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Posts tagged ‘Guy Clark’

200 Reasons to be Happy!

There was a feature in Uncut magazine last month, listing the 200 Greatest Albums of All Time. Greatest, Best, Finest, Most Influential; no matter what how you want to define it, a selection like that is more than a bit subjective, isn’t it? Many of the Uncut selections were fairly predictable. Not that the albums themselves were boring —- most are pretty much classics that are guaranteed to please — it’s just that we’re all used to seeing familiar choices such as Pet Sounds, Blonde On Blonde, Astral Weeks, Forever Changes, Ziggy Stardust, Kind of Blue, Tapestry, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Love Supreme, Exile On Main Street, What’s Going On, Are You Experienced?, and After the Goldrush on these sorts of lists, so there weren’t many true surprises.

tarneyspencer

But the Uncut list got me to thinking about my own Top 200. By no means would I dare to label my choices as a “Best” or “Greatest” list, rather these are simply my favorite albums, those proverbial Desert Island Discs that I’ve played endless times over the years and ones that I could never willingly part with. In the realm of list compilers, I suppose I cheated a bit, picking some hits/best of packages, various artist collections, live albums, and even a couple of boxed sets. But hey, they are my favorites, so I won’t apologize.

featsdontfailme

Like most listeners, my taste in music was heavily influenced by the music that I heard when growing up, mostly songs on the radio. In my case, the “formative” years were in the 1960s when I started listening to the radio and in the early 1970s when I started buying music. But I’ve maintained a very heavy listening and buying habit in the ensuing decades, so you’ll see a smattering of more recent recordings on this list too. What can I say; I’m a music addict!

nilslofgren

I own thousands of albums and I agonized over whittling this list down to “only” 200. I’m sure that I’ll kick myself for missing a few, but looking over the choices, I’m pretty satisfied with them. But confining the list to 200 meant leaving off many great albums, including ones by some of my very favorite recording artists, such as the Temptations, Drive-By Truckers, George Jackson, Allen Toussaint, Otis Redding, Sly & the Family Stone, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, the Go-Betweens, Booker T & the MGs, Glen Campbell, Isaac Hayes, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, the Byrds, and so many others.

BOC_agents

These albums are not ranked in order of most favorite, just alphabetically by album title. I’m certain that there are more than a few picks that will strike you as odd or perplexing. My choices could be as obscure as the great Tom Foolery album or the fantastic debut recording by Love Tractor, or something as mainstream as Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, or Agents of Fortune by Blue Oyster Cult, but these are the albums that remain the nearest and dearest to my heart.

lovetractor

The first pick on my list is a good example of my loose criteria: the first two albums by Big Star. I had both albums as a 2-LP import record back in the early 1980s, and now I own the 2-CD package, so in my mind these two albums are inseparable, just one complete blissful listening experience that can’t be divided.

bigstar_1

Big Star #1 Record/Radio City
20/20 20/20
Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs
Jimmy Buffett A-1-A
Blue Oyster Cult Agents of Fortune
Richard Lloyd Alchemy
 

crackthesky_an

 

 

Crack the Sky                    Animal Notes

Marvin Gaye Anthology
Ramones Anthology
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Architecture and Morality
Squeeze Argy Bargy
Van Morrison Astral Weeks
Cheap Trick At Budokan
Allman Brothers Band At the Fillmore East
nrbq_ys

NRBQ           At Yankee Stadium

 

 

 

Daryl Hall & John Oates Atlantic Collection
B-52’s B-52’s, the
Warren Zevon Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School
Paul McCartney & Wings Band on the Run
Band, the Band, the
Bob Dylan & the Band Basement Tapes, the
 

beatretreat

Various Artists                     Beat the Retreat: Songs By Richard Thompson

 

 

 

Hollies Best of the Hollies
Kimberley Rew Bible of Bop
XTC Black Sea
Bob Dylan Blood On the Tracks
Michael Murphey Blue Sky Night Thunder
 

spoolq_blue

Swimming Pool Q’s       Blue Tomorrow

 

 

 

Ry Cooder Bop Till You Drop
Bruce Springsteen Born To Run
U2 Boy
John Hiatt Bring the Family
 

prine_bruised

John Prine       Bruised Orange

 

 

 

Style Council Café Bleu
Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
David Byrne Catherine Wheel
Creedence Clearwater Revival Chronicle
Neil Diamond Classics: The Early Years
Jean-Michel Jarre Concerts in China
 

999_concrete

999      Concrete

 

 

 

Steely Dan Countdown To Ecstasy
Feelies Crazy Rhythms
Echo & the Bunnymen Crocodiles
Tom Petty Damn the Torpedoes
Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town
Dream Syndicate Days of Wine and Roses
R.E.M. Dead Letter Office
Neil Young Decade
 

utopia_deface

Utopia       Deface the Music

 

 

 

Sade Diamond Life
King Crimson Discipline
Atlanta Rhythm Section Dog Days
Elton John Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player
 

mcduff_downhome

Brother Jack McDuff        Down Home Style

 

 

 

Nektar Down To Earth
Waylon Jennings Dreaming My Dreams
Josh Rouse Dressed Up Like Nebraska
Bongos Drums Across the Hudson
Squeeze East Side Story
Wally Badarou Echoes
 

gpechoes

Glenn Phillips       Echoes: 1975-85

 

 

 

Everything But the Girl Eden
Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland
Pete Townshend Empty Glass
Gang of Four Entertainment
 

garland_escape

Garland Jeffreys       Escape Artist

 

 

 

Isley Brothers Essential
Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story
Yo La Tengo Fakebook
Little Feat Feats Don’t Fail Me Now
Snow Patrol Final Straw
 

heartsfield_foolish2

Heartsfield        Foolish Pleasures

 

 

 

Jackie Leven Forbidden Songs of the Dying West
Crosby Stills Nash & Young Four Way Street
Devo Freedom of Choice
New Musik From A to B
Nick Drake Fruit Tree (Boxed Set)
 

ec_gethappy

Elvis Costello       Get Happy

 

 

 

Gil Scott-Heron Glory: The Gil Scott-Heron Collection
Randy Newman Good Old Boys
World Party Goodbye Jumbo
Elton John Goodbye Yellowbrick Road
Gordon Lightfoot Gord’s Gold
Paul Simon Graceland
Green On Red Gravity Talks
Al Green Greatest Hits
Chi-Lites Greatest Hits
 

wrecklesseric

Wreckless Eric       Greatest Stiffs

 

 

 

Doll By Doll Gypsy Blood
Pylon Gyrate
Jimmy Cliff Harder They Come, the
Smiths Hatful of Hollow
Poco Head Over Heels
 

mf_heroes

Fleetwood Mac       Heroes Are Hard To Find

 

 

 

Rolling Stones Hot Rocks
Stevie Wonder Hotter Than July
Richard & Linda Thompson I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight
Nada Surf If I Had a Hi-Fi
Eurythmics In the Garden
Velvet Crush In the Presence of Greatness
Van Morrison Inarticulate Speech of the Heart
Various Artists Indestructible Beat of Soweto, the
Stevie Wonder Innervisions
 

ozark_shines

Ozark Mountain Daredevils

It’ll Shine When It Shines

 

 

 

Jonathan Richman Jonathan Goes Country
Steely Dan Katy Lied
Mink DeVille Le Chat Bleu
Wet Willie Left Coast Live
Replacements Let It Be
Elvin Bishop Let It Flow
Railway Children Listen On: The Best Of
 

grover_bijou

Grover Washington, Jr.       Live At the Bijou

 

 

 

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Live Bullet
Bob Marley & the Wailers Live!
Clash, the London Calling
 

ccody_ozone

Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen

Lost in the Ozone

 

 

 

Kitchens of Distinction Love is Hell
Love Tractor Love Tractor
Horslips Man Who Built America, the
Television Marquee Moon
James Taylor Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon
R.E.M. Murmur
 

longryders_ns

Long Ryders          Native Sons

 

