Ride of the Tarzana Kid

ome time back I commented on Jimmy Buffet’s cover of John Sebastian’s “Stories We Could Tell.” It’s time I caught up with the original, and the phenomenal album it comes from.John Sebastian is most famous for writing and singing the theme song for television’s “Welcome Back Kotter.” A truly forgettable song, it was a far cry from the jug-band roots which led to the formation of “The Lovin’ Spoonful” in 1965. The Spoonful’s finely crafted lyrics and skillful instrumentation still sound good three and a half decades after the group’s dissolution in 1968.

Some time back I commented on Jimmy Buffet’s cover of John Sebastian’s “Stories We Could Tell.” It’s time I caught up with the original, and the phenomenal album it comes from.

John Sebastian's 'Tarzana Kid'John Sebastian is most famous for writing and singing the theme song for television’s “Welcome Back Kotter.” A truly forgettable song, it was a far cry from the jug-band roots which led to the formation of “The Lovin’ Spoonful” in 1965. The Spoonful’s finely crafted lyrics and skillful instrumentation still sound good three and a half decades after the group’s dissolution in 1968.

Sebastian’s solo career never really attracted popular attention. It’s incomprehensible to me that “Tarzana Kid” never even registered on the charts. Perhaps it’s just an indicator of my eclecticism, but “Tarzana Kid” is on my very shortest ‘desert island’ album list.

When I sat down to write this, I couldn’t find my vinyl copy; sadly, it’s never been released on CD. Panic ensued; my office was pretty thoroughly rearranged before I discovered it amongst some recently (read ‘during the last 10 years’) played albums. As soon as I replace my tired old turntable, I can build that entertainment center and organize my 1500 slices of vinyl.

“Tarzana Kid” is a slice of Americana, long before ‘Americana’ was a buzzword in the descriptions of bands like Sonvolt. Sebastian combines a delightful selection of his own compositions with country classics and traditional tunes. It’s a testament to his writing and arranging abilities that songs by reggae great Jimmy Cliff and rock icon Lowell George flow smoothly through tunes written for this album to traditional tracks and a new arrangement of a Spoonful hit.

  • Emmylou Harris's 'Pieces of the Sky'Sitting in Limbo — written by Jimmy Cliff and Guilly Bright (variously credited as ‘Gully Bright’) for Cliff’s 1972 album “The Harder They Come” which introduced the oft-recorded “Many Rivers To Cross”, this quiet unassuming arrangement sets the pace for the album. It reminds me quite a bit of Lester Flatt’s singing of Johnny and Roseanne Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone.” The two guitarists on this track bring a wealth of experience and tangential potential: Russell Dashiell’s only solo album (“Elevator”, 1978) featured Doug Clifford and Stu Cook of “Credence Clearwater Revival.” Amos Garrett has recorded with Todd Rundgren (on “Something/Anything?“), Emmylou Harris (on “Pieces of the Sky“), Eric Clapton, Elvin Bishop, Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur, Jerry Garcia, and Paul Butterfield.

    Paul Butterfield's 'Better Days'
    Paul Butterfield’s “Better Days” was the album which introduced me to Amos Garrett’s fluid guitar playing, neatly juxtaposed to Geoff Muldaur’s flashy technical prowess and Geoff’s then wife Maria‘s scrapy-but-perfect fiddle, and anything-but-scrapy-but-still-perfect voice. Another piece of vinyl to be resurrected, this will most certainly resurface here at EGBDF.
  • Friends Again — A Sebastian composition, it features the interesting contrast of his banjo and backing (but not background) vocals by the Pointer Sisters. More upbeat than “Limbo”, “Friends” is a nice segue into the “Little Feat” cover to follow.
  • Dixie Chicken — Covering a song by a song-writing giant like Lowell George can be a tricky proposition; but when said writer plays guitar and sings on your cover, it provides a certain seal of approval. Include the angelic voice of EmmyLou Harris, and you have a version of one of Little Feat’s best songs which I like even better than the original. The lyrics just seem more at home in Sebastian’s folk-infused surroundings than the original funky/bouncy “Little Feat” arrangement.
     Well it's been a year since she ran away Guess that guitar player sure could play He was always handy with a song I guess she liked to sing along Later on in the lobby of the Commodore Hotel I chanced to meet a bartender who said he knew her well And as he handed me a drink he began to hum a song And all the boys there at the bar began to sign along

    Lowell George’s lyrics told tales, usually from a slightly skewed perspective. Perhaps it was the influence of his time with Frank Zappa’s “Mothers of Invention.” Zappa convinced George to form his own band after hearing “Willin'” (recently called the best truck driving song ever.) This track is also the first appearance of the tragic Jim Gordon on drums.

