Posts Tagged ‘Live’

Dwight Yoakam: Live from Austin, TX

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Dwight Yoakam at the peak of his commercial success

This October 1988 date found Yoakam headlining a bill with his hero and mentor, Buck Owens. Yoakam had rescued Owens from self-imposed retirement earlier in the year, and together they topped the chart with a remake of Owens’ “Streets of Bakersfield.” The day before the show, Yoakam’s third album, Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room, crested at #1 on the Billboard country chart, and it would go on to net Grammy, ACM and CMA awards. Owens opened the show with a tight 30 minute set (available on a companion volume), with Yoakam joining him for “Under Your Spell Again.” Owens returned the favor during Yoakam’s set to sing their recent chart topper.

Yoakam’s set combined selections from his first three albums, mixing original material with covers of songs by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman (“Little Sister”), Homer Joy (“Streets of Bakersfield”), Johnny Cash (“Home of the Blues”), Johnny Horton (“Honky Tonk Man”), Lefty Frizzell (“Always Late With Your Kisses”) and Stonewall Jackson (“Smoke Along the Track”). His original material included nearly all of his hits to that point, as well as several album tracks. The band is superb, with Pete Anderson’s guitar and Scott Joss’ fiddle really standing out. Yoakam turns on the sex appeal as he introduces the sultry “What I Don’t Know,” the band turns up the heat for “Please, Please Baby” and “Little Sister,” and the audience joins in enthusiastically to close “Honky Tonk Man.”

As on the duet sung together in Owens’ set, the happiness shared by Yoakam and Owens in teaming up for “Streets of Bakersfield” is palpable – Owens reveling in the new artistic partnership that rekindled his interest in music, and Yoakam in working with his idol and mentor. Each has such a distinct voice, that the delight in hearing them sing together continues to rise as they swap verses and share the chorus. Flaco Jimenez joins the band onstage and stays to accentuate the sorrow of “Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room,” with Joss’ fiddle and Anderson’s low strings adding mournful notes. Yoakam tells several stories on the DVD that are elided on the CD, including an account of his first meeting with Johnny Cash.

The partnership between Yoakam and Anderson was incredibly fruitful, both artistically and commercially, but it wasn’t always easy to see past Yoakam’s charisma to Anderson’s immense talent as a guitarist. But here, even with Yoakam center stage, you can’t help but be drawn to Anderson’s licks as he solos on “Home of the Blues,” hot picks the closing “This Drinkin’ Will Kill Me,” and plays Yoakam on and off the stage with a twangy instrumental bumper. New West’s reissue combines the previously released CD and DVD, and it’s four-panel booklet provides credits, but no liner notes. It’s a terrific package that plays just as well on the stereo as it does on the screen. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Dwight Yoakam’s Home Page

Buck Owens: Live from Austin, TX

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

The king of the Bakersfield Sound on the comeback trail in 1988

There is no shortage of live Buck Owens recordings, but nearly all of them date to his record breaking run in the 1960s. Owens was not only a terrific songwriter, guitarist, singer, bandleader and businessman, but a gifted stage performer whose personal magnetism drew fans to his tours and to his dying day, to his beloved Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. By the time of this 1988 performance on Austin City Limits, it had been more than a decade since Owens had recused himself from his music career. The 1974 death of Don Rich had drained his enthusiasm, and with his energy focused on the radio stations he’d begun buying in the 1960s, it took an insistent Dwight Yoakam to pry Owens out of his self-imposed exile.

This October 1988 date found Owens and Yoakam on the same bill, each playing a full set and guesting on the other’s. Yoakam’s Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room had just crested at #1 on the album chart, the lead single, a duet with Owens covering “Streets of Bakersfield,” had topped the singles chart in June, and the title single from Owens’ own return to the studio, Hot Dog, would be released the following week. So there was a lot to celebrate on this Sunday night in Texas, as Owens showed that the layoff hadn’t impacted his musicality or showmanship, and that the latest edition of the Buckaroos, including keyboard player Jim Shaw, bassist Doyle Curtsinger, guitarist and steel player Terry Christofferson and drummer James McCarty, was sharp and powerful.

