Gary Hector premiered the video for his latest single this week.
Hector premiered the video for his new single, ‘This One’s For You‘ Wednesday. The single and video are the second from Hector’s album, National Trash, which was released July 30. Hector premiered the album’s lead single, ‘Today I Ride Alone‘ June 28.
Hector talked about his new single in a prepared statement.
“This second single, ‘Baby, This One’s For You,’ from the album National Trash, is a hauntingly beautiful slice of Americana, with shades of classic country and classic rock n roll,” he said. “This song finds itself in a “straight to the point “mood, armed with potent lyrics.”
As Hector noted, the song’s musical arrangement is pure, vintage honky tonk country. The twang of the guitar is there, along with Hector’s vocal delivery, which expertly compliments the instrumentation.
The video for ‘This One’s For You’ also pays tribute to the musicians and performers who laid the groundwork for today’s music industry. It does this by featuring pictures, of famous figures, such as Elvis, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash, as well as Jimmie Rodgers, Charley Pride and others. The pictures hang on a line inside a small shack in which Hector performs his new single. This is all presented in black and white to help translate the tribute to the groundbreakers of country and rock.
National Treasure is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Gary Hector’s latest news at:
Family entertainment group The Story Pirates will release its new album this spring.
The group is scheduled to release its next album The Strawberry Band April 2. In anticipation of the album’s release, the band debuted the video for the album’s lead single this week. The band debuted the video for the song ‘Fun Crazy Weird Hair Store‘ Friday through Geekdad and the “Absolutely Mindy” show on Sirius XM Kids Place Live.
The song is a light, kindie-pop style composition. Its easygoing guitar, piano, vocals, and simple time keeping makes it an infectious work. The song’s lyrical content is based on a short story crafted by a 9 year-old Story Pirates fan. It is one of a handful of stories crafted by children that make up the album, which itself is a tribute to concept albums.
The story behind is considered a “Beatles-esque” story that itself was crafted by a 5 year-old fan of The Story Pirates. According to information about the album, the band has dreams of stardom, but turns into strawberries every time it hits the stage. Throughout the album, the band, which created its own concept album, shows up as it tries to evade a strawberry-eating shark. The other stories that appear in this concept album about The Strawberry Band feature items, such as cinnamon buns, a wingless fairy, and a hedgehog.
The Strawberry Band is The Story Pirates’ fourth album.
In other news, The Story Pirates is scheduled to resume the fourth season of its podcast the same day as the release of its new album. It will feature 20 more episodes that will run through July,
Season Four opens with a Johnny Cash-style song that is based on a story titled ‘I’m Toast, Man!’ The song is based on a story written by a 6 year-old fan of The Story Pirates.
Season Four also features a new story, “The Adventures of Harold Jordan.” The story was adapted from a story crafted by one of The Story Pirates’ 9 year-old fans.
New music and stories are just a portion of what audiences have to look forward to from The Story Pirates when its fourth season resumes. Actor Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock, Phineas & Ferb) will join The Story Pirates for its mid-season premiere.
In even more news, The Story Pirates’ Los Angeles-based audiences can look forward to new episodes of its SPTV soon. The series runs on the region’s PBS affiliate, KLCS. The series encourages young viewers to use their imaginations to write original stories. It does this by taking viewers into stories written by other young viewers.
Story Pirates Creator Club members have full access to the show. Sample episodes of SPTV are streaming through YouTube.
More information on The Story Pirates’ new album, podcasts and SPTV episodes is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
Much has been said over the years about the fate of real country music. As with rock music, there are many who would like to say that real country music is dead. However, artists, such as Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton, Hank III, and Shooter Jennings have proven that it is very much alive and well. They are not the only artists who have proven this true. Josh Turner has done his own share to prove that real country music is alive and well throughout his career. His latest album Country State of Mind, which was released in June through MCA Nashville, is no exception to that rule. The 12-song covers compilation takes listeners through so much music history with its featured songs. They will be discussed shortly. The arrangements featured in the songs do their own part to make the record so appealing to country music purists. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make the compilation proof that real country music is still alive and well and that there are those who are working to make sure it stays alive. They make the album a wonderful tribute to the roots of country music.
Josh Turner’s new covers compilation Country State of Mind is a presentation that is certain to impress any country music purist. That is proven in part through its featured songs. The songs in question take listeners back to country music’s earliest days and even up to the 90s, which was really the end of the golden age of country music. The oldest of the songs featured in the recording is the Hank Williams hit song ‘Alone and Forsaken.’ The song was not officially recorded until the early 1950s, but its roots go all the way back to a radio performance in the late 1940s, and it is pure country. It is a prime example of what made and makes Hank Williams still one of the greatest country music artists of all time. Going through history some more, the record also goes back to the 1950s with a cover of Johnny Cash’s 1959 song ‘The Caretaker,’ which itself is more of a deep cut from Cash, into the 70s, with Kris Kristofferson joining Turner for his cover of Kristofferson’s 1973 song ‘Why Me’ and even into the 90s, with a cover of Jim Lauderdale’s ‘You Don’t Deem To Miss Me’ (1997). The song was made popular by Patty Loveless. There are even a pair of dips into the 80s with Turner’s take on Randy Travis’ hit song ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ (1987) — Travis joined Turner for the performance in this record – his take on the 1986 Hank Williams, Jr./Roger Alan Wade song ‘Country State of Mind.’ Putting it simply, the compilation is essentially a musical history lesson of sorts about pure country music. Regardless of familiarity with the featured songs, it is a lesson that every listener will enjoy. Those listeners who are less familiar with the history of country music will use this record as a strong introduction to the genre’s roots while those who are more seasoned will welcome the trip back in time just as much as those who are new to the genre. This is just one aspect of the record that makes it so appealing. The arrangements featured in the songs add their own value to the record.
The arrangements featured in Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation are important to note because they show Turner’s respect for the songs that he covered here. Case in point is his take on ‘The Caretaker.’ As Turner sings the song’s lyrics, he does something significant with his trademark baritone and makes it sound just like that of Johnny Cash. The shortness in the notes that he sings and the simple use of the vocals and guitar makes the song sound just like Cash’s original. The only difference between the two renditions (other than the fact that Turner replaces Cash’s name with his own in this version) is that Turner’s rendition does not have the subtle backing choral element that Cash used in his song. That’s not a detriment, either. It just gives Turner’s version its own identity that still pays full tribute to Cash’s original.
Turner’s cover of ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ is another example of the importance of the album’s arrangements. Turner’s take on the timeless tune stays true to its source material for the most part. At the same time, he adds a subtle extra with the use of the bluegrass influence throughout the song at various points. The fiddle and mandolin that are audible in Turner’s take are not so much there in Travis’ original. There is a little bit more of a twang to the guitars in Turner’s take, too. Listening through both versions, one could actually argue that Turner’s cover is one of those songs that actually improves on the original.
Turner’s cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s ‘Country State of Mind’ is a near mirror image to Williams’ original, right down to the twang in Turner’s voice as he sings. He and Chris Janson collectively do so much to make this rendition a full tribute to the legacy not only of the song, but of Hank Jr. right down to the famous yodel at the song’s end. It is a full-on display of pure country music at its finest that the aforementioned listeners will appreciate and just one more example of the importance of the musical arrangements featured throughout Country State of Mind. Together with the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of the record’s musical content doe even more to show why Turner’s fans and country music purists alike will enjoy the compilation. Together with the songs themselves, the two elements collectively create a strong foundation for the compilation. Resting atop that foundation is the record’s sequencing.
The sequencing of Country State of Mind is interesting in its own right. That is because it never stays too happy or sad for too long throughout the record’s 41-minute run time. It starts out on a relatively upbeat note in ‘I’m No Stranger to the Rain’ and continues in that fashion in the record’s second song, ‘I’ve Got It Made.’ From there, the record’s energy pulls back momentarily in Turner’s cover of ‘Why Me’ before picking back up again in the record’s title track. His cover of ‘I Can Tell By The Way You Dance’ keeps the record’s energy up a little bit longer before surrendering again in ‘Alone and Forsaken.’ From this point on, the subtle ups and downs in the album’s energies is stable right to its subdued finale, that noted cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘The Caretaker.’ Looking back through the record’s arrangements, their energies clearly show a certain amount of time and thought was put into the record’s sequencing. The result is that it never stays one way or another for too long. This ensures in its own way, that listeners will remain engaged and entertained through this aspect just as much as through the compilation’s content. All three elements combined make the record a compilation that while yes, it is a bunch of covers, is a record that proves without question that pure country is still alive and well. What’s more, that Turner made the choice to take on these classic pure country tunes shows that there are those who want to keep it alive once more.
Real, pure, country music is not dead. There is a generation of artists out there today that is doing its part to ensure this is known, despite so many critics wanting people to believe otherwise. Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation Country State of Mind is just the latest proof that pure country is alive. The record’s songs serve as a musical history lesson and musical tribute to the roots of pure country all in one. The arrangements featured within those songs add their own appeal to the compilation. That is because they stay largely true to their source material while adding a subtle extra to each song, giving each even more enjoyment. The sequencing of the songs and their arrangements puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation, ensuring once and for all, listeners’ engagement and entertainment. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this record as has been pointed out here. All things considered, they make the record a presentation that proves pure country music is alive and well and that there are those out there who are working to keep it alive. Country State of Mind is available now.
More information on Country State of Mind is available along with all of Josh Turner’s latest news at:
Independent reggae artist Papa Rosko’s self-titled debut album is an intriguing new addition to this year’s field of new reggae records. That is proven throughout the course of the 10-song record, thanks to its musical arrangements and lyrical content alike. It is a record that takes a course somewhat unlike so many other reggae offerings, as proven in part through the album’s opener, a cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. This work will be discussed shortly. ‘Chemistry Is Everything,’ which is one of the album’s originals, is another example of what makes Papa Rosko’s debut record stand out among its reggae counterparts. It will be discussed a little later. The rock-infused ‘1984’ is yet another example of what makes Papa Rosko a notable addition to his year’s field of new reggae albums. It will also be discussed later. When it is considered along with the rest of the album’s songs and those mentioned here, the whole proves to be a presentation that reggae fans will agree is worth hearing at least once.
Papa Rosko’s self-tiled debut record, released independently Oct. 16 by Papa Rosko is an interesting new addition to this year’s field of new reggae records. That is because it is a work that takes that proverbial road less traveled. Rather than just using the typical, familiar reggae sounds and topics, this album offers audiences a wider array of content musically and lyrically. The record’s opener, a cover of Johnny Cash’s timeless song ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ is just one of the ways in which the noted statements are supported. Right off the bat, audiences would not necessarily expect a reggae record to feature such a work, so that Papa Rosko took that course is admirable in its own right. The song’s arrangement infuses Cash’s country original with the familiar horns and guitar sounds of the reggae realm for a whole that gives Cash’s original a whole new identity. That identity in question is just as engaging and enjoyable as Cash’s original. Given, there is little improving on perfection. Small Town Titans is one of the rare acts that has ever clearly outdone the original song. Papa Rosko’s version however, just takes the song in a distinctly new direction that is still enjoyable in its own right. It is just one of the songs that shows the strength of Papa Rosko’s self-titled debut album. Papa Rosko’s original song ‘Chemistry is Everything’ stands on its own merits.
The musical arrangement that is featured in ‘Chemistry is Everything’ lends itself to comparisons to works from Sublime. As a matter of fact, a close listen to the keyboards, guitar, vocals, horns, and seeming shaker, can also lead to a comparison to works from the chief Parrothead himself, Jimmy Buffet. Once again, this is a path that most reggae acts have not taken and that most likely never will. So to have a comparison to two acts who are so similar yet different makes for such a unique composition. That unique composition will in turn make for quite the enjoyable and engaging listening experience in its own right.
The light, relaxed vibe that the musical arrangement exudes in ‘Chemistry is Everything’ becomes even more important when it is considered alongside the song’s lyrical theme. That theme in question is, clearly, a song about the importance of chemistry in the formation of a relationship. Papa Rosko sings of that importance, “Some things just go together/Like two birds of a feather…Too late, the seed’s been planted/By you I’ve been enchanted/It’s in our protoplasm/My atoms love your atoms/Let’s sing a song/That only we can hear…Our souls made love/Before our bodies ever did/This is true/Chemistry is everything.” He continues in the song’ second verse, “We sat and talked for hours/A kiss that overpowers/I’m not the kind to cling to…I sing to a tune/That soothes the soul/We go together, baby/Like rock and roll/Compatibility like I have never known/When I’m with you, girl/It just feels like home.” A few lines here are difficult to decipher, but the bigger picture is clear. The song’s lyrical theme focuses on that noted chemistry and its role in the strength of a relationship in its infancy. Considering everything noted here, it would have been easy for papa Rosko to compose a musical arrangement that was upbeat but more tense, considering the uncertainty that so many people feel at the earliest stage of a relationship. What he did here instead was present that early stage in a more relaxed fashion, maybe from someone who is more confident than others. That juxtaposition makes this song even more interesting, and even clearer an example of what makes the song an important addition to Papa Rosko. It is just one more of the album’s most notable works, too. Papa Rosko’s musical adaptation of author George Orwell’s timeless novel 1984 is yet another key addition to the album.
