KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Fahey, John – “Hitomi” – [Important Records] (33rpm)

Jawbone   10/24/2006   12-inch, Country

At times shimmering, ghostly, hypnotic and drenched in reverb. At times bluesy in a slow, zen, discordant way. John Fahey’s last album to be released while he was still among the living, was his first to be self produced and self recorded since 1961. Supposedly, a live recording (there is no audience noise), the album lopes along at a very relaxed pace, until side 4, when it takes off in a free jazz workout known as “A History of Tokyo Rail Traction” (complete with locomotive sound effects). This is the only non-solo piece on the album, where Fahey is accompanied by Tim Knight and Rob Shrivener on keyboards and guitars.

After 40 years of recording and 40 albums, Hitomi was originally released in 2000, just months before Fahey’s death at age 61 after undergoing sextuple bypass surgery. A few postmortem releases have come out since, but this remains an interesting final testament from the father of American Primitive Guitar.

–Jawbone

Goodbye, Babylon – [coll] – [Dust-to-Digital]

Art Crimes   6/23/2005   CD, Country

Probably the definitive collection of American religious-themed music since the dawn of recorded sound. Producer Lance Ledbetter founded the Dust-to-Digital label to release this project, calling on experts from the worlds of American music scholarship and record collecting to find the most idiosyncratic and heartfelt spiritual music drawn from all manner of styles, including gospel, folk, country, blues, and jazz, as well as fiery sermons delivered by ministers who often were just as popular as the musical artists of the time. Over 150 tracks span the 6 CDs here, mostly transferred from 78 rpm records, with the sermons taking up the entirety of the sixth CD. And drawing on his experience as a radio programmer, Mr. Ledbetter sequenced each disc by themes, rather than genre, resulting in a huge variety of styles on each disc, far more rewarding for extended listening than a purely chronological or genre-specific collection would have been. As if that wasn’t enough, the set is accompanied by a massive paperbound book that provides biographies of every artist, as well as useful historical and/or cultural information to give some context to each selection. It’s nearly impossible to single out any individual tracks as standouts, given the overall quality and quantity of the contents, but suffice to say that those who enjoy the full spectrum of American music forms will find plenty to get excited about here.

Best of Broadside [coll] – [Smithsonian/Folkways]

David Richoux   1/16/2005   CD, Country

Ah! The Early 60’s when everybody wanted to be a folksinger… magazines like Broadside were everywhere around colleges, camps and coffeehouses. They printed the music and words with chords so anybody could learn the latest songs. It was not a bad thing to be a folkie then – it was even hip! These tracks are somewhat lesser known pieces by singer-songwriters that had some fame (Reynolds, Ochs, Ian, Seeger and “Blind Boy Grunt”) and some not so famous. Some tracks are a bit tedious by modern standards, but that was the style. A few cuts are closer to delta blues and the last track is much more dramatic with a full band and the story of rape revenge murder and women’s liberation. *review by David Richoux

Holland Band – “Truck Liedjes Vol 2 ” – [H C D Music Productions]

Studebaker Hawk   1/16/2005   CD, Country

All Time Favorite Dutch Truck Driving Songs (Volume 2)!
The Ones That Were Not Quite Favorite Enough To Make Volume One!
By A Completely Unknown Band!
Singing in Dutch! You Might Understand One Word In Twenty!
Check’em ALL out! (LIEDJES = Lye Ghezz, sort of. That means Song. Truck means Truck, dammit! for any other pronunciation talk to Ned Walker… )

Tien-Vier Goede Vriend! (Ten-Four, Good Buddy!) *review by Studebaker Hawk

Asylum Street Spankers – “Spanker Madness ” – [Spanks-A-Lot Records]

Studebaker Hawk   1/16/2005   CD, Country

grass,…. wine,….. beer, …..hash…… on this happy tribute to the joys of (mostly) natural intoxication. While these are mostly new songs, the style and subjects go way back to the jug bands, blues shouters and such from the early 20th century. (and the skiffle groups, hip folk singers and revivalists of the 1950s and 60s) with lots of harmonica, slide guitar, kazoo, group singing, trad jazz and much more.. must have been quite a recording session!
The Spankers are from Austin and they know their loco-weed very well. Most emphatically Politically INcorrect – there is only one very tiny “bad word” on this, but the concept is pushing the edge, as it should be. .. just have a lot of fun wit it!
*review by Studebaker Hawk

Riley, Steve & the Mamou Playb – “Happytown ” – [Rounder Records]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Country

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys are of the generation that followed the modernization and revival of “Cajun” music by Beausoleil, Zachary Richard and a few others – Steve has taken the style just a little closer to mainstream rock using electric guitar and some electronics. Just a bit. They are still an exciting band, especially in a live setting. This recording covers a lot of different styles from straight old traditional Cajun waltzes to some eerie & dark swamp funk. Instros and some vocals – in Cajun and some English. *review by David Richoux

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