With sixty Top 40 hits (and more than twenty chart toppers!), Owens could barely graze the highlights of his catalog in this thirty minute set But in only 11 songs he manages to touch on classic hits, album cuts, covers of his hero Chuck Berry, and material from his upcoming album. And he does it without resorting to the medleys that had helped him squeeze more fan favorites into his live sets of the 1960s. The jangle of Owens’ silver sparkle Telecaster (which may very well have been Don Rich’s ‘66) kicks off “Act Naturally” and the band falls in behind him. Curtsinger provides the harmony foil once supplied by Don Rich, and Christofferson echoes Tom Brumley’s steel solo on “Together Again.”

Owens is in terrific voice, and his enthusiasm belies the number of times he’d performed “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” “Crying Time,” “Tiger By the Tail” and “A-11,” each remaining fresh and potent decades after they’d been introduced. Even more enticing is a duet with Yoakam on “Under Your Spell Again.” The pair don’t lock their vocals together as seamlessly as had Owens & Rich, but the joy in their voices – Owens rediscovering the joy of a singing partner, and Yoakam singing with his hero – is palpable. The single “Hot Dog,” a cover of Owens’ 1956 turn as Corky Jones, gives the band a chance to rock, as does the closing cover of “Johnny B. Goode.”

This set combines the previously released CD and DVD into one package, with the same song list shared by both formats. The four-page booklet includes credits, but no liner notes, and no remembrances from anyone involved as to how this show came together or what it meant to the participants. For the second half of the bill, including “Streets of Bakersfield,” check out the companion volume on Dwight Yoakam. Owens took this band on the road, producing the belatedly released double-disc Buck Owens Live In San Francisco 1989, but it’s hard to top a Sunday night in Texas with Buck & Dwight! [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace

The Mavericks: All Night Live, Volume 1

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

mavericks_allnightlivevol1Live set leans on post-reunion material

The genre-bending Mavericks launch their own label with the release of a live album that complements the earlier It’s Now! It’s Live! and Live in Austin Texas. The new set shows how the band’s stage act has continued to grow in power, and by cherry-picking performances from their 2015 Mono Mundo tour, the set makes every song a highlight performance. Since reuniting four years ago, there have been lineup changes (including the dismissal of founding member Robert Reynolds) and new studio recordings, but it’s the stage show that has remained the group’s focal point. This generous 78-minute disc shows the core four-piece band, augmented by players on bass, sax, trumpet and accordion, to be as flexible as the Mavericks’ catalog. And rather than a nostalgic rehash of earlier glories, the band keeps their set fresh with material from 2013’s In Time and 2015’s Mono.

In fact, the sixteen tracks collected here focus almost entirely on music created since the 2012 reunion. More than half the tracks are taken from Mono and In Time, so if you’re looking for live versions of the band’s earlier hits (e.g., “What a Crying Shame,” “All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down”), you’ll need to check the previous live albums. On the one hand, you can admire their creative push, on the other, this isn’t the concert experience that fans have come to love. The new material is very good, and while it definitely augments their live set, it can’t replace history. The band plays with a lot of energy and spirit, but their verve is undercut by a recording that is distant and lacking in definition. It makes for a compelling invitation to get out and hear the band in person, but doesn’t fully reproduce the experience. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

The Mavericks’ Home Page

10,000 Maniacs: Playing Favorites

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

10000Maniacs_PlayingFavoritesThe latest lineup performs the band’s history

Lifelong fans of 10,000 Maniacs will be familiar with the complicated personnel changes weathered by the band since its 1981 formation. But those whose fandom only intersected the band during their late-80s commercial peak may be surprised. The band’s iconic original vocalist, Natalie Merchant, left for a solo career in 1993, and the following year Mary Ramsey was promoted from touring musician to lead vocalist. Ramsey sang lead for two albums until the death of guitarist Rob Buck put the group on hiatus, and upon their return, she was replaced by Oskar Saville. But Ramsey returned as a touring musician, and with Saville’s departure, she once again stepped into the lead singer’s spotlight. Whew.

