troubadours

The contents of this page relate to troubadours.

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...

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....

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...

Bob Dylan: Folksinger's Choice (Left Field/Triton)

Bob Dylan: Folksinger's Choice (Left Field/Triton)

One of the revelations of the first of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series was the maturity of his voice for one so young. Songs like Moonshiner showed a wisdom and understanding well beyond his years. And this remarkable, and previously rare, album confirms that point -- and many more about the young Dylan and how he saw himself. Not as a...

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...

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,...

Barry Saunders: Far As The Eye Can See (Ode)

Barry Saunders: Far As The Eye Can See (Ode)

More than just a compilation of tracks from his various albums and radio sessions (including some from his excellent Zodiac album), this collection of songs by country-inflected singer-songwriter Saunders was a prompt for various painters and visual artists. Wellington curator Ron Epskamp of Exhibitions Gallery (here) invited 14 artists to...

Joan Baez: Simple Twist of Fate (1975)

Joan Baez: Simple Twist of Fate (1975)

In late '74 Joan Baez went into a studio with hot session musicians and jazz players (Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel, Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Wilton Felder), and she had been hanging around with her new friend Hampton Hawes. So jazz -- and Joni Mitchell -- was in the air, and Baez responded by delivering the album Diamonds and Rust which was...

Odetta: A legend ignored

Odetta: A legend ignored

To be honest, I had largely forgotten about Odetta until she died in 2008 at the age of 77. I imagined her as much older actually as she seemed to have been around since Biblical times, or at least all of my life. The great folk singer and activist had been an influence on the young Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, had sung in small halls and cafes,...

ODETTA INTERVIEWED (1989): The human touch

ODETTA INTERVIEWED (1989): The human touch

Folk singer Odetta has kept her sense of humour about the 15 year lull in her recording career. “I’ve just been practicing," she says, but is delighted by at last having another record out there in the marketplace. Despite her acclaim by audiences as far spread as Russia and Nigeria and accolades by Yale University,...

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...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

These are more good days for Lucinda Williams: happily married and comfortable, a Grammy nomination for Kiss Like Your Kiss (best song in a film or television series, it appeared in True Blood) and acclaim from her peers, critics and an increasing fan base. And she has a new album out, Blessed which was produced by Don Was, her husband...

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me (Nonesuch)

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me (Nonesuch)

With a languid delivery not dissimilar to Lucinda Williams but with a whole swag more alt.rock in her system, Mayfield certainly keeps excellent company: she appeared on the Black Keys' album Attack and Release (the Keys' Dan Auerbach produced this); she has opened for familiar Elsewhere names such as the Avett Brothers, Ray LaMontagne and Jay...

Bob Dylan: Copper Kettle (1970)

Bob Dylan: Copper Kettle (1970)

When Bob Dylan's 10th album -- the double vinyl Self Portrait -- was released in 1970 it was received with bewlidered or damning reviews, the most notable being Greil Marcus in Rolling Stone who began his abrasive review with "What is this shit?" Fair call perhaps, because this mish-mash of odd covers (a ragged treatment of Paul...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Barnaby Weir

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Barnaby Weir

Barnaby Weir out of Wellington, New Zealand, is best known as the man who steers the ambitious musical carnivals that are The Black Seeds and Fly My Pretties. But his 2011 debut solo album shows a very different side to his talents in songs which owe a debt to alt.country (and sometimes straight country) and have an emotional directness....

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...

SLIM WHITMAN PROFILED (1923-2013): A song to save the world

SLIM WHITMAN PROFILED (1923-2013): A song to save the world

In the early Eighties, the late Slim Whitman – who had recorded more than 65 albums -- still held down the record for the longest number one on the British charts, 11 consecutive weeks, a feat unmatched by Elvis or the Beatles. But back home in the States he was a singer without a song. He was a household name but few Americans...

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...

Matt Langley: Featherbones (Hometown)

Matt Langley: Featherbones (Hometown)

Langley's rootsy folk-cum-alt.country EP Lost Companions of 2007 – recorded in Wellington – announced a mature lyricist and a singer with a delivery like the best Americana artists (James McMurtry particularly) with a little Dylanesque drawl. It went past most, and this debut album is doing the same with few mainstream media...

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 FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Matt Langley

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Matt Langley

Matt Langley from Dunedin, New Zealand is one of the smaller but brightest lights on the musical landscape. His debut EP Lost Companions was critically well received but his album Featherbones showed the full measure of his talents which touch on folk, blues and alt.country. He does things the old fashioned way which others are now...

Chris Hurn: Too Busy Dreamin' (Monkey)

Chris Hurn: Too Busy Dreamin' (Monkey)

While owing a clear debt to Paul Simon, the young Dylan, early Donovan and others in the acoustic singer-songwriter category, this young guy from Lower Hutt just north of Wellington, New Zealand brings a pop sensibility to his writing (the openers here Watch Got and Only One I Need hook you immediately) and often a deliberately light touch...

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...

Bob Dylan: Jet Pilot (1965)

Bob Dylan: Jet Pilot (1965)

Although things would come to a literal grinding halt in mid '66 when he was tumbled from his motorcycle -- and he used the break to recover from emotional exhaustion after his lightspeed career of the previous four years -- in '65 Bob Dylan was still enjoying his position as the man who was taking folk and smart words into rock. During the...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Emmylou Harris, The Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Emmylou Harris, The Original Album Series (Rhino)

With a new Emmylou Harris album about to be released -- does an Emmylou album "drop"? -- it is timely to look briefly at this five CD set of her early solo albums. It skips past her work with Gram Parsons of course, and also her debut solo album Gliding Bird of '70 on the small Jubilee label but picks up her five Reprise albums...

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: In Concert, Brandeis University 1963 (Sony)

Bob Dylan: In Concert, Brandeis University 1963 (Sony)

As has been noted here, there is a lot more of Bob Dylan's past out there in the world than there ever was -- and of course he has quite some past. This from the very distant days in May '63 was recorded at the peak of his politicised folk period (the anthems Blowing in the Wind and Masters of War, the former not here, would be on his album...

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'...

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (New West)

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (New West)

Perhaps because there is already so much Steve Earle in the world -- this is his 14th studio album by my account -- there is very little frisson of delight or surprise coming from this album. Little Emperor would seem to be addressed to George W Bush ("no pomp and circumstance, no more shock and awe, you're just a little emperor that's...

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...

Seasick Steve: You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks (Liberator)

Seasick Steve: You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks (Liberator)

Steve – who makes or adapts his own guitars, counted Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain as friends and had Grinderman, Ruby Turner and KT Tunstall on his raw 08 album Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most of It Left – has been a hobo, busker and record producer in his time, and his blues-infused albums reflect stories of a...

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...

Greg Brown: Freak Flag (YepRoc)

Greg Brown: Freak Flag (YepRoc)

When you get to your 24th album you probably aren't expecting a major breakthrough in terms of having a whole new audience find you. And nothing on this fine album sounds like either a departure, or capable of taking this poet/singer beyond those who already know of him. Formerly the musical director on the famous A Prairie Home Companion...

Joe Ely: Satisfied at Last (Rack 'Em Records/Southbound)

Joe Ely: Satisfied at Last (Rack 'Em Records/Southbound)

The very good news is that the great Joe Ely -- who has delivered a few patchy albums in the past decade -- doesn't sound at all "satisfied" as the album's title would suggest. In fact from the opener The Highway is My Home to Butch Hancock's Circumstance 40 minutes later this tight'n'tidy 10 song collection has much of the old...

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...

Steve and Eydie: Black Hole Sun (1997)

Steve and Eydie: Black Hole Sun (1997)

The fad for lounge music in the late Nineties was amusing enough, but inevitably most of what emerged was forgettable. (Although who could expunge this from the memory.) Still, groups like Pizzicato Five were kind of amusing, and it was good to hear the great Esquivel and Martin Denny's names being mentioned in hip'n'fashionable...

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...

Bob Dylan: Dirge (1974)

Bob Dylan: Dirge (1974)

While flicking the pages of a rock magazine the other day I came on an interview with a young musician who cited among his current favourite listening Bob Dylan's Planet Waves. When that album was released it was met with polite but hardly laudatory reviews, and even the enormously successful and highly profitable tour with the Band...

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers: Starlight Hotel (Signature/Border)

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers: Starlight Hotel (Signature/Border)

Les alt. than country, Zoe Muth from Seattle invites favourable comparisons with Eilen Jewