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John Prine and Mac Wiseman: Standard Songs for Average People (Oh Boy)

John Prine and Mac Wiseman: Standard Songs for Average People (Oh Boy)

Elsewhere has never pretended to be fashionable, and this one certainly ain't. Two salty old pals just a-sittin' and a-playin' a bunch of tunes from their back pages: Bob Wills' Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age; Charlie Feathers' I Forgot To Remember To Forget; Saginaw Michigan; Old Cape Cod; The Blue Side of Lonesome; Old Rugged Cross . . . It...

Various: Wounded Heart of America; Tom Russell Songs (Hightone)

Various: Wounded Heart of America; Tom Russell Songs (Hightone)

Some weeks ago I was invited to give a talk about some of my favourite music to a group of people in someone's home. It was a very pleasant night and the first few things I played were either by the American singer-songwriter Tom Russell or his songs sung by others (notably Joe Ely covering the dramatic Gallo Del Cielo which I said I could...

Blanche: Little Amber Bottles (LooseMusic/Shock)

Blanche: Little Amber Bottles (LooseMusic/Shock)

Think Johnny Cash duetting with Nancy Sinatra; think alt.country from Detroit with Gothic overtones; think Nick Cave with a backwoods twang . . . This band out of the Motor City USA has a real country heart, so much so that Jack White hooked them in to support Loretta Lynn on the Van Lear Rose album he produced for her. Mainman Dan John...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (New West/Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (New West/Elite)

The Truckers inspire passionate loyalty for their Southern-framed country rock'n'roll and literate, sometimes provocative, lyrics. They often make you want to crack the top off a beer and kick back, but the words touch some deep and dark places as well. Here they open with a weary song about a guy at the gates of Heaven ("two...

Willie Nelson: Moment of Forever (Lost Highway)

Willie Nelson: Moment of Forever (Lost Highway)

Whether he's singing sentimental songs (like the Kristofferson-penned title track here), evoking some kind of outlaw mentality or harking back to history (his take on Randy Newman's Louisiana here lightly updated to make it more relevant post-Katrina) there is still something magical about Willie's vocals. He slides behind a beat to give a...

Carlene Carter: Stronger (YepRoc/Southbound)

Carlene Carter: Stronger (YepRoc/Southbound)

It's hardly surprising that on her first album in more than a dozen years there are songs about loss: in 2003 she buried her mother June Carter, her stepfather Johnny Cash, her partner Howie Epstein (of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers) and her sister Rosie. That said, this album seems to also want to live up to its title and on material like Why Be...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Felice Brothers: The Felice Brothers (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Felice Brothers: The Felice Brothers (Shock)

These three actual brothers (and a friend) weighed in with the Tonight at the Arizona which made the Best of Elsewhere 2007 list and turned up as many a critic's favourite Americana album.This long-awaited sequel follows an interim album sold at gigs, and a few of those songs are now available on this self-titled album (and some other tracks...

Hacienda Brothers: Arizona Motel (Southbound)

Hacienda Brothers: Arizona Motel (Southbound)

A sad shadow hangs over this album by a traditional country outfit whose two previous albums have found a place at Elsewhere: singer-songwriter and frontman Chris Gaffney died of liver cancer in April after this album was completed.With his musical partner Dave Gonzalez, Gaffney formed the Hacienda Brothers six years ago and their exceptional...

Larry Jon Wilson; Larry Jon Wilson (1965 Records)

Larry Jon Wilson; Larry Jon Wilson (1965 Records)

Strange though it may seem that in the same week Elsewhere gives a heads-up to the forthcoming album by the formidable Grace Jones, we also acknowledge this positively ancient country-folk singer. But Elsewhere has always found a place for the likes of Wilson, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and others in their 60s and beyond. Wilson won't be a...

Rodney Crowell: The Houston Kid (Sugar Hill)

Rodney Crowell: The Houston Kid (Sugar Hill)

Rodney Crowell's star has been in steady decline since the 80s and now the former son-in-law of Johnny Cash and rockin' country singer-songwriter is on the same minor label as Dolly Parton who also seems to prefer a smaller label. On first hearing, the quasi-autobiographical The Houston Kid sounds uneven, but after a few plays its power...

Rodney Crowell: Sex and Gasoline (Shock)

Rodney Crowell: Sex and Gasoline (Shock)

Crowell's 2001 album The Houston Kid -- hard-won narratives in passingly autobiographical songs - hinted that he was getting a late-career second wind after some pretty indifferent albums in the late 80s/90s. This album confirms that, after The Outside of 2005, his songwriting and story-telling skills certainly haven't deserted him and in...

