The snowstorm that blessed Harrisonburg this weekend prevented me traveling to the studio to produce a new Wavelength episode. As it turns out, I will also be absent from the studio February 6 and February 13. Since I won’t be producing a new show until February 20, I don’t expect to produce a new Wavelength blog entry before then.
Yesterday on “Wavelength” I continued the approach I have been taking the past few weeks—playing two songs each from selected favorite albums. Here’s today’s playlist.
Let me recommend five of the records I featured on the show.
Sam Cooke—Night Beat. About a year before he was shot to death, Sam Cooke was reaching the peak of his powers. Prior to that time, his albums were simply collections of singles. With “Night Beat” he put together a coherent long playing record, the only one he created in his all-too-short life. It can be heard on Lala here. And here is the All-Music Guide review.
Mavis Staples—We’ll Never Turn Back. I named Mavis Staples’ record “We’ll Never Turn Back” the Wavelength record of the year in 2007. It’s a wonderful tribute to the American Civil Rights movement, recovering some powerful justice songs. And, Mavis can bring it! It can be heard on Lala here. And here is the All-Music Guide review.
John Trudell—AKA Grafitti Man. Several years ago, I watched a moving documentary on the Native American social activist John Trudell. The film ends with treatment of Trudell’s poetry/music. I decided to check it out and discovered this record, that was released in 1993. It’s kind of a version of rap, with mostly spoken voice and a lot of driving instrumentation. Trudell minces few words in his critique of empire and his call for liberation. It can be heard on Rhapsody here. And here is the All-Music Guide review.
Ray Wylie Hubbard—A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C) (Dig). Ray Wylie has become a senior figure in the Texas music scene, but his energy has yet to be diminished, as seen in this brand new (January 2010) record. It ranks among his best. As one reviewer states: “His songs possess the tenderness of a poet, the empathy of a historian, and the raw nerve of a card shark.” It can be heard on Lala here. And here is the All-Music Guide review.
Bruce Cockburn—Live. I’ve long been a Bruce Cockburn fan; I love his combination of progressive politics and religious faith. And he’s a fine writer and great guitarist. In fact, it was back in April 1989 that I saw him in concert. He was in the midst of a very long tour at that point—the music from that tour is captured on this fine live record. It can be heard on Lala here. And here is the All-Music Guide review.
Yesterday’s Wavelength, like the previous couple, ended up being an eclectic show where I simply grabbed a bagful of albums on my way out the door to the station and played two songs from each record. Like the others, this show turned out pretty well because they are such great records. I hope to put together some thematic shows before long (several are in the works), but they do take more time. Here’s the playlist.
Let me recommend five of the records I featured on the show.
(1) Blaze Foley, Cold Cold World
Blaze Foley was a true Texas character, a hard-drinking, hard-living, itinerant songwriter who died violently about twenty years ago, but whose music lives on. Here’s a long, fascinating article—the account that alerted me to Blaze’s life and music: No Depression
This record, “Cold Cold World,” was released after Blaze’s death. It was produced with a great deal of added instrumentation by the great Gurf Morlix. It is hard to find, but it can be heard on Napster: Blaze Foley and the Beaver Valley Boys, “Cold, Cold World” (Napster)
(2) Gillian Welch, Revival
Gillian Welch is indeed one of our favorites, post-modern old time Appalachian music. She has not recorded a great deal, but all of her records are quite good. Perhaps her best is this first one. Here’s the All-Music Guide review.
The record may be heard here: Gillian Welch, “Revival” (Lala)
(3) Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights
Maybe 15 years ago or so I was reading one of those lists of the greatest rock and roll records of all time. It was populated with the usual suspects except near the top was a record by artists I had never heard of—Richard and Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out the Lights. My curiosity piqued, I did what I could to learn more about it. I tracked down the record on vinyl and discovered that it deserved its accolades. It’s still not widely known, but it should be. Here’s the All-Music Guide review.
The record may be heard here: Richard and Linda Thompson, “Shoot Out the Lights” (Rhapsody)
(4) Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Always Say Please & Thank You
Not long after I first started to produce this radio show, I was stopped on the sidewalk by my friend Steve Cessna who said he liked the show and that I might enjoy his brother’s band. Steve kindly loaned me a couple of CDs, and he was certainly right. Slim’s second record, “Always Say Please and Thank You,” remains my favorite. Here’s the All-Music Guide review.
The record may be heard here: Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, “Always Say Please and Thank You” (Lala)
(5) The Walkabouts. Satisfied Mind
The Walkabouts are a fascinating band. They’ve been around since the early 1980s, operating out of Seattle as part of the fertile contemporary rock scene of that great city. They have been hugely popular in Europe and record for the fine German label, Glitterhouse. But they have never been that well known in the states. Too bad. Their many records are all good, and have quite a bit of variety. My favorite is “Satisfied Mind,” which is kind of alt-county (in that sense quite a bit different from their others). Here’s the All-Music Guide review.
Unfortunately, “Satisfied Mind” is not currently listenable on-line as near as I can tell (except for 30-second samples at Amazon—follow the “Satisfied Mind” link above). Here is the Walkabouts page on Lala that provides access to many of their other records.
My blogging on popular music connected with my radio show “Wavelength” (Saturdays from 3:00 to 6:00 pm Eastern; 91.7fm and online at wemcradio.org) has been nonexistent since July 2008. A New Year’s resolution (or maybe “New Decade’s resolution”) is to get going on this again. I will keep my sights low in hopes of making it sustainable. Basically I will, once a week hopefully, offer a bit of commentary and some links related to my most recent show.
If you have any comments, reactions, or suggestions, please share them!
Yesterday’s was one of those shows where I just grab a bunch of CDs as I head to the radio station and see what finds its way on the air. Here is the playlist. It worked well to play two songs each of a number of albums.
Let me draw your attention to five of the albums I featured that I especially like.
Lyle Lovett. Step Inside This House. This record, released back in 1998, is unusual for Lovett in being all covers. He is in great voice; the songs I featured on the show were both written by Townes Van Zandt and quite beautifully rendered. Here’s the All-Music Guide review and to listen to it on-line go to Lala here.
Patty Loveless. Mountain Soul II. Patty Loveless is a bit mainstream for Wavelength, but she has released several more traditional records in recent years that I really like. Mountain Soul came out in 2001 and was terrific. So is this follow-up, released in 2009. All-Music Guide’s review is here and to listen to it on Lala go here.
Townes Van Zandt. In Pain. According to many serious listeners of Townes Van Zandt’s music, his best recordings are those from concerts rather than in the studio. His early record, Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas often is mentioned as his best ever (listen to it on Lala). In Pain was recorded while he was on tour in Europe not long before his 1996 death. He sounds pretty good and the songs are some of his best. The title accurately conveys the tone of the music. All-Music Guide’s review is here, but In Pain does not appear to be available on Lala.
Eliza Gilkyson. Beautiful World. One of the great singer-songwriters in American music, Eliza Gilkyson is too little known. This 2009 record is one of her strongest. She sings potent songs of politics and love. All-Music Guide’s review is here and to listen to it on Lala go here.
Jimmy LaFave. Trail. I recently discovered this Texan with a beautiful voice and heart-oriented sensibility. Trail is a two-CD live record from fairly early in LaFave’s career (1998). He sings a number of Bob Dylan songs, several other sensitive covers, and his own compositions (about half the songs). The Dylan covers are terrific—they sound like Jimmy LaFave songs, not Bob Dylan knock-offs. All-Music Guide’s review is here and to listen to it on Lala go here.