group Drive-By Truckers, released in 2004. The Dirty South is Drive-By Truckers’ second concept album. Like its predecessor, Southern Rock Opera, the album examines the state of the South, and unveils the hypocrisy, irony, and tragedy that continues to exist.

“Where The Devil Don’t Stay” was inspired by a poem by Mike Cooley’s uncle Ed Cooley, and was recorded in one take.

Patterson Hood’s “Tornadoes” was originally written in 1988 in reaction to the closing concert for the Adam’s House Cat Nightmare Tour. The Nightmare Tour set list was composed almost exclusively of songs containing metaphors or imagery of trains, but the lack of the tour’s success forced Hood and his band to abandon the concept and start afresh. Hood read an eyewitness account of the tornado in the local paper the next day and wrote “Tornadoes” after reading her statement that “it sounded like a train.”

Isbell’s “The Day John Henry Died,” retells the story of John Henry.

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“Puttin’ People on the Moon”, written by Hood, tells the story of a town downriver of Huntsville and their “rocket envy” or economic depression due to the negative environmental and economic effects of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Mike Cooley’s “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” recounts the celebrated Sun Records, Sam Phillips, and the music industry in general.

“The Sands of Iwo Jima” recounts Hood’s experiences with his great uncle while growing up in North Alabama. Questioning the veracity of the movie, his uncle answers he never saw John Wayne on the sands of Iwo Jima.

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Isbell’s second track on the album, “Danko/Manuel,” is a departure from the usual southern gothic lyrical style written by Cooley and Hood. Originally Isbell tried to tell the story of Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and The Band’s demise, but found the scope of the concept too difficult to actually do justice to their story, and instead shifted the concept to a telling of life of a musician through the eyes and actions of Danko and Manuel. Isbell stated that the horn parts for the song came to him in a dream.

“The Dirty South” contains a three song suite (“The Boys From Alabama,” “Cottonseed” and “The Buford Stick”) about Sheriff Buford Pusser. “The Boys From Alabama” was inspired by the misconceptions and “really bad movies” of the Redneck Mafia and recounts the movie “Walking Tall”‘ from a “different point of view.” Hood felt that telling the story from “the bad guy’s” point of view would be more interesting. Cooley’s “Cottonseed” tells a story of corruption, crime, killing, greed, fixed elections, guns, drugs, prostitution and alcohol and uses subtle imagery to provide a very negative interpretation of Pusser. Hood’s “The Buford Stick” completes the suite by providing examples of the negative effects of Pusser’s actions while offering a less glorified view of the mythology surrounding Pusser.

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Cooley’s last song on the album is a story about a father who instills a love of racing in his son. “Daddy’s Cup” is the only song on “The Dirty South” that does not revolve around a negative experience, instead offering a lighter touch to the overall dirty feel of the album.

Isbell has explained that “Never Gonna Change” is simply about a stubborn North Alabama man who “refuses to live in fear,” which Isbell goes on to explain are rather rare.

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“Lookout Mountain” was written around 1990 by Hood, and can be heard in its original incarnation on Adam’s House Cat’s LP Town Burned Down. It was a last minute addition to the album, beating out another Hood song entitled “Goode’s Field Road.” “Goode’s Field Road” was eventually rerecorded for 2008’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, however the cut that was dropped from The Dirty South managed to see the light of day on The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities. The version as it appears on The Dirty South was recorded in one take.

The Dirty South ends with Isbell’s “Goddamn Lonely Love.” Though described by Isbell as a love song, “Goddamn Lonely Love” heavily and painfully delves into the loneliness associated with love. Isbell wrote the song for Shonna Tucker. (by wikipedia)

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When you’ve named your band the Drive-By Truckers and your first three albums are called Pizza Deliverance, Gangstabilly, and Alabama Ass Whuppin’, you might have a hard time at first convincing folks that you aren’t joking. But the Drive-By Truckers proved that they were most definitely not kidding with 2001’s brilliant double-disc Southern Rock Opera, and 2003’s Decoration Day actually upped the ante on what might have been a fluke masterpiece with its dark and thoroughly absorbing chronicle of hard times in the American South. With The Dirty South, the DBTs have crafted an equally effective companion piece to Decoration Day that plays on the gangsta rap reference of its title with a set of vividly rendered portraits of life along the margins of respectability below the Mason-Dixon line, from laid-off factory rats dealing drugs to feed their kids to Alabama gangsters determined to shut down the cops who made their daughters cry. From the first low, metallic stomps from Brad Morgan’s kick drum on “Where the Devil Don’t Stay,” it’s clear that The Dirty South isn’t going to be a good-time party most of the way, and while there are some brilliant anthemic rockers on this album (most notably “The Day John Henry Died,” “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac,” and “Never Gonna Change”), and Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Jason Isbell have grown into a force to be reckoned with as both guitarists and songwriters, there’s more than a little blood, fear, doubt, shame, and simple human tragedy at the heart of these stories.

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While much of America might be laughing at “You might be a redneck…” jokes, the Drive-By Truckers aren’t about to let anyone forget the harsh truth behind growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in this country, and the tough, muscular force of their music only sharpens the bite of their stories. They can also turn down the amps and still hit you in the heart, especially on “Danko/Manuel” and “Daddy’s Cup,” and David Barbe’s production gives this band the full-bodied clarity they’ve always deserved. Believe it — the Drive-By Truckers are the best, smartest, and most soulful hard rock band to emerge in a very long time, and while The Dirty South isn’t always good for laughs, it has too many great stories and too much fierce, passionate rock & roll for anyone who cares about such things to dare pass it up. (by Mark Deming)

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Personnel:
Mike Cooley (vocals, guitar, banjo on 06. + 08., harmonica on 06.)
Patterson Hood (vocals, guitar, piano on 02 – 14.)
Jason Isbell (vocals, (guitar, piano on 02., 07. + 08. organ on 14., mellotron on 07.)
Brad Morgan (drums, percussion)
Shonna Tucker (bass, background  vocals)
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David Barbe (piano on 04., 06., organ on 08, background vocals on 13.)
Clay Leverett (background vocals on 02.)
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The Minor Hill Singers (background  vocals on 01.):
Jason Isbell – Kimberly Morgan – Shonna Tucker
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The State Line Chain Gang (percussion 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Where The Devil Don’t Stay (Cooley) 5.18
02. Tornadoes (Hood) 4.13
03. The Day John Henry Died (Isbell) 3.46
04. “Puttin’ People on the Moon” Patterson Hood 4:55
05. Carl Perkins’ Cadillac (Cooley) 5.24
06. The Sands Of Iwo Jima (Hood) 4.10
07. Danko/Manuel (Isbell) 5.43
08. The Boys From Alabama (Hood) 4.24
09. Cottonseed (Cooley) 6.20
10. The Buford Stick (Hood) 4.40
11. Daddy’s Cup (Cooley) 5.53
12. Never Gonna Change (Isbell) 5.23
13. Lookout Mountain (Hood) 5.00
14. Goddamn Lonely Love (Isbell) 4.55

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