Alison Moorer: Mockingbird (New Line)

Alison Moorer: Mockingbird (New Line)

Moorer has quite some story: she is the younger sister of Shelby Lynne, was 14 at time of the murder-suicide of her parents, her ballad A Soft Place to Fall appeared in The Horse Whisperer and earned her a Grammy nomination, and she is the seventh Mrs Steve Earle (although to be fair to Steve he married Lou-Anne Gill twice) with whom she...

Ry Cooder:The Ry Cooder Anthology, The UFO Has Landed (Warners)

Ry Cooder:The Ry Cooder Anthology, The UFO Has Landed (Warners)

Given the length - not to mention the breadth - of his career, this crammed double disc could almost still seem paltry. Cooder has recorded about 30 albums, reached from classic film soundtracks (Paris Texas and The Long Riders) to the Buena Vista Social Club, recorded concept albums (the recent LA trilogy) and pared-back acoustic material....

U2: Achtung Baby (1991); Zooropa (1993)

U2: Achtung Baby (1991); Zooropa (1993)

Bono from U2 tells a good story. In fact Bono has a lot of good stories but this one is revealing . . . It seems that backstage at some gig in the mid Eighties Bob Dylan was playing an acoustic guitar and handed it to him. Dylan asked him to play one their songs. Bono said he realised in that moment that they didn’t have any real...

Various: Troubadours Vol 1 (Exile)

Various: Troubadours Vol 1 (Exile)

My guess is that you'd have to look long and hard (possibly through secondhand bins) to find albums by Glen Moffatt, Al Hunter and Red McKelvie who, from the late Eighties to the mid-Nineties carried the flag for contemporary New Zealand country music. They didn't owe a lot to Nashville other than the sense of a song but were too straight to...

Willie Nelson: Lost Highway (Lost Highway)

Willie Nelson: Lost Highway (Lost Highway)

Another month, another Willie album, huh? This 17 track collection of songs from his period on the Lost Highway label (and some unreleased material) comes hard on the heels of his American Classic album (a sequel of sorts to his excellent Stardust of many years ago, Willie on standards) and prior to that there was the natural pairing with...

Kieran Kane: Somewhere Beyond the Roses (Shock)

Kieran Kane: Somewhere Beyond the Roses (Shock)

If nothing else, and there is a lot of "else" here, the instrumentation on this new album by the Nashville singer-songwriter Kane would be pretty arresting: drums, electric guitar, banjo and baritone sax, the latter from Deanna Varragona who has played with Lambcop. It makes for a sound which can be sprightly (the banjo) but also...

NICK LOWE INTERVIEWED (2009): As times go by

NICK LOWE INTERVIEWED (2009): As times go by

It is one of the ironies of Nick Lowe’s life that -- despite producing the first three Elvis Costello albums, the success of his solo debut Jesus of Cool in ‘78 (retitled Pure Pop for Now People in the more sensitive American market), being in the dream team with Cooder and drummer Jim Keltner on the exceptional John Hiatt album...

Rosanne Cash: The List (EMI)

Rosanne Cash: The List (EMI)

Of all the songs Johnny Cash recorded in his final years the most moving was September When It Comes on his daughter Rosanne‘s album Rules of Travel: “I cannot move a mountain now,” he croaked. It  brought tears to the eye. Rosanne Cash has had an erratic career: her first albums were excellent then things went wobbly;...

Wall of Voodoo: Dark Continent/Call of the West (Raven)

Wall of Voodoo: Dark Continent/Call of the West (Raven)

Stan Ridgway, frontman for Wall of Voodoo, was one of the smartest, story-telling songwriters -- and nervously energetic singers -- to emerge in the wake of American new wave in the early Eighties. Sadly most people might only know them for their terrific single Mexican Radio and relegate them to that one-hit-wonder category reserved for...

Linda Ronstadt: Hand Sown . .. Home Grown/Silk Purse (Raven/EMI)

Linda Ronstadt: Hand Sown . .. Home Grown/Silk Purse (Raven/EMI)

Long before she was a country-rock cover star and dating California governor Jerry Brown in the late Seventies, Linda Ronstadt was a singer struggling to find her forte. Her albums with the Stone Poneys showed her folk-rock chops and their cover of Mike Nesmith's Different Drum gave them a hit but also signalled a solo career beckoning for...

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

Although his previous album This Old Road won some critical plaudits, it is hard to hear Closer to the Bone as much other than a collection of sentimental songs, some of which border on the trite. Kristofferson, especially in recent years, has never been much of a singer (he concedes that) but here his voice really has lost most of its...

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

This soundtrack album is from the excellent movie which has been picking up Jeff Bridges acclaim and awards, as it should. He does a terrific job as an aging country singer whose career has been derailed by booze and drugs and itinerancy. And who looks for all the world like Kris Kristofferson might have if he hadn't pulled himself up a notch or...

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

Just from the repeated electric strum here, Waylon Jennings was announcing a different kind of country music: and its minimal sound threw even greater attention on his lyrics which questioned the whole country music establishment as epitomised by the smooth Nashville Sound, the Grand Ole Opry and the Music Row writers cranking out generic songs....

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

In recent years I have been lecturing in contemporary music (rock'n'roll to hip-hop) and it has been an insight for me. After showing clips of a young and wild Elvis for example some students will come to me afterwards and express surprise: they only knew him from parodies as that boring fat guy. History is reductive: it's necessary to remind...

Moriarty: Gee Whiz but this is a Lonesome Town (Carte!l/Border)

Moriarty: Gee Whiz but this is a Lonesome Town (Carte!l/Border)

In an odd reversal of the journey Marianne Dissard took -- from France to Arizona to create Fanco-alt.country -- this group fronted by Rosemary Moriarty out of Ohio (they are Ramones-like all called Moriarty) have an established following in France where they reside for their alt.country, old time folk. With harmonica, double bass, acoustic...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

Willie Nelson makes so many albums these days – from Western Swing with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex-Mex to jazz stylings with Wynton Marsalis – that it's helpful this title is a product description. So here's Willie – now 77 – going back to songs by Ernest Tubb, Doc Watson, Hank Williams and others, as well...

ROSANNE CASH INTERVIEWED (2004): The road less travelled

ROSANNE CASH INTERVIEWED (2004): The road less travelled

When Rosanne Cash crashed into the country music scene in the late 80s she was, as the Americans say, a real piece of work. With purple hair, a drug problem and a brusque manner, she arrived in Nashville from California and immediately alienated the country music establishment. Despite her high irritant factor, Cash - daughter of Johnny...

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

Elsewhere agrees with itself that Willie Nelson makes too many albums these days (although the last one Country Music was excellent). But the collection to return to repeatedly is Classic and Unreleased, a '95 Rhino box set of Willie's early years. In it you can hear the gifted songwriter that everyone recognised, and the utterly personal...

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

As in rock‘n‘roll, country music has its casualties, like Hank Williams who died at age 29 in the back of his chauffeur-driven Cadillac on the way to a gig. Others make a longer crawl to the bottom through years of drink, dope, one-night stands in cheap bars where they stagger through versions of their hits with a local...

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

There has been quite a tradition in country music of complaining about how it has lost its roots, lost its way, been taken over by big business and stars selling out for the almighty dollar. Way back Waylon asked Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way? and ol' Hank Williams (something of a rebel himself, remember) seems to be the touchstone for...

Willie Nelson: Rarities Vol 1 (Great American Music/Southbound)

Willie Nelson: Rarities Vol 1 (Great American Music/Southbound)

Another week, another Willie album? (Previously here the joke was another month, another Willie but . . .) So it has seemed lately -- but this isn't new material: here are songs by Willie from betweeen 1959 and '65,  11 of them just solo with guitar, the rest with a small band. The solo pieces -- only one breaking the two minute mark...

George Jones: The Great Lost Hits (Time Life/Southbound)

George Jones: The Great Lost Hits (Time Life/Southbound)

Lawd almighty, but ain't there been some archival albums appearing lately? In the past few weeks Elsewhere has noted albums of Bob Dylan barely out of his teens (here); Kris Kristofferson before the fame (here), Willie Nelson's earliest material (here) . . . and now the great George Jones. The honky-tonk balladeer, country weeper (Things...

Johnny Cash: Understand Your Man (1964)

Johnny Cash: Understand Your Man (1964)

The friendship and mutual admiration in the late Sixties between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan has been well documented: they did some sessions together in '69 (their duet on Girl From the North Country appeared on Dylan's Nashville Skyline), and Cash subsequently invited Dylan onto his television show as a guest. But their friendship went back...

Tom Jones: Praise and Blame (Island)

Tom Jones: Praise and Blame (Island)

The late-career revival isn't uncommon these days (Bob Dylan, Bettye LaVette, Solomon Burke, Johnny Cash et al) but it still comes as a surprise, especially in the case of 70-year old Tom Jones who could have coasted into retirement with albums of interesting standards (in the manner of Rod Stewart) or even just pick up a few contemporary songs...

Willie Nelson: Healing Hands of Time (1961)

Willie Nelson: Healing Hands of Time (1961)

By the time Willie Nelson laid down this demo of what is arguably one of the greatest songs of his pre-fame period, he had already written Family Bible (a top 10 country hit for Claude Gray although Nelson had sold the song outright so got no writing credit or cash) and Hello Walls (number one for nine weeks in '61 for Faron Young). Crazy,...

Jim Reeves: He'll Have To Go (1960)

Jim Reeves: He'll Have To Go (1960)

One of the saddest songs ever penned, He'll Have to Go became a signature ballad for the man they called Gentleman Jim Reeves. Reeves (1923-64) had the vocal ease of Bing Crosby but with less of the Crosby's lower register scuff: if Bing was brown, Jim was tan. And there was something about his slow aching honesty that made him the perfect...

Dierks Bentley: What Was I Thinkin' (2003)

Dierks Bentley: What Was I Thinkin' (2003)

One of the features of country music which make it a great soundtrack when driving is that the songs often tell stories. Sometimes those narratives are maudlin and sentimental, sometimes they really hit a spot in the heart -- and sometimes they are just kinda dumb fun. Like this one. In '04 while driving across the Southern states, this...

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

After trying for the same late-career revival as Johnny Cash with producer Rick Rubin - to lesser commercial and critical success -- Diamond now delivers the album he has said he's always wanted to do: a collection of covers, including his own early song I'm A Believer made famously a hit by the Monkees. Diamond is a man who always seems to...

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

The truth about Billy Joe Shaver is much more interesting than anything anyone might make up about the guy. Shaver has lived on the hard edge of life. Born in Corsicana in Texas in late 1941 or '39 depending on where you read it (“just a cotton-gin town, the same one Lefty Frizzell came from") and raised in Waco, he lost two...

JIMMY WEBB INTERVIEWED (2005). The songwriter's songwriter

JIMMY WEBB INTERVIEWED (2005). The songwriter's songwriter

When Jimmy Webb, one of the most sophisticated and successful songwriters of his generation, speaks of making music it is like eavesdropping on genius. And that is what he is considered to be by his peers and those who have followed his long career. Before he was 21 Webb had already written some of pop’s most enduring songs, including...

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Following Cash's Personal File: Bootleg Vol I -- and of course the Dylan bootleg series, Kris Kristofferson's Austin Sessions and demoes, George Jones' Great Lost Hits and various Willie Nelson issues of early demos and sessions -- there is no shortage of material for scholars researching these artists. This Johnny Cash double disc from his...

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

Despite it's promising subtitle "A Documentary", this 90 minute overview of Johnny Cash's career is little more than a Reader's Digest synopsis where much is glossed over (just why was the death of his older brother so traumatic?) and important events are left hanging or unexplored. It is also scrupulously free of a single note of...

JOHNNY CASH REMEMBERED 2006: Solitary, and singular, man

JOHNNY CASH REMEMBERED 2006: Solitary, and singular, man

The last photographs of Johnny Cash told their own story: the thinning grey hair, the once tough jaw bent out of shape by years of painful dental surgery, the lines which spoke of a world-weariness. And the ineffable sadness in those dark eyes as if he was looking into the beyond where he would once again be with his wife June, who died just...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

In the late Seventies, Tom Paxton was still appearing in rock encyclopedias. It was a time when rock was still close enough to some of its folk roots (post-Dylan) for him to still be relevant. These days Paxton -- now in his early 70s and still performing -- may seem just a footnote in rock (usually mentioned in passing with regard to...

The The: I'm a Long Gone Daddy (1994)

The The: I'm a Long Gone Daddy (1994)

Any number of country artists have lined up to pay tribute to the great Hank Williams whose career was cut short in 1952 at age 29 when he was found dead in the back of his car through a combination of drugs, alcohol and his lifestyle. In six short years Williams wrote songs which went from hoe-down party music (Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin')...

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

In his recent collection of essays Listen to This, the New Yorker music critic Alex Ross has an interesting and provocative piece on Bob Dylan. It opens, “America is no country for old men. Pop culture is a pedophile's delight” then he ask what – in this world of manufactured teen pop – we are to do with “a...

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez has never had her rediscovery by a new generation, but this reissue of her excellent folk-rock album of ' 92 – with an extra disc of demos including Dylan's early Seven Curses which only appeared on his recent Witmark Demos 1962-64 – is a smart starting place as it found her back in Nashville after a 20 year absence and...

THE GRAND OLE OPRY PRESENTS . . . CLASSICS (Time Life 5-DVD set)

THE GRAND OLE OPRY PRESENTS . . . CLASSICS (Time Life 5-DVD set)

Can you have too much of that old time mainstream country music? Some might say that five discs and 10 hours of country singers at the Grand Ole Opry might just be that bridge too far . . . and to be honest I didn't get more than halfway through this set which draws mostly from the Fifties and Sixties. It is hilarious of course if you just...

Bob Dylan: The Very Best of Bob Dylan's 80s (Sony Legacy)

Bob Dylan: The Very Best of Bob Dylan's 80s (Sony Legacy)

As it was happening, Bob Dylan's Eighties seemed somewhat of a wasteland only sparsely populated by songs which had any great resonance. And many which did -- Brownsville Girl co-written with playwright Sam Shepard for example, on the largely awful Knocked Out Loaded in '86 -- weren't sympathetically produced. Certainly songs like Jokerman...

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

The captivatingly named rock troubadour Vile from Philadelphia offers a kind of alt.folk-cum-indie rock skew which refers to Cohen as much as Cobain. But he also has an ear for a mainstream rock melody (Puppet the the Man here with AOR guitars behind his echoed alt.rock vocals) and recently said his current listening includes the Stones'...

TEX PERKINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Cash money and black is back

TEX PERKINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Cash money and black is back

The hotel's drawn blinds shut out the mid-morning Auckland sun, pills are scattered on a table, the remains of takeaway food are on another and there's a pervasive air of “the morning-after”. “Yeah, very Johnny Cash,” says Tex Perkins, the room's slightly disheveled occupant, in a husky and weary voice. The...

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

When this Willie Nelson song started to get a bit of attention around the time of the movie Brokeback Mountain, many people -- myself included -- assumed it had been prompted by that film. But the story of it goes back quite a way and the song's writer Ned Sublette tells it in his excellent book The Year Before the Flood about his time in...

Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

Not many people know about Texan Mickey Newbury, who died almost a decade ago, age 62. Maybe it's enough Elvis (who made Newbury's medley An American Trilogy a cornerstone of his latter performances) did. And that Mickey's songs were covered by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez and dozens of others. Often spoken of...

Johnny Cash: The Chicken in Black (1984)

Johnny Cash: The Chicken in Black (1984)

Fortunately for Johnny Cash he didn't die around the time he hit rock bottom in the mid Eighties. If he'd gone then -- before his career resurrection through the American Recordings and the Walk the Line film -- he might not have been remembered as the man-mountain solid rock of country, the troubled man of faith or the middle-finger...

BOB DYLAN'S HIGHWAY REVISITED AT 33, 45 AND 70: Back to mono

BOB DYLAN'S HIGHWAY REVISITED AT 33, 45 AND 70: Back to mono

When it was announced Bob Dylan had recorded an MTV Unplugged session in late '94, a wag within earshot guffawed and said, "But wasn't he always?" Which was sort of true. There are any number of people across a few generations who have imprinted in their consciousness the image of the impossibly young Dylan, acoustic guitar in...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2007): Out of the Blue

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2007): Out of the Blue

Almost 20 years ago on her self-titled album, Lucinda Williams sang Am I Too Blue, a penetratingly drained song about loneliness and self-doubt. If it hadn’t been for some flashes of jangling pop and a few light-hearted romps in the intervening years, the essence of Am I Too Blue and its honest weariness might stand as Williams’...

Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges (Blue Note)

Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges (Blue Note)

After his multiple awards-winning turn as broken down country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, and the spin-off T Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack, there should be interest in this (also produced by Burnett) where Bridges again sings persuasively on originals and material by John Goodwin, Stephen Bruton (who wrote most of the Crazy Heart...

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEWED (2005): Rebel with a scholarship

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEWED (2005): Rebel with a scholarship

Before he was 40 Kris Kristofferson -- now in his 70s -- had lived enough to fill the pages of at least a couple of wild novels. And the real craziness was still to come. In the 80s Kristofferson greeted a journalist with, “Let’s have some dope”. The interviewer reported she remained high just by breathing his exhaust. Born...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Glen Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas (Inertia)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Glen Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas (Inertia)

Alongside his Alzheimer's diagnosis and a farewell tour comes this self-announced “final studio album” by the 75-year old legend whose career spans from LA session guitar work in the late 50s as one of the famous Wrecking Crew on Phil Spector productions, to being a touring Beach Boy, solo hits with Jimmy Webb songs and movies...

STEVE EARLE INTERVIEWS (2004, 2002): A hero on the homefront . . . and relevant album reviews

STEVE EARLE INTERVIEWS (2004, 2002): A hero on the homefront . . . and relevant album reviews

By 2004, Steve Earle could reflect on a career and life which had been one of the most extraordinary in American music. He crashed into country music with his 1986 classic rockin' country album Guitar Town then spun through a drug-fuelled downward spiral which earned him a prison term in the early 90s. He emerged a stronger man, vocal...

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

It is coming up close to two decades since Nick Lowe -- once a laddish and witty figure in British rock in the immediate post-punk days -- decided to take the long view on his career and reposition himself. As he told Elsewhere late last year, “Back when I first got noticed in the Seventies it was for being rather irreverent and...

JOHNNY CASH AT FOLSOM PRISON;THE MAKING OF A MASTERPIECE by MICHEAL STREISSGUTH

JOHNNY CASH AT FOLSOM PRISON;THE MAKING OF A MASTERPIECE by MICHEAL STREISSGUTH

A hip comedy club, New York, late 1980s. The stand-up delivers a one-liner which has the smart set baying: "Does anyone know why Johnny Cash still wears black?"  At the time Cash's career was in one of its periodic lows. In the 90s it would be turned around with the spare and elemental albums under the genre-defining banner...

WILLIE NELSON INTERVIEWED 1998: The hard working lazy man

WILLIE NELSON INTERVIEWED 1998: The hard working lazy man

There’s not a lot you can say about the latest Willie Nelson album Teatro. Produced by Daniel Lanois, it’s Nelson’s second for the Island label after the critically acclaimed Spirit, has a band which includes Emmylou Harris and Luscious Jackson drummer Tony Mangurian, and is little more -- or less -- than another addition to...

WILLIE NELSON ALBUM REVIEWS 2000 - 2005: What a long strange trip

WILLIE NELSON ALBUM REVIEWS 2000 - 2005: What a long strange trip

He smoked a joint on the roof of the White House, sang with Julio Iglesias and on We Are The World, and he's still here. And still great -- sometimes. Willie Nelson, much like Dean Martin, has an effortless approach to life -- and recording. He could, as they say, sing a telephone directory and make it sound intersting. But latterly it is...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Willie Nelson, The Box Set Series

THE BARGAIN BUY: Willie Nelson, The Box Set Series

There's certainly no shortage of Willie Nelson compilations in the world, and the guy is still turning out albums . . . although his recent Band of Brothers is the first to contain mostly new songs in almost two decades. You have to go right back to Spirit in '96 for an album of new songs. So Willie seems to accept that for the most part...

Guy Clark: Workbench Songs (Dualtone)

Guy Clark: Workbench Songs (Dualtone)

Clark has been one of the pillars of West Texas/Mex-influenced singer-songwriters, and of his dozen or so albums at least half would be in any serious country and alt.country collection. For this album he sometimes sounds much older than his 65 years, sometimes considerably younger. That's a measure of how he puts himself into his...

Greg Brown: The Evening Call (Red House/Elite)

Greg Brown: The Evening Call (Red House/Elite)

Iowa-born singer-songwriter Brown is one of those singer-songwriters that other artists line up to pay tribute to: in fact Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco, Gillian Welch and others appeared on a tribute to him a few years back. He's a poet (he recorded an album of William Blake poems) and is very much in the boho-Beat Generation lineage whose...

Hacienda Brothers; What's Wrong With Right? BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Hacienda Brothers; What's Wrong With Right? BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

The self-titled 2005 debut by these old hands -- singer-songwriter Dave Gonzalez from the rockabilly outfit the Paladins, and guitarist/accordionist Chris Gaffney from Dave Alvin's band -- sounded somewhere between Waylon's wobbly warble and Willie's languorous delivery, and their album came with impeccable credentials: it was produced by Dan...

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