Friday, February 12, 2010

Crabb Music Consortium Reviews-Americana

Golden Smog-Stay Golden Smog The Rykodisc Years (Rhino-2008) A busman's holiday of sorts, Golden Smog made two albums and an EP for Rykodisc to which half of Down By The Mainstream is used and half of Strange Tales. Mainstream was the better of the two and On Golden Smog wasn't even used and Another Fine Day was on Lost Highway and the folks at Rhino didn't want to spring to license that album. Which is a shame since AFD was their best.
Made up of members of The Jayhawks, Wilco, Soul Asylum, Honeydogs, Run Westy Run and later getting Jody Stephens of Big Star to help out on drums. For the Ryko years V was by far their best song which would have fitted perfectly on Hollywood Town Hall. MVP: Gary Louris who could harmonize with the best of them. The weakest link: Kraig Johnson of Run Westy Run who sang like he wanted to be someplace else. And caught in the middle: Jeff Tweety, still into country but would get warped forever by OK Computer and gave the world Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Wilco became larger than life. Grade C+

Tennessee Ernie Ford-Vintage Collections (Capitol 1996) One of the greatest gospel singers of all time, Ford was always very good (and better) at jump blues, swing and country music. In fact, Mule Train might well be the very first Americana songs ever recorded. Country Junction owes a lot to Bob Wills and Hambone shows Ford had a ear for good novelty. Also got good female counterpoint in You're My Sugar with Kay Starr and Helen O'Connell on Hank Sr's Hey Good Looking. He never did top Mule Train, nor Sixteen Tons which solidified him as a great country singer but once he started doing hymms and gospel numbers people remember him more. This collection focuses the majority of songs from 1949 to 1953, with only three selections after that includes 1955's Sixteen Tons, 1956's First Born which hints of a more gospel direction and 1965's Hicktown. Nothing wrong with his gospel albums but when the man did swing and country, he was just as good as the rest were, and more distinctive with that baritone he had. Grade A-

George Jones-Early Hits-The Starday Recordings (Time Life 2007) Jones was destined for stardom with Why Baby Why and although people remember him more for the ballads, I thought that his uptempo numbers were even better. Mercury has a much better overview with the 2cd Cup Of Sorrow but left off his hard rocking Revenoor Man which was demoted to a forgotten budget cd The Classic Years. But in the mid 50s, Jones was a hard core honky tonker and with that crew cut he simply looked evil back then. And yes, he had his Hank on too, listen to his first session outtake For Sale Or Lease. But with Don't Stop The Music or Just Once More, that was Jones in his own persona and it would take him to bigger hits for United Aritists and Epic years later. Grade B+