‘1984’ takes a completely different route than pretty much every reggae artist and act out there today in its musical and musical aspects. Yes, the reggae elements are there, but at the same time, he and his fellow musicians incorporate a nice, heavy, rock influence for a very distinct contrast in styles and sounds throughout. What’s interesting to note here is the minimalist use of that rock element alongside the reggae influence. Because of its placement at very specific points, it makes for a wonderful accent to the arrangement. In the same vein, the use of the saxophone solo adds its own nice touch to the whole. Between that and everything else in this song, its musical arrangement builds a strong foundation for its presentation. The lyrical theme that builds on that foundation makes the song stand out even more.
The lyrical theme of ‘1984,’ — as noted — centers on Orwell’s timeless novel by the same name. Papa Rosko notes at times, that he does not want cameras following his every move and that big brother is everywhere. In this day and age, that is not so much science fiction or even fiction anymore. News reports throughout the past decade or so have revealed that yes, there are cameras on earth and on satellites that watch our near every move nowadays. Many of those cameras even have facial recognition technology, which is very scary. Papa Rosko even notes at one point, “There’s no escaping 1984.” He could not be more right. We live in an age now when everything we say and do is being monitored by higher powers. Given, Papa Rosko is hardly the first artist to ever take on this matter, but that he would do so by outright invoking Orwell’s novel makes for plenty of interest. That he would do with through a protest song that is one part reggae and one part rock makes for even more interest for listeners. When this is considered with the equally accessible lyrical content in the other songs noted here and their companion musical arrangements, and the overall content featured in the album’s other songs, the album in whole prove to give listeners plenty of reason to hear this record at least once.
Papa Rosko’s self-titled debut album is an interesting new addition to this year’s field of new reggae records. It is not the traditional presentation that one might think of when one thinks of reggae albums. That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content alike, as the songs examined here show. They feature content that is far more accessible to mainstream audiences than more devoted reggae fans in terms of both aspects. Keeping all of that in mind, Papa Rosko proves itself a record that reggae devotees and more casual fans alike will enjoy. It is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Papa Rosko’s latest news at:
Courtesy: Deko Entertainment (ADA/Warner Music Group)
Fledgling blues rock band Shadow & The Thrill is giving audiences their first preview of the band’s debut album.
The band debuted ‘Just Enough‘ Friday. The song is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming album Sugarbowl. The album is scheduled for release Aug. 14 through Deko Entertainment (ADA/Warner Music Group).
The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Just Enough’ is, as noted, a blues-based rock tune with vocals, guitar and bass provided by Tony Cardenas-Montana and drums by Brentt Arcement. Famed producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash) oversaw the mixing for the song and the album.
Sugarbowl is just the latest indie record on which Massy has worked. She also has had a hand in the creation of Amon Tobin’s new album The World As We Know It and independent hard rock band Hydraform’s brand new self-titled EP.
Cardenas-Montana’s vocals are instantly comparable to those of Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler. If one were listening to the song without knowing it wasn’t Aerosmith, it would be easy to make that mistake.
Pre-orders are open for Sugarbowl. Those who pre-order the album will receive a bonus track that is not featured with the album through its physical and digital presentations, but the vinyl release will feature that bonus song. Autograph bundles are available.while supplies last here.
Pre-order bundle details are noted below.
– One (1) Shadow & The Thrill – Sugar Bowl Vinyl (or CD)
– One (1) Shadow & The Thrill Tee
– One (1) Shadow & The Thrill Pick
– One (1) Digital Download of “Misery (Extended Version)”
Sugarbowl‘s track listing is noted below.
3. The Grind
5. Ready To Roll
6. Just Enough
10. Sugarbowl (acoustic) LP ONLY
More information on Shadow & The Thrill’s forthcoming album is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:
Eagle Rock Entertainment is resurrecting Waylon Jennings…sort of.
The company is scheduled to release Waylon Jennings: The Outlaw Performance May 15 on DVD. Originally captured in 1978 at a sold out show at the Opry House in Nashville, TN, this concert features Jennings performing songs that made him famous, such as ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy,’ ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys’ and ‘Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way’.
The concert’s set list is noted below.
Are You Ready For The Country?
Lonesome, On’ry and Mean
A Long Time Ago
Jack A Diamonds
Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down
You Asked Me To
I’ve Always Been Crazy
Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand
Good Hearted Woman
Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
Honky Tonk Heroes
Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way
Audiences will get to take in the show both with and without interview segments with Jennings. As an added bonus, the DVD also features interviews with other country superstars, such as George Jones, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings’ own drummer Richie Albright in an extra interview segment titled “Friends Remember The Outlaw.” The interviews were recorded in 1990.
Pre-orders are open now for Waylon Jennings: The Outlaw Performance. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:
Up-and-coming rock band Seven Strait is giving new life to Johnny Cash’s timeless hit ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ with its own take on the song.
The band debuted its cover of Cash’s song Dec. 6. It is featured in the band’s forthcoming album Rise From The Ashes, which is scheduled for release in early 2020 through TLG/Ingrooves Music Group. The album’s release date will be announced soon.
Seven Strait front man Dustin Penny talked about the band’s take on the song in a recent interview.
“We really feel that we’ve done Johnny Cash justice,” he said. “This is just one of those songs people love, and we have been getting some really great advance feedback from all over the world.”
More information on Seven Strait is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:
The blues is one of the most pure American forms of music that exists today, if not the single purest genre. Originally rooted in the Deep South during the age of slavery, the blues has evolved into its own unique art form, even incorporating elements of country music to form one of its subgenres – country blues. World Music Network has culled more than two dozen classic country blues songs for its latest compilation record The Rough Guide To Country Blues. Due out June 28, the 25-song collection is a strong new offering from WMN and an equally strong introduction to this blues subgenre for those who are not so familiar with the styling. The songs that make up the body of the record are themselves the main reason for that success. They will be discussed shortly. The collection’s track listing adds more interest to the compilation’s presentation and will be discussed a little later. Its liner notes put the final touch to its presentation, rounding out its most important elements. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Rough Guide To Country Blues. All things considered, they make The Rough Guide To Country Blues a positive addition to any blues fan’s library just as much as to any music educator’s library.
World Music Network’s new blues compilation The Rough Guide To Country Blues is a positive addition to the library of any blues fan’s music library. It is just as welcome in the library of any music educator. That is due in part to the compilation’s overall makeup. The collection is composed of 25 songs recorded by some of the most rell-known and respected figures in the history of the blues (E.g. Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, etc.). Each of the songs shows in its own unique way, the connection between the world of the blues and country music. Case in point is the twang of the guitar in Big Bill Boozy’s ‘How You Want It Done?’ That twang and the upbeat rockabilly style arrangement and its dual chord foundation is so similar to works from Elvis, Johnny Cash and so many other country music stars. Tommy Johnson’s yodeling in ‘Cool Drink of Water Blues’ and his general arrangement is similar in its own right to the songs that so many country music songs exhibited around the same time as him. It is very reminiscent of the type of songs that one might expect in old cowboy western flicks and TV shows even. Again, here audiences hear for themselves the similarity between the blues and country music. Much the same can be said of Clarence Greene’s ‘Johnson City Blues.’ That twang is there, but there is still a certain blues element added to the mix to round out the song. It’s just one more way in which the songs featured in this recording serve to show their importance. They show how two genres that one might not think have any connection are in fact more closely related than many might in fact think. That in itself creates a starting point for discussions on that connection between the genres. The discussions will deepen even more when looking at the artists themselves and the time periods in which their songs were released.
The artists, songs and time periods of the songs’ releases are all listed on the packaging for The Rough Guide To Country Music. What is interesting to note is that all of the songs featured in this compilation were crafted between the late 1920s and mid 1930s. The earliest of the recordings were crafted in 1927, just before the stock market crash. This is important in that it can lead to discussions on stylistic differences in the various songs pre- and post-crash. That is not to say that the market crash caused any changes in style, but one never knows. Regardless, it makes for its own in-depth discussion. Another discussion that can be generated through the information provided in the recording’s packaging is the differences and similarities between the featured musicians’ styles. Those discussions, coupled with the history lesson that is just as easily generated, show without question the importance of the information featured in the recording’s packaging. With this in mind, the information provided in the recording’s packaging and the songs themselves go a long way toward making this compilation even more appealing for listeners. The noted items are not the last of the recording’s notable elements either. The information presented in the compilation’s liner notes puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
The liner notes add their own appeal to this recording in that they present so much additional background to the songs that can be added into the discussions generated through the recording’s songs and primary information. Listeners learn in reading the recording’s liner notes, about the roots of the blues, the elements that made up country blues (gospel, Dixieland, Appalachian, etc.) the backgrounds of some of the featured musicians and even the reality that country blues was a musical form at the time that crossed racial barriers. Between these notes and others shared in the collection’s liner notes, the information provided in the booklet joins with the information presented about the songs, their performers and years, and the songs themselves to make the record in whole a work that will appeal to blues fans across the board.