  • Stories We Could Tell — A simple melodic ballad with lyrics designed to evoke memories of times past and opportunities missed, but with a hope of those still to come. Jimmy Buffet’s excellent cover surfaced here in Paris or Alaska?. Barely discernible background vocals courtesy of Phil Everly.
  • Face of Appalachia — With music co-written by Lowell George and John Sebastian, Sebastian’s lyrics weave a heart-rending picture of an old man’s struggle to impart his childhood memories to his grandson; memories of places and people who no longer exist; of an era long gone. With the largest ensemble of any of the album’s tracks, this conveys a larger, fuller sound as well; almost as if it wanted a full orchestration. Songs this good deserve more attention than it ever received. Fortunately, it’s available on Sebastian’s “John Sebastian's 'Greatest Hits'Best Of” album, which also includes “Sitting in Limbo” and “Stories We Could Tell.” Witty and sensitive fiddle by the infamous David Lindley.
  • Wild Wood Flower — Every folk or bluegrass guitarist wants to record a distinctive version of this traditional tune. John injects a definite jazz feeling, swinging just enough to remove this version from the ‘bluegrass’ genre and make it his own. Fun and spritely, unlike the fiery or morose feel of most bluegrass versions.
  • Wild About My Lovin’ — Another traditional tune, covered by the Spoonful as well. This version reminds me quite a bit of my father’s jam sessions with his brothers and sister when I was a child. There’s so much joy, and an unmistakeable wry humor. Harder-than-it-sounds guitar opens the track, and holds its own throughout. Mandolin and slide guitar delivered by the venerable Ry Cooder.
  • Singing the Blues — Never successful as a singer, this song’s composer Melvin Endsley saw his tunes recorded by such artists as Guy Mitchell, Andy Williams, Paul McCartney, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Stonewall Jackson and Ricky Skaggs. Despite my indoctrination into Marty Robbins’ version as a very small child, this remains my favorite version.
  • Sportin’ Life — This sounds more like a traditional tune, and “Wild About My Lovin'” sounds like something the Spoonful would have concocted. In reality, it’s the other way ’round. “Sportin’ Life” was written as a collaborative effort by the members of the Spoonful the year it was recorded. This cover, spare and simple, is about the lyrics; and the lyrics are a bleak blues of a misspent life.
  • Harpoon — The second instrumental on the album, this is a fun, albeit slightly disorganized track. The closest thing to a disappointment on “Tarzana Kid”, it sounds like it couldn’t decide whether to be rock, blues, or jazz, and misses just a bit on all fronts. Not unlistenable, mostly because the lead is John’s harmonica, but not up to the fine standards set by the rest of the cuts, and not really in sync with the feel of the album.

The strings on the album were arranged by David Paich, who founded “Toto” in 1978. David is the son of pianist and arranger Marty Paich, who worked with such jazz luminaries as Art Pepper and Mel Torm

Fair Summer Evenings

anci Griffith is a poet of the highest caliber. It’s an added benefit that she puts her poetry to beautiful music and sings it with an angel’s voice.I first heard that voice in 1989, when my sister suggested I listen to “More Than A Whisper” from Nanci’s 1986 album “Last Of The True Believers.” I immediately thought of James Taylor – the delicate style of guitar picking, the flow of the melody, the interplay between vocals and guitar. Like many of her tunes, “More Than A Whisper” is a cry for a little reason and sense in the usually irrational arena of love.

Nanci Griffith is a poet of the highest caliber. It’s an added benefit that she puts her poetry to beautiful music and sings it with an angel’s voice.

I first heard that voice in 1989, when my sister suggested I listen to “More Than A Whisper” from Nanci’s 1986 album “Nanci Griffith's 'Last of the True Believers'Last Of The True Believers.” I immediately thought of James Taylor – the delicate style of guitar picking, the flow of the melody, the interplay between vocals and guitar. Like many of her tunes, “More Than A Whisper” is a cry for a little reason and sense in the usually irrational arena of love.

And like many of her finest tunes, “More Than A Whisper” was included in her first live album, “Nanci Griffith's 'One Fair Summer Evening'One Fair Summer Evening.” Recorded at the Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant on two summer evenings in 1988, the songs are presented in their purest form; simple acoustic numbers, standing on their beautiful melodies and touching lyrics rather than fancy instrumentation. It’s easy to forget, listening to the richness of each song, that the only instruments played are Nanci’s guitar, long-time compatriot James Hooker’s keyboards, and Denny Bixby’s bass.

