The Walkabouts – Setting The Woods On Fire (1994)

FrontCover1This stalwart Northwestern quartet stands apart from the pack thanks to the wide-ranging keyboards of Glenn Slater and the plaintive/gruff vocal poles held by Carla Torgerson and lyricist Chris Eckman. While Setting the Woods on Fire’s disposition in pensive and vaguely ominous throughout, there’s a full range of material to be found here. “Sand and Gravel” is a somber and resolute tune with a stately vocal by Torgerson. Eckman steps to the fore on “Old Crow,” a Exile On Main Street-like rocker with Slater making like Nicky Hopkins on the keys while Eckman whips slide guitar runs across the muck like Keith Richards’s Yank cousin. “Hole in the Mountain” brings the two voices together over chugging Stones beat and brass from guests the Tiny Hat Orchestra Horns. (by Steven Stolder)

Arguably one of the greatest records ever made by an American rock band, without a doubt one of the eeriest. Previous Walkabouts albums skirted around the dark twistedness of rural America but never dove into those murky waters they way they do here. Fire is the lyrical metaphor that recurs throughout the songs, from the purifying flames of the revenge drama “Firetrap,” to the nuclear holocaust of “Hole in the Mountain.” Musically, the work recalls powerful guitar jangle bands like True West and the Dream Syndicate, with organ adding an especially macabre touch throughout. Chris Eckman’s allusive imagery is gripping from start to finish, from the last-chance desperation of “Good Luck Morning,” to the rapt, Siouxsie-esque horror of “Nightdrive,” to the touching, steel-guitar driven “Promised.” This is one of those rare albums where there literally isn’t one weak track. If “Twin Peaks,” the novels of Russell Banks or the music of darkly literate bands like X ever struck you, you need to get this record.(by an amazon costumer)

TheWalkaboutsDespite taking its title from a Hank Williams song, Setting the Woods on Fire ranks among the Walkabouts’ most rock-based efforts. A sweeping, stately record, it owes a great deal to the Stones’ Exile on Main St., particularly on the boogie shuffle “Old Crow” and the horn-powered, R&B-flavored “Hole in the Mountain.” (by Jason Ankeny)

Chris Eckman (vocals, guitar)
Terri Moeller (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Glenn Slater (keyboards, accordion, loops)
Carla Torgerson (vocals, guitar, cello)
Michael Wells (bass, harmonica)
Larry Barrett (mandolin on 11. + 12., lap steel-guitar on 04. + 05)
Andrew Hare (pedal steel-guitar on 12.)
Bruce Wirth (violin on 07.)
Tiny Hot Orchestra Horns (on 09.):
Mark Condelaria (saxophone)
Marcus Membrane (trumpet)
Zach Permeson (trombone)
“Dutch Beef” Sout (saxophone)

01. Good Luck Morning 4.13
02. Firetrap 5.39
03. Bordertown 5.51
04. Feeling No Pain 5.12
05. Old Crow 4.26
06. Almost Wisdom 4.45
07. Sand And Gravel 6.34
08. Nightdrive 5.38
09. Hole In The Mountain 3.49
10. Pass Me On Over 4.10
11. Up In The Graveyard 6.12
12. Promised 6.33

Music: Chris Eckman – Terri Moeller – Glenn Slater – Carla Torgerson – Michael Wells
Lyrics: Chris Eckman