 

 

Red Rider Neruda
Rod Stewart Never A Dull Moment
Gin Blossoms New Miserable Experience
Charlie Daniels Band Nightrider
Nils Lofgren Nils Lofgren
Ronnie Wood Now Look
 

guyclark_1

Guy Clark        Old #1/Texas Cookin’

 

 

 

Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel (3rd Album)
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
Knitters, the Poor Little Critter on the Road
Emmylou Harris Portraits (Boxed Set)
New Order Power Corruption & Lies
Shoes Present Tense/Tongue Twister
Pretenders Pretenders
Who, the Quadrophenia
 

jacobites_ragged

Jacobites (Nikki Sudden & Dave Kusworth)

Ragged School

 

 

 

Tom Waits Rain Dogs
Deacon Blue Raintown
Jayhawks, the Rainy Day Music
R.E.M. Reckoning
Willie Nelson Red Headed Stranger
Mekons Rock ‘n Roll
 

rockersOST

Various Reggae Artists

Rockers: Original Soundtrack

 

 

 

Ben Folds Rockin’ the Suburbs
Tarney-Spencer Band Run For Your Life
Jackson Browne Running On Empty
Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps
Clash, the Sandinista!
David Bowie Scary Monsters
Marshall Tucker Band Searchin’ For a Rainbow
 

dexys_youngsoul

Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

 

 

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd Second Helping
Rosanne Cash Seven Year Ache
O’Jays Ship Ahoy
Ry Cooder Show Time
UB40 Signing Off
 

linnlinn01

Linn Linn       Sin Za Ba

 

 

 

Buzzcocks Singles Going Steady
Records, the Smashes, Crashes, and Near Misses
Interview Snakes & Lovers
Robert Palmer Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley
Todd Rundgren Something Anything
Jam, the Sound Effects
Dan Fogelberg Souvenirs
 

spinners

Spinners       Spinners

 

 

 

Graham Parker Squeezing Out Sparks
Grant Green Steet Funk & Jazz Groove
Talking Heads Stop Making Sense
Lynyrd Skynyrd Street Survivors
Curtis Mayfield Superfly Soundtrack
Camper Van Beethoven Telephone Free Landslide Victory
 

ars_3rdannual

Atlanta Rhythm Section

Third Annual Pipe Dream

 

 

 

Moody Blues This is the Moody Blues
Replacements Tim
Tom Foolery Tom Foolery
Neil Young Tonight’s the Night
 

araces_toostuffed

Amazing Rhythm Aces    Too Stuffed To Jump

 

 

 

Reivers, the Translate Slowly
Elvis Costello Trust
Fleetwood Mac Tusk
Pure Prairie League Two Lane Highway
U2 Unforgettable Fire
 

pongsitunplugged

Pongsit Kampee & Lek Carabao

Unplugged (Plug Loot)

 

 

 

Fountains of Wayne Utopia Parkway
Durutti Column Valuable Passages
Ultravox Vienna
Jerry Jeff Walker Viva Terlingua
Joan Armatrading Walk Under Ladders
 

strummer_walker

Joe Strummer       Walker Soundtrack

 

 

 

Guadalcanal Diary Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man
Ian Hunter Welcome To the Club
Doobie Brothers What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
 

herbalpert_wc

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

Whipped Cream & Other Delights

 

 

 

X Wild Gift
Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball
Vulgar Boatmen You and Your Sister
Tom Petty You’re Gonna Get It

 

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Jason Isbell’s Triumph

It’s not too soon to be talking about Best Albums of the Year, and one of the contenders for that claim is Jason Isbell’s new album, Southeastern. Isbell is a former member of the acclaimed band Drive-By Truckers, but he left to pursue a solo career about six years ago. On his previous three albums, including the excellent concert recording, Live From Alabama, Isbell shared billing with his band, the 400 Unit, but he is using only his name on this new album. Isbell is an articulate, passionate songwriter, who writes melodic songs that stick in the head. One review I read likened him to a cross between author Raymond Carver and music legend Neil Young. Hmm … not a bad comparison.

isbell_southeastern

The new album is a continuation of the “thinking man’s southern rock” style of music that he — and also the Drive-By Truckers, who have continued making excellent albums even without Isbell, thanks to having another great songwriter, Patterson Hood in the band— excels at making, but on Southeastern Isbell has sharpened and elevated his craft to an even higher level. The new songs take on a more personal and reflective tone, reflecting some of the changes in Isbell’s own life in the past year or so. I think this is clearly Isbell’s best album yet. There are fewer rockers on the new album, favoring slower songs and ballads, but that doesn’t make the new compositions any less potent. This is powerful, moving music. In addition to that excellent album, here are the other goodies — both old and classic and new and intriguing — that are making me smile lately.

terryedwards

Terry Edwards – Birth of the Scapegoats

John Fogerty – Wrote a Song For Everyone

Irma Thomas – A Woman’s Viewpoint: The Essential 1970s Recordings

Various – Yellow Pills: Prefill

The Rail Band – Bell Epoque 1: Soundiata

slaidcleaves

Slaid Cleaves – Still Fighting the War

Passion Pit – Gossamer

Bobby Whitlock – Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

Solomon Burke – Proud Mary: The Bell Sessions

World Party – Arkeology

guyclark_favpic

Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record

Jonathan Edwards – Jonathan Edwards

The Three O’Clock – The Hidden World Revealed

Johnny Marr – The Messenger

grandbahama

Various Artists – Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay

Bob Mould – Silver Age

Jules Shear – Sayin’ Hello to the Folks

Various Artists – Eccentric Soul: Prix Label

Talking Heads – The Name of This Band is Talking Heads

kenyaspecial

Various – Kenya Special

The Strokes – Comedown Machine

The Budos Band – The Budos Band

Jim Boggia – Fidelity is the Enemy

Etta James – Who’s Blue? Rare Chess Recordings

mavericks_intime

The Mavericks – In Time

George Jackson – What Would Your Mama Say?

Babyface Willette – Stop & Listen

Canned Heat – The Very Best of

Gene Clark – No Other

twincitiesfunk

Various Artists – Twin Cities Funk & Soul

The Primitives – The Best of

Kelly Hogan & the Pine Vally Cosmonauts – Beneath the Country Underdog

Dean & Britta – L’Avventura

Robert Cray – Live at the BBC

headeastlive

Head East – Live

Andy Kim – How’d We Ever Get This Way/Rainbow Ride

Bobby Bland – Greatest Hits Vol. Two: The ABC-Dunhill/MCA Recordings

Donny Hathaway – Live

Owsley – The Hard Way

 

Music for Hot Weather

Everyone in Bangkok is dripping with sweat this month, complaining about the high temperatures and sticky humidity, and looking for air-conditioned sanctuary whenever and wherever possible. My solution: remove most of my clothing, stay inside with my ceiling fan, and listen to more music! These are the albums that are keeping me happy — and keeping me cool — this month:

 

Joan Armatrading – This Charming Life

Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Blacknuss

Wilco – The Whole Love

Tangerine Dream – Dream Sequence

The Move – The Very Best Of

 

Various Artists – Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon

Arthur Russell – World of Echo

Lee Fields – My World

Freddie Hubbard – Hub Tones

Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley – Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley

 

Dobie Gray – Drift Away/Loving Arms

Texas Tornados – Live from Austin, TX

Wayne Shorter – The Classic Blue Note Recordings

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Jackie Leven – Shining Brother Shining Sister

 

Jerry Butler – The Philadelphia Sessions

Milt Jackson – Sunflower

Nada Surf – Lucky

The Feelies – Here Before

Eddi Reader – Simple Soul

 

The Derek Trucks Band – Joyful Noise

Coleman Hawkins – The Hawk Flies High

The Roots – Things Fall Apart

Jellyfish – Spilt Milk

Aretha Franklin – Spirit in the Dark

 

Various Artists – Change is Gonna Come: the Voice of Black America 1963-1973

Father’s Children – Who’s Gonna Save the World

The JB’s – Funky Good Time: The Anthology

Crusaders – Crusaders 1

Little Feat and Friends – Join the Band

 

Beach Boys – Smile

Counting Crows – Underwater Sunshine

Cal Tjader & Eddie Palmieri – El Sonido Nuevo

Mekons – Ancient & Modern

World Party – Egyptology

 

Various Artists – This One’s for Him: a Tribute to Guy Clark

Maceo Parker – All the King’s Men

Terry Reid – River

Steely Dan – Aja

Amnesty – Free Your Mind: the 700 West Sessions

 

Edwin Starr – Hell Up in Harlem

Sloan – 4 Nights at the Palais Royale

Shuggie Otis – Here Comes Shuggie Otis/Freedom Flight

Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming

The Waterboys – An Appointment with Mr. Yeats

 

Heartworn Highways

It’s late December, 1975, and a group of musicians have gotten together to perform a few songs. This bunch of singer-songwriters were all young men, all based in the American Southwest (mostly from Texas), still relatively unknown to the music world, but in the words of this album’s producer, ones who “were beginning to change the landscape of country music.” What these musicians were offering was definitely not your traditional brand of hillbilly country, but something that was later dubbed “outlaw country” or even “progressive country.” More whiskey and Texas chili, as opposed to grits and biscuits.

Whatever the label, you could safely say, without exaggeration, that this was one of the greatest collections of singer-songwriters ever assembled; a jaw-dropping group of young mavericks that included Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, John Hiatt, Steve Earle, and Steve Young. Throw in interesting characters like Larry Jon Wilson, Gamble Rogers, and David Alan Coe, and the atmosphere becomes even more intoxicating — in more ways than one! The CD clocks in at nearly 80 minutes, offering stunning performances such as Van Zandt’s classic “Pancho and Lefty,” a few Guy Clark gems (“L.A. Freeway” and “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train”), Crowell’s “Bluebird Wine,” and Coe’s surprisingly tender “I Still Sing the Old Songs.”

Although the film was made in 1976, it’s not clear why it took over 30 years for these recordings to surface. But thanks to efforts by the label, the album’s producer, and sound engineers, a “meticulous audio restoration” was undertaken and the result is an incredible album. It sounds like you are right in the room with these guys, listening to history being made. Not only is this a priceless audio snapshot of great musicians during their formative years, it’s also a thrilling listening experience. And it may cause some listeners to redefine what they think of as country music. 

 

There is also a documentary companion to Heartworn Highways that contains even more music, including performances by Charlie Daniels. But it’s apparently now out of print and the last time I checked on Amazon, even used copies were selling for well over a hundred dollars. Have to patiently wait for a reissue or more affordable offerings.

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The biggest musical contributor to Heartworn Highways — at least the one with the most songs — was Guy Clark, at that time a young songwriter who had just released his first two albums, both of them flawless collections of well-crafted songs; Old No. 1 and Texas Cookin’. Pick any song off either of those albums and you have a classic. Really, it’s hard to think of an artist, in any genre, who had two better albums to launch a career. Although Guy Clark is perhaps best known as a songwriter whose songs have been covered by hundreds of other artists, he’s also a very good singer and the power of his songs are not diminished at all by having him perform them. Which I think, was one reason why fellow troubadour Townes Van Zandt never made it big. Townes was a great songwriter, no question about it, but his vocals took some getting used to. And while Guy Clark is no Willie Nelson in the vocals department, he’s much smoother than Townes. 

For yet another glimpse into the great songs and personalities of these musicians, check out Together at the Bluebird Café, a live album recorded in 1995 with contributions from Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Steve Earle. Wonderful tunes performed in small venue with some great between songs patter helps gives this album a refreshing down-to-earth homey vibe. This was also one of the last times the three shared a stage; Van Zandt passed away less than two years later.

 

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