songs of america

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Cowboy Junkies; At the End of Paths Taken (Zoe) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Cowboy Junkies; At the End of Paths Taken (Zoe) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

When the Cowboy Junkies' breakthrough album The Trinity Sessions arrived in '87 music was getting noisy and Guns'N Roses stomped the planet. But the Junkies' famously cheap album -- recorded in a church for a couple of hundred dollars apparently -- captured the imagination, especially their version of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane. The mood of the...

Pete Seeger: American Favourite Ballads Vol 5 (Folkways/Elite)

Pete Seeger: American Favourite Ballads Vol 5 (Folkways/Elite)

Now closing in on 90, Seeger has had a great deal of attention lately: first Martin Scorsese's film on Dylan to '66 included interviews with him, and then Springsteen raided Pete's vast catalogue for his recent studio album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. He was also nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by an e-mail petition. Seeger's...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007 Iron and Wine: The Shepherd's Dog (SunPop/Rhythmethod)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007 Iron and Wine: The Shepherd's Dog (SunPop/Rhythmethod)

Sam Beam -- who is Iron and Wine -- really sounds like he has hits his stride with this exceptional, engaging and folkadelic outing, and he's achieved that by just continuing on the same, mildly eccentric and determined path as he has taken on his previous albums and EPs. This time however the songs sound more full and fully formed, the array...

Jim White: Transnormal Skiperoo (Luaka Bop/Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Jim White: Transnormal Skiperoo (Luaka Bop/Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

White came into something close to mainstream attention with his droll film Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus, a poke around the backroads and backwoods of the American South and the music and characters that make it so distinctive. It was at times uncomfortable viewing, but also an essential documentary if you want to get a handle on...

Jake Shimabukuro: Gently Weeps (Hitchhike)

Jake Shimabukuro: Gently Weeps (Hitchhike)

Shimabukuro is a young Hawaiian ukulele player who is wowing people across the globe with his dexterity and style. The New Yorker called him "a phenomenon", the San Diego Union-Tribute said his live show was "dazzling" and the All Music Guide said he was that rarity, someone who "re-imagines the possibilities of...

Malcolm Holcombe: Gamblin' House (Borders)

Malcolm Holcombe: Gamblin' House (Borders)

Your first response to this gruff-voiced, whisky-stained singer-songwriter may be, "how come I haven't heard of him sooner?"Well, diligent Elsewhere listeners may well have: he appeared on the massive and ambitious Songs of America triple set which appeared here some months back. He sang The Old Woman Taught Wisdom, a song which dates...

THE BAND; ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE BOX SET (1994): Genius all boxed up . . . or maybe not all.

THE BAND; ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE BOX SET (1994): Genius all boxed up . . . or maybe not all.

For the record, I turned off the Band around the period they hit the cover of Time magazine in January 1970 - which is to say I never really got into them. This is no brag that when they went commercial I bailed out, more like that guy who yelled “Judas” at Bob Dylan when he plugged in. Just a case of woeful stupidity....

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

After calling it quits in 2002, frontman Chris Robinson going solo, then their resurrection with Warpaint last year (which brought in guitarist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars), the Black Crowes rarely sounded so on top of their game. And they followed Warpaint with a double punch Warpaint Live (the album played live and...

Ashokan Farewell/Sullivan Ballou Letter (from 1861)

Ashokan Farewell/Sullivan Ballou Letter (from 1861)

Among the many remarkable documentaries which American filmmaker Ken Burns has helmed (Jazz, Baseball, those on various architects) the most outstanding and compelling is perhaps his series The Civil War. To keep your attention over so many episodes was a feat in itself, but to do so with no moving footage -- just period stills -- was...

Waylon Jennings and Steve Cash: They Laid Waste to Our Land (1978)

Waylon Jennings and Steve Cash: They Laid Waste to Our Land (1978)

Melody Maker was blunt about the country music concept album White Mansions on its release in '78: "A dilemma -- on the one hand we have some exceptionally good music; on the other, a project of doubtful worth". Because White Mansions -- which featured Jessi Colter and her husband Waylon Jennings, John Dillon and Steve Cash with...

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...

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