This 2015 show, recorded in the band’s hometown of Jamestown, NY, features Ramsey leading the group through material that focusses primarily on the Natalie Merchant years, spanning 1981’s independently released Secrets of the I Ching through 1993’s MTV Unplugged, but also extends to three tracks from 1997’s Ramsey-led Love Among the Ruins. It’s hard not to miss a singer of Merchant’s indelible qualities, and while Ramsey offers nostalgic hints of the original vocals, she has her own style, and adds dimension to the band’s instrumentals with her viola. This set provides a nice addition to the earlier unplugged album and the Saville-led Live at 25, and shows the band still thriving as a live act. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

10,000 Maniacs Home Page

Greg Trooper: Live at the Rock Room

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

GregTrooper_LiveAtTheRockRoomA folk singer bares his soul

It takes Greg Trooper less than ten seconds to stop you in your tracks. Accompanied by organ, upright bass and his own guitar, Trooper has only to sing his first note to grab your attention. His voice is so open, magnetic and soulfully heartfelt, that you can’t help but listen closely. It’s one thing to craft material that draws the fandom of other gifted songwriters, but delivering it with the vocal artistry it merits is often beyond even the most talented writer. But Trooper is a superbly talented singer and storyteller, and his live performances, even in recorded form, are as intimate and honest as personal conversations. As excellent as was 2013’s Incident on Willow Street, Trooper exposes even more emotional surfaces when performing his songs in front of a live audience.

The disc’s opener “This I’d Do” endears Trooper to the audience with its extraordinary promises, and he proves himself a a man of his word with a set that’s thoughtful, stalwart and giving. He finds pathos in an alcoholic’s lament, hangs onto slim threads of hope and trudges along in heartbreak’s shadow. But as he essays in “Everything’s a Miracle,” perception is influenced by perspective, and perspective is often a choice. The search of “One Honest Man” looks forward as it creates distance from a troubled past, and “All the Way to Amsterdam” dreams of escape rather than dwelling on current circumstances. The latter rests perfectly on Chip Dolan’s keyboards and the emotional hitches in Trooper’s voice, articulating the song’s protagonist in both words and tone. The album closes with the hopeful “We’ve Still Got Time,” concluding a breathtakingly fine performance. [©2015 Hyperbolium]

Greg Trooper’s Home Page

The Ronettes: Be My Baby

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

The Rolling Stones: Charlie is My Darling

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

RollingStones_CharlieIsMyDarlingThe Rolling Stones at their 1965 peak

Filmed on a two day Rolling Stones tour of Ireland in September 1965, Peter Whitehead’s fifty-minute documentary garnered only limited showings before being shelved. In 2012, ABKCO returned to the source material to restore and expand the film to sixty-five minutes, releasing it as a single DVD and a five-disc box set that included the DVD, a Blu-ray, an LP and two CDs.  The second of those CDs featured thirteen live tracks from the tour’s concerts, recorded at the peak of the Stones first incarnation. Those tracks are now being released as digital downloads, augmenting the meager selection of commercially released early live performances, such as 1964’s T.A.M.I. Show and 1965’s UK EP Got Live if You Want It.

Included among the tracks are many icons of the Stones early live set, including covers of Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” Bo Diddley’s rave-up “I’m Alright,” Hank Snow’s “I’m Moving On,” Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster,” Allen Toussaint’s “Pain in My Heart,” Bobby Troup’s “Route 66,” Jerry Ragovoy’s “Time is on My Side,” and two Jagger/Richards’ originals, “Off the Hook” and “The Last Time.” The latter was the Stones’ first hit single of 1965, but by the time of their Irish tour, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (which is included on the box set’s first CD) had already topped the U.S. chart and was just about to peak in the UK.

The mono recordings are surprisingly listenable, given the state of mobile recording in 1965. These tracks don’t have the presence or instrumental separation of live albums made a decade later, but Jagger’s vocals are seated nicely into the mix, and the guitars, bass and drums are all legible. Better yet, the screaming crowd adds electricity without often overwhelming the music. The only thing that would be better is for the live tracks from the box set’s first CD to have been added here; at only 28 minutes (and as a digital collection with no physical length limitation), there’s plenty of room. Stones fans will want to see the documentary, but will also need the audio tracks for more regular rocking. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

The Rolling Stones’ Home Page
ABKCO’s home page

Various Artists: Woody Guthrie at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Various_WoodyAt100LiveAll-star 2012 tribute concert on CD and DVD

This celebration of Woody Guthrie’s one hundredth birthday is more like a family gathering than an all-star tribute. That’s because every one of these performers is an artistic descendent of Gurthrie’s music. It’s impossible to overstate Woody Guthrie’s impact on popular music, as his themes, songs, style and attitudes have transcended several generations of performers and fans; Guthrie remains a North Star by which folk-derived music is navigated. The song list includes many of Guthrie’s best-known and best-loved songs, along with archival lyrics posthumously set to music by Joel Rafael, Lucinda Williams, Jackson Browne and Tom Morello.

Staging this homage as a concert, rather than a collection of studio recordings pulled together over weeks and months, honors one of the basic tenets of Guthrie’s work: music as a shared, visceral experience. Guthrie’s songs were written for live performance, and every one of the night’s performers was fueled by both the material, the stages they’ve traversed throughout their careers, and each other. The breadth of Guthrie’s mastery is evident in material that ranges from endearing children’s songs to strident social commentary and searching introspection. The universality of his work is equally evident in the range of musical styles in which his songs are comfortably expressed, and the continuing currency of his topics.

The CD artfully edits the performances into a briskly-paced 77-minute program shorn of between-song banter; the DVD augments the program with a reading from Jeff Daniels and a short speech from Guthrie’s daughter, Nora. Both of the spoken pieces, and six of the musical selections are additions to the one-hour PBS broadcast cut. The DVD also adds several extras, including an audio track of Woody Guthrie discussing his early recordings and rare clips of him performing. This tribute concert capped a year-long celebration of Guthrie’s centennial that was filled with books, box sets and symposia, and provides a renewed opportunity to remember his empathetic genius. [©2013 Hyperbolium]

Music City Roots on the Radio

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Nashville’s weekly Music City Roots weekly concert and radio program can now be heard on an expanded list of broadcast affiliates. Hosted weekly at the Loveless Barn (behind the Loveless Cafe), the two-hour show can also be streamed live every Wednesday at 7pm Central Time. Each program includes four or five artists in 20-minute segments of music and interview, and concludes with a jam session. The legendary Jim Lauderdale hosts the show with additional Music City luminaries.

Various Artists: Alive at the Deep Blues Fest

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

A selection of live two- and three-man blues

The Deep Blues Festival is a Minnesota celebration of alternative blues music, originally run from 2007 to 2010. After spin-offs in Cleveland and Ortin, WA, festival organizer (and BBQ restaurateur) Chris Johnson brought the original festival back to life at Bayport BBQ for a long weekend of shows leading into 2012’s fourth of July. Threaded through the festival were the seven acts collected here, all of whom record for the Alive label. The majority of these bands hail from the Midwest –Iowa,Indiana,Ohio and Pennsylvania – with fellow travelers Lee Bains arriving from Alabama, and Henry’s Funeral Shoe hopping over the pond from the UK. It’s a testament to Alive’s A&R department that they’ve fostered a stable of bands with similar roots but individual flavors.

At the blunter end of the spectrum are Radio Moscow, with Parker Griggs opening “Hold on Me” with stinging psychedlic wah wah atop a percussion section that takes no prisoners. Henry’s Funeral Shoe has often echoed the British blues-rock giants of the 1970s, but here they are more rough-and-ready, like the Live at Leeds-era Who. Philadelphia’s John the Conqueror is the sort of power trio you’d expect to hear in the run-down ballrooms of Almost Famous, forceful and melodic. Left Lane Cruiser sticks most closely to the classic blues progressions on “24 Hour Blues,” with Freddy J IV’s guitar a ragged, driving machine and Brenn Beck a one-man rhythm section on drums and cymbals. Mark Holder adds his harp to the band’s cover of Robert Johnson’s “Rambling on My Mind.”

More nuanced is Lee Bains III’s mix of sanctified soul and the aggressive electric aesthetic that is Alive’s hallmark. Similarly, Brian Olive’s take has the same core energy, but filled out less abrasively with keyboard, drums and bass lines that glide, roll and rumble in a powerful wall of sound. The Buffalo Killers, who often suggest James Gang-era Joe Walsh, expand on a nine-minute jam of “It’s a Shame” with harmonica player Mark Holder sitting in. It’s great to hear these bands together (even if only through the magic of editing), offering the numerous shades of two- and three-man blues that is their label’s stock-in-trade. [©2012 Hyperbolium]

Alive Records’ Home Page