World Music Network’s forthcoming blues compilation The Rough Guide To Country Blues is another welcome addition to its ongoing The Rough Guide To…” series of compilations. That is because it takes listeners back in time through its featured songs. The information provided about the time period in which the songs were released adds to the recording’s appeal in that said information is certain to start discussions among academics and the uninitiated alike. The information provided about the featured recordings and artists in the recording’s liner notes is just as certain to create its own share of discussion among listeners, increasing the recording’s appeal even more. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of The Rough Guide To Country Blues. All things considered, they make the compilation a work that blues fans of all ages will enjoy. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online now at:
Ry Cooder is scheduled to release his brand new solo album The Prodigal Son this Friday. The 11-song record is a nice *ahem* return for the veteran musician. It is a 50-minute collection of songs that will easily appeal not only to Cooder’s fans and those of Buena Vista Social Club, but to blues aficionados, folk music fans and music lovers in general. In other words, no doubt it will appeal to music lovers across the board. That is thanks to musical arrangements and lyrical content throughout that is more than certain to keep listeners of all ages engaged and entertained. That is clear right from the album’s outset in the album’s opener ‘Straight Street.’ It will be discussed shortly. The album’s title track, which is essentially its midway point, also serves to support the noted statements of its appeal. It will be discussed later. Cooder and company’s cover of Blind Roosevelt Graves’ gospel standard ‘I’ll Be Rested When The Roll Is Called’ is one more example of what makes this record such widely appealing offering. When it is considered along with the album’s other works, the end result is a record that is powerful both musically and lyrically and deserves without doubt to be added to any critic’s list of the year’s top new blues albums if not even the year’s top new albums overall.
Ry Cooder’s new full-length studio recording The Prodigal Son is a powerful new offering that will easily appeal to listeners of all ages and tastes. That is thanks to the pair of its musical and lyrical content alike as is evidenced right from the album’s outset in ‘Straight Street.’ The gospel standard – originally composed and recorded by Blind Roosevelt Graves – gains a powerful new life in its presentation here thanks to its arrangement. The arrangement’s foundation is formed through a gentle combination of mandolin, fiddle and percussion that is more folksy and country-esque than the simple piano and vocal arrangement used by The Pilgrim Travelers in their original 1955 take on the song. At the same time though, Cooder and company’s take on the arrangement is still entertaining with its sort of 1960s r&b sort of vibe. When that updated, gentle flowing take on the song is coupled with the song’s lyrical content, which centers on a person making some important positive changes in life, it makes the song in whole even more emotional than The Pilgrim Travelers’ original. It honestly comes across as a song that could be included in some seasonal drama’s soundtrack as Cooder sings, “Well I used to live on Broadway/Right next to a liar’s house/Well what a fool I was/My number was self righteousness/Oh don’t you know/Had very little guide amount/(I better move) so I moved/And I’m living on straight street now.” Straight Street here could be interpreted as a physical street, though odds are it is in reality a metaphor for living the straight and narrow. Keeping that in mind, that positive message of making positive changes in life, coupled with the updated, deeply emotional take on the song’s arrangement makes the song a clear example of what makes The Prodigal Son a welcome return for Cooder (after six years with no new music) and a work that boasts wide appeal. It is just one of the songs that shows what makes the album so surprisingly enjoyable. The album’s title track is another example of what makes The Prodigal Son a solid new effort from Cooder.
The Prodigal Son’s title track stands out musically because while it is another very bluesy work, it doesn’t attempt to rehash the sound created in the four songs that come ahead of itself. The percussion line and guitar that collectively make up the song’s first 30 seconds are nice touches as they do a lot to set the stage for the song. The song that follows is just as certain to keep listeners engaged with its easy comparison to songs from The Blind Boys of Alabama (and to a lesser extent, Johnny Cash). It’s a nice change of pace that in itself is more than enough reason to hear this song. When it is coupled with the song’s lyrical content, the two items clearly show why the song in whole is another key addition to Prodigal Son. The song’s lyrical content literally tells the biblical story of the Prodigal son, just with a little bit of an added kick. In other words, it’s not preachy, but still tells the story in a way that is certain to appeal to any listener. On the same level, it works directly in concert with the rest of the album’s theme of personal and spiritual revival of sorts. It’s another reminder that one can turn one’s life around and get things on track that will also entertain listeners at the same time. Keeping this thought in mind, it’s clear why this original addition to Prodigal Son is so critical to the album overall. Even with this in mind, it still is not the last of the album’s most standout entries. Cooder’s cover of Blind Roosevelt Graves’ standard ‘I’ll Be Rested When The Roll is Called’ is another key addition to the record.
Originally composed with his brother Uaroy, this composition is a simple song about that life eternal that comes after death. While Cooder and company’s arrangement builds on the original composition’s instrumentation, it also stays very close to its source material. Instead of a guitar and tambourine, which were used in Graves’ original work, Cooder and his fellow musicians here opted for a banjo, tambourine and drums. Of course there are also additional harmonies added thanks to the fact that there are more performers here; harmonies that add so much to the song. Either way, its arrangement still pays a wonderful tribute to its source material that even today’s more hardcore purist will certainly appreciate. The song’s lyrical content will impress listeners just as much because it, too sticks to its source. Cooder sings here to Graves’ original lines, “I’ll be rested when the roll is called/I’ll be rested in the kingdom of heaven/No more shoutin’ when the roll is called/I’ll be rested in the kingdom of heaven/No more sorrows when the roll is called/Meet my mother when the roll is called/Meet my elders when the roll is called.” There are plenty of refrains within each line, of course. So these lines are the core of the song. Keeping this in mind, there is so much positive here. When the positive vibes from these lines (and musical content) joins with the positive vibes in the previously discussed songs — and even those songs not noted here – the overall positive presentation in this album makes it a record that, in whole, to which any listener will want to return time and again.
When it hits store shelves and online outlets this Friday, Ry Cooder’s new album the Prodigal Son will be the veteran musician/producer’s first new album in six years. Considering that much time has passed between this forthcoming record and his last – 2012’s Election Special – this record proves it was worth the wait. That is thanks to a mix of original compositions and covers that will most certainly appeal to blues aficionados and gospel purists alike. The lyrical theme of revival and personal betterment that runs throughout the record makes it even more engaging. The pairing of those elements together throughout the album makes it a presentation in whole that is easily one of the year’s top new blues albums without a doubt, and an album to which listeners will want to return time and again. It will be available this Friday, May 11 in stores and online via Fantasy Records (the same label responsible for Prophets of Rage’s debut album). More information on The Prodigal Son is available online now along with all of Ry Cooder’s latest news and more at:
Late this past October, 101 Ranch Records re-issued country artist Mark Collie’s 2012 live recording Alive at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary on CD. The recording, originally released in 2012 is an important piece of the singer’s catalogue. That is because it is a recording that almost didn’t happen as is pointed out in the recording’s companion booklet. The booklet, by the way, is the recording’s key element. That is rare for a live recording and will be discussed shortly. The show’s set list, by connection, is just as important to discuss as the recording’s companion booklet. The band’s performance of the show’s set list rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to the recording’s presentation. All things considered, Alive at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary is a piece that Mark Collie’s fans will appreciate just as much as country music fans.
Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recent re-issue of Mark Collie’s Alive at Brushy Mount State Penitentiary is a work that Mark Collie’s fans and country music fans alike will appreciate. That statement is supported primarily through the recording’s companion booklet. It is pretty rare for a live recording’s companion booklet to take precedence over its set list or even the band’s performance of said set list. But this recording proves that a recording’s booklet can be its most important element. The booklet is so important because of the history lesson that it presents. It reveals the set list, save for just one song—‘Rose Covered Garden’—was new material at the time of the concert’s recording. Speaking of the concert’s original recording, audiences will learn through the booklet that the concert was originally recorded on October 17, 2001 and it almost didn’t see the light of day. That was due to legal reasons. But luckily it did finally see release in 2012 through an independent source. That’s just some of the important material presented in the recording’s companion booklet. Audiences will also be interested to learn that it was Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison performance that influenced Collie to eventually hold his performance at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. There is also a relatively in-depth history of the prison itself, including the revelation that it once held James Earl Ray, the man responsible for the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., and in The Silence of the Lambs, it was the prison that held the story’s villainous antagonist, Hannibal Lecter. This and so much more presented throughout the booklet proves why it is so important to the overall presentation of Alive at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Whether one is a seasoned Mark Collie fan or new to the veteran musician’s work, it is highly recommended that audiences in general read through the recording’s companion booklet before even taking in the concert itself.