While many live albums eliminate the between-song patter, part of the appeal of “One Fair Summer Evening” is Nanci’s commentary; why songs were written, who they’re about, and in one case, what the little ‘ding’ is during the quiet instrumental sections. Her stories of great-aunts and uncles, her love for Ireland, and the loves and lives of her own loved ones, all flow naturally between and around the songs chronicling those same events.

Two new songs were introduced on the album. “Deadwood, South Dakota” is a quietly biting commentary on the plight of native Americans, told through the events in a small-town drug store when news arrives that Crazy Horse, enemy of the people, has been killed. The sarcasm of the chorus is atypical of Griffith’s lyrics, but apropos to the poignant tone of the track:

 And the gold she lay cold in their pockets And the sun she sets down on the trees And they thank the Lord for the land that they live in Where the white man does as he pleases

The second of the new tunes, “I Would Bring You Ireland”, is a ‘thank you’ to the people of Ireland. Nanci explains that the Irish have always made her feel especially welcome, and the song is a glowing portrait of a place she obviously loves.

Other highlights:

  • “Love At The Five And Dime”, a wonderful story of enduring love in everyday life, and featuring the ‘ding’ of the elevator bell in a Woolworths’ store. Nanci opens this one with her fond and funny memories associated with Woolworth stores. She perfectly describes something I remember well: the smell of a Woolworth’s store is the smell of “chewing gum and popcorn rubbed around on the bottom of a leather-soled shoe.”
  • “Trouble In The Fields”, a story inspired by Griffith’s great-uncles and aunts who farmed the land, enjoying good times and enduring bad. The lyrics use the hardships and joys of farming as an analogy to the hardships and joys of relationships. Acknowledging the hard work necessary to make anything grow, the chorus closes
     Come harvest time we'll work it out There's still a lotta love, here in these troubled fields

My next Nanci Griffith album is going to be her 1993 release “Nanci Griffith's 'Other Voices, Other Rooms'Other Voices, Other Rooms“, a tribute to the people whose music influenced her. Not only does she cover her benefactor’s tunes, the list of guest artists read like a “Who’s Who” of modern folk and country: Nanci Griffith's 'Flyer'Chet Atkins, Bob Dylan, Bela Fleck, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, John Hartford, Leo Kottke, Alison Krause, Odetta, John Prine, Amy Ray, and Emily Saliers.

Sometime soon I’ll tell you all about Nanci’s fantastic 1994 album “Flyer“, another of my favorites.

Finding Iz

There was a lot to like about the movie “Finding Forrester.” First, I could watch Sean Connery nap on the couch and find it fascinating. Second, it’s amazing to see newcomer Rob Brown hold his own while he shares the screen with Connery, and occasionally dominates it. The story, although slightly predictable, is done so well that I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve seen it.As a music freak, though, the thing that made the most lasting impression on me happened as the ending credits started to whizz past, as credits are wont to do these days. Out of nowhere, there was this amazing, high, clear voice, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” accompanied by a ukelele! I caught the name ‘Israel something-impossibly-long-and-Hawaiian’ and scurried for the internet, where I discovered Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Hawaii’s Bruddah Iz.

There was a lot to like about the movie “Finding ForresterFinding Forrester.” First, I could watch Sean Connery nap on the couch and find it fascinating. Second, it’s amazing to see newcomer Rob Brown hold his own while he shares the screen with Connery, and occasionally dominates it. The story, although slightly predictable, is done so well that I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve seen it.

As a music freak, though, the thing that made the most lasting impression on me happened as the ending credits started to whizz past, as credits are wont to do these days. Out of nowhere, there was this amazing, high, clear voice, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” accompanied by a ukelele! I caught the name ‘Israel something-impossibly-long-and-Hawaiian’ and scurried for the internet, where I discovered Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Hawaii’s Bruddah Iz.

Born the same year as me, 1959, Israel came from a very musical background. Forming a musical group, Makaha Sons Of Ni’ihau, with his brother Skippy at a young age, Israel started recording under his own name in 1990. Although Skippy had died of a heart attack in 1982, the group continued to record and remained popular in Hawaii. Israel eventually recorded duets with recordings of Skippy, a la Natalie/Nat King Cole. Israel’s health was always a concern as well; his weight occasionally topped 750 pounds.

In 1995, Iz released “Israel Kamakawiwo'ole 'Facing Future'Facing Future” which contains the track “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World.” Neither song is a special favorite of mine; the former has sort of been done to death, the latter has always seemed just a bit trite. Not unlistenable tunes, just not favorites. But hearing Israel’s complete rearrangement, his crystal voice, and the obvious joy he took in his music, makes them both sparkle. He takes marvelous liberties with the lyrics to ‘Rainbow’ but it doesn’t seem to matter; the reason to listen is that voice.

The entire album is enjoyable. Mostly Hawaiian tunes (which makes appreciation of the lyrics a bit difficult for some of us) but besides the tune already mentioned, there’s a fun, humourous cover of “Take Me Home Country Road” with Hawaiian locations substituted for the originals, and a Hawaiian country chorus doing the backing vocals.

The opening track, “Hawai`i ’78 Introduction” is beautiful. It includes voice-overs of Israel talking about his father’s death of a heart attack. Since Israel’s death from the same cause in 1997 it is especially eerie to hear him refer to his father’s words about staying close to the people he loved; advice which Israel says on the album would have saved his father’s life had he followed it himself.

Despite the fact that we have a catalog of more than two dozen albums featuring Bruddah Iz, it’s sad to think he’ll no longer be singing the history of the homeland he obviously loved.

California Stars

I spent the evening on the back patio Sunday, looking at the stars (and a few planets.) Like rudy says, the grandeur of the universe sure puts our petty problems in perspective. It’s nice to live at the back side of town, near an estuary and the ocean, where the city lights don’t do as much damage to stargazing.Another batch of California stars are addressed by Wilco and Billy Bragg on “Mermaid Avenue”, an album of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie songs. Put to music by Bragg, Jeff Tweedy, and Jay Bennett in various combinations, the albums (volume II was released in 2000) are a combination of the folk songs we’d expect from Woody, and the folk/rock/punk we’d expect from Bragg and Wilco.

I spent the evening on the back patio Sunday, looking at the stars (and a few planets.) Like rudy says, the grandeur of the universe sure puts our petty problems in perspective. It’s nice to live at the back side of town, near an estuary and the ocean, where the city lights don’t do as much damage to stargazing.

Mermaid AvenueAnother batch of California stars are addressed by Wilco and Billy Bragg on “Mermaid Avenue“, an album of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie songs. Put to music by Bragg, Jeff Tweedy, and Jay Bennett in various combinations, the albums (volume II was released in 2000) are a combination of the folk songs we’d expect from Woody, and the folk/rock/punk we’d expect from Bragg and Wilco.

Mermaid Avenue“California Stars” has unusually sensitive lyrics compared to much of Guthrie’s catalog; beautifully poetic. The music, in this case by Bennett and Tweedy, is more traditional. Mostly acoustic, it also includes some slide work by bluesman Corey Harris which is reminiscent of Tweedy’s days as a nephew of Uncle Tupelo. Rolling Stone did a nice writeup of the first album when it was released, including some background information and comments from the band.

Let’s hope Nora Guthrie continues to find voices for her father’s unrecorded lyrics. Like a Beatles reunion or finding a lost Gilbert and Sullivan opera, resurrecting Woody’s words is a music lover’s dream come true.

Grapes of Route 66

I love Woody Guthrie. My father wanted to be Woody Guthrie. If he’d been a few years older, he would have been Woody Guthrie.Woody Guthrie was an honest man, trying to tell the truth in a dishonest world. There are places and times in the past where men like him were hunted and killed for what they did. It tells me something about the advance of civilization, about which I worry just a bit, that Woody Guthrie wasn’t put away by the government or lynched.

I love Woody Guthrie. My father wanted to be Woody Guthrie. If he’d been a few years older, he would have been Woody Guthrie.

Woody Guthrie was an honest man, trying to tell the truth in a dishonest world. There are places and times in the past where men like him were hunted and killed for what they did. It tells me something about the advance of civilization, about which I worry just a bit, that Woody Guthrie wasn’t put away by the government or lynched.

His songs are wry, dry, and witty. His songs were simple statements of fact about simple ugly facts no one else was talking about. I honestly don’t know how much impact his music had on the course of events, or what its value will be perceived as somewhere down the road, but every once in a while it makes me stop and think, and that’s enough.

As much as I enjoy listening to Woody himself (my father sounded so much like him, it’s like listening to the recordings of him that don’t exist) there’s one cover of a Woody Guthrie tune that transcends musical boundaries: Odetta, singing “Ramblin’ Round” on the 1972 “Tribute to Woody Guthrie” album. Backed by Arlo Guthrie and a group of remarkable musicians not yet known as The Band, Odetta swings this simple folk tune into a rollicking blues rock paean to the man himself. It’s one of those tracks that I just have to listen to more than once (on the tape I play in my car, I have Arlo singing “Oklahoma Hills”, a childhood favorite, and Odetta’s cover alternating, repeated three times so I don’t have to rewind it.)

Just discovered that Joel Rafael will be performing at this year’s Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. Ah, to be in Oklahoma in June.

Putting Flesh on the Bones of My Dreams

Once again, David Gray is inside my head. Not just because I can’t stop humming a tune, but because his lyrics always seem to express something I’m feeling. Right now, I’m feeling more confident than ever about fulfilling my dreams.”Flesh” deceives with its simple acoustic first bars. Of course, David’s voice is the second instrument heard, and as always, the most important. Soon, though, an uncharacteristic electric guitar riff echoes behind his vocals, and a solid, but muffled, drum emphasizes the rhythym. Now a soaring organ, joined by a second electric guitar, gentle, trying not to overshadow the lyrics. Before long, more acoustic guitars sprout up, competing with the growing insistence of the electrics. Finally, though, it’s an electric guitar, echoing, sliding, hollow and ringing, that wins out. Backed by a tight hard drum snap, the guitar and David’s vocals fade into another dream.

Once again, David Gray is inside my head. Not just because I can’t stop humming a tune, but because his lyrics always seem to express something I’m feeling. Right now, I’m feeling more confident than ever about fulfilling my dreams.

David Gray album 'Flesh'Flesh” deceives with its simple acoustic first bars. Of course, David’s voice is the second instrument heard, and as always, the most important. Soon, though, an uncharacteristic electric guitar riff echoes behind his vocals, and a solid, but muffled, drum emphasizes the rhythym. Now a soaring organ, joined by a second electric guitar, gentle, trying not to overshadow the lyrics. Before long, more acoustic guitars sprout up, competing with the growing insistence of the electrics. Finally, though, it’s an electric guitar, echoing, sliding, hollow and ringing, that wins out. Backed by a tight hard drum snap, the guitar and David’s vocals fade into another dream.

There have been times in my life when I felt I couldn’t afford the luxury of dreams. When you finally come back to reality, and realize you can’t afford not to dream, it feels like the words to “Flesh.” Read for yourself, and think about things you know you could be doing.

Central Reservation

I can’t really explain why I’m so captivated by Beth Orton’s “Central Reservation.” I don’t understand the lyrics, and one of the many remixes I thoroughly enjoy is a style of music I normally don’t even listen to.As the title track to her latest album, it was originally recorded as a slow, almost sleepy ballad. The first version I heard was remixed by Ben Watt of “Everything But The Girl” and has quite a bit more bounce and beat. Hearing the original after that took the right mood, but each, in its own place, is perfect.

I can’t really explain why I’m so captivated by Beth Orton’s “Central Reservation.” I don’t understand the lyrics, and one of the many remixes I thoroughly enjoy is a style of music I normally don’t even listen to.

As the title track to her latest album, it was originally recorded as a slow, almost sleepy ballad. The first version I heard was remixed by Ben Watt of “Everything But The Girl” and has quite a bit more bounce and beat. Hearing the original after that took the right mood, but each, in its own place, is perfect.

The one I just don’t understand liking is the “Spiritual Life Ibadan Mix” which starts with a single pounding drum which doesn’t let up for eight minutes. After the rest of the instruments jump in, what sounds like the ‘Ben Watt’ mix vocals join in the fray. In the middle of this hammering dance tune we’re treated to a blistering acoustic guitar solo which is starting to sound natural to me. Also available on the same import CD are the “Then Again” version and the “William Orbit” remix. If you’ve heard either one and can offer insight, let us know.

See the Sun Spreading Wings of Gold . . .

Gratifying to see Howard Shore’s magnificent “Lord of the Rings” score properly honored.

Gratifying to see Howard Shore’s magnificent “Lord of the Rings” score properly honored.


“Got no reason,

but that I must.

Maybe I feel

like I’ve been gathering dust . . .”

I wish I had discovered David Gray before “Babylon” but I’m glad I discovered him at all. “Gathering Dust” from his glorious 1993 debut album “Century Ends” has been running through my mind almost enlessly of late. (It shares said album with the emotional “Shine” and the philosophical “Birds Without Wings” which I believe was also David’s first single.)

Beginning with solo rhythym acoustic guitar, as many of Gray’s songs do, it gradually builds, adding keyboards, acoustic lead guitar, bass, and more. The electric piano subtly seconds David’s guitar from nearly the beginning. The second acoustic guitar counterpoints the rhythym beautifully, adding punctuation or emphasis where needed. Keyboards and rhythym guitar respond in kind, building to a full, rounded sound. By the time we get to the deliriously poetic

“See the sun spreading wings of gold

as the dawn unfurled,

Hear the song the moon sings

to the darkened world”

it has built to sizeable proportions, at which point, everyone drops out except the opening guitar and keyboards, fading to a soft, sad finish.

For more David Gray, try the official website, or their list of other links. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at ‘Drunken Gibberish’ even though they spell their own name wrong. And of course, buy all David’s albums.

Walkingbirds

I love hearing new music. I love hearing a new song and falling in love with it. And I especially love hearing about a new group and discovering that I’m going to love everything they ever do.Walkingbirds are that group today, thanks to a tip from Meryl. 64 kbps MP3s of eight of their songs are available free at their site; that totals about 34 minutes of music, which is almost as much as a Chris Isaak album.

Martin 12-string headstock

I love hearing new music. I love hearing a new song and falling in love with it. And I especially love hearing about a new group and discovering that I’m going to love everything they ever do.

Walkingbirds are that group today, thanks to a tip from Meryl. 64 kbps MP3s of eight of their songs are available free at their site; that totals about 34 minutes of music, which is almost as much as a Chris Isaak album.

Composed almost entirely of Scott Andrew LePera, the “group” oft includes some Laurie Hallal guitars and vocals, and occasionally sports an additional Derek Poindexter on bass. Somehow, it all manages to sound like acoustic Dishwalla or Better Than Ezra, tinged with Sonvolt. Some first impressions (okay, third impressions) about each of the songs:

  • “Cast the Net Wide” Sounding ever so Celtic, a gentle folky number turns partly rock via one of the few occurances of electric guitar. A tender request for love. I think I’ll take this one home with me . . .
  • “Wasted” Trying desperately to sound sad and dejected, it still sounds hopeful and happy to me. Spare and folky; nice percussive punctuation.
  • “One Sure Thing” Reminds me so much of Dishwalla’s acoustic version of “Counting Blue Cars” but with lyrics I can actually enjoy (and understand. Sorry.) Poppy and brisk. Probably excellent with a nice zinfandel or Scotch ale.
  • “Stay the Same” Briefly sounding more like very (very) early Kenny Loggins, a warm and pensive piece.
  • “Back Around” Definitely worthy of airtime, nice percussion and more ambitious vocals make this stand out, even in this distinguished company.
  • “Hello You” A sunny Sunday afternoon, languid, paced but not actually slow. Interesting electric guitar work. More nice harmonies.
  • “Brickyard Bend” Another one for the airwaves, this reminds me of the small town in Texas where I used to live. You could see the line of teenagers just waiting to get out of town. Again, what should feel dismal ends up feeling bright and sunny. Maybe that’s what I like about it. Nice strong rhythym, layers and layers of vocals, and snappy percussion.
  • “Gravel Road Requiem” This should be the last song on the album. Good driving song (as in, song to listen to while driving, not song that drives – that would be John Fogerty’s “Walking In A Hurricane.”) Makes me want to get around to the road trip I didn’t take last year. Well-done harmonies, pleasing interplay of acoustic and electric guitars, and some real live drumming. One of the more complex tunes, and one of my favorites.

While I’m already a fan and appreciate the free MP3s, I hope Scott gets around to producing a real full-length CD. The Walkingbirds website is a fun and informative read, and I suspect the album’s liner notes would soon be as tattered as those from my copy of Loreen McKennit’s “Book of Secrets.” (Note to music moguls: liner notes sell albums. Intelligent informative liner notes sell bands.)

Overture

‘Hothouse Flowers’ has long been one of my favorite bands. From the eponymous ‘Thing Of Beauty’ to their moving cover of ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ I am always captivated by their grasp of the emotional power of music.

Hothouse Flowers has long been one of my favorite bands. From the eponymous ‘Thing Of Beauty to their moving cover of ‘I Can See Clearly Now I am always captivated by their grasp of the emotional power of music. Continue reading “Overture”