Alive at Bushy Mountain State Penitentiary’s companion booklet is clearly an important piece of the recording’s overall presentation. Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Collie’s body of work, it is recommended that every listener read through the recording’s companion booklet before taking in the concert. It is that important to the recording’s overall presentation. While the recording’s booklet is highly important to the whole of Live at Bushy Mountain State Penitentiary, it is not the recording’s only important element. The set list is important in its own right to the recording’s presentation. It has already been noted that the material presented in this concert was largely original save for just two of its songs. Those songs are ‘Rose Covered Garden’ and the group’s cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ That is extremely important considering that the show’s “new” songs were not included in any of Collie’s prior recordings or recordings put out since. ‘Rose Covered Garden’ was included in one of Collie’s previous albums while ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ is one of Johnny Cash’s songs, and audiences won’t find it on any of Collie’s previous albums, just as with the “new” songs. That makes this set list extremely special. That’s just part of what makes the set list so important to note. Audiences will also be surprised to learn through the concert’s interludes that at least one of the songs included in the set was written by one of the inmates housed at the prison at the time of the concert. It is impressive to learn that Collie would show such interest in his audience as to put one of their songs on display. As simple of an action as it was, it was an action that had to have meant a lot to that inmate and the others. It’s the type of action that can truly establish a connection between performer and audience. No doubt it did just that and more. Taking into consideration the largely original set list and that Collie and company would even use one of the inmates’ songs for the set, it becomes fully clear why the recording’s set list is just as important to note as its booklet. It is just one more item that makes this recording shine, too. The band’s performance of the set list rounds out the recording’s most important elements.
Both the companion booklet included in Alive at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary and the recording’s set list are key to the recording’s presentation in their own right. The booklet is key as it presents an in-depth introduction to the concert and the prison. The set list is important to the recording because save for just one of its songs, none of its songs are presented in any of Collie’s previous studio recordings. They haven’t been included in any recording since. It even includes at least one song crafted by one of the inmates housed at the prison at the time of the concert. Both of the elements noted within the show’s set list makes it just as important as the recording’s booklet to the concert’s overall presentation in its new re-issue. While both elements are clearly important in their own right to the recording, they are not its only important elements. The band’s performance of the set list is important in its own right. The concert is currently available only on CD, but the band’s performance is so easy to visualize because it feels so genuine. Between the group’s performance of the song’s and Collie’s rapport with the inmates, the whole performance feels so genuine. At one point, he even jokes with the inmates about something he’s drinking not tasting like a certain kind of beverage. What kind will be left for audiences to discover for themselves. It is a wonderfully entertaining moment, though. The group’s performance of ‘On The Day I Die’ is another example of what makes the groups performance so powerful. This song comes across in such a heartfelt manner that it will bring tears to any listener’s eyes. It is that moving. It’s one of those performances that absolutely must be experienced for one’s self in order to fully understand and appreciate the emotion in the performance. Of course one can’t ignore the group’s take on Johnny Cash’s famed ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ One can’t help but wonder what Mr. Cash might have thought if he were to have had the opportunity to hear the group’s take on the performance. It likely would have made him proud. It is that solid, even being played at a different prison. Between these moments and so many others, throughout the concert, it is clear that the group’s performance (both in terms of the songs and in terms of its interaction with the inmates) completely entertained the inmates and the guards. It will entertain listeners just as much, too. When it is set alongside the show’s set list and its companion booklet (and even the liner notes printed inside the case), the whole of this recording proves to be an outstanding recording. If it had been a new release, it would have made this critic’s list of the year’s top new live recordings. Even being a re-issue, it is still a recording that country fans across the board will appreciate regardless of their familiarity with Collie’s body of work.
Mark Collie’s recently re-issued live recording Alive at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary is not a new offering from the veteran country musician. That aside, it is still a work that country music fans across the board will appreciate. This is regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Collie’s body of work. That is thanks in large part to the liner notes and booklet included with the recording. The information provided through the liner notes and booklet create a wonderful, in-depth introduction to the concert and its historical significance. The set list itself is important to the recording’s presentation, too. That is because it is the only place—save for just two of the show’s songs—that audiences will find the “new” featured songs. ‘Rose Covered Garden’ is available on one of Collie’s previous albums and ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ has been included in a number of Johnny Cash recordings ever since its original release. But the set’s other songs cannot be found on any of Collie’s other recordings. This shows, again, why the show’s set list is so important. It is still not the last of the recording’s most important elements, either. The group’s performance here is just as important to note as the other noted elements. The concert is currently only available on CD. But even on CD, the group’s connection with the inmates is so clear. That is made clear through the passion put into each song’s performance. The connection that Collie makes during the concert’s interludes is just as important to note in the group’s performance. Audiences will be able to tell just as easily as the inmates Collie’s genuine interaction. It gives the show even more of a special touch. When this is joined with the rest of the group’s performance, the show’s set list and the concert’s provided historical background, the whole of this concert makes it a concert that Collie’s fans will appreciate just as much as any country music fan in general. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Alive at Brushy Mount State Penitentiary online now along with all of Mark Collie’s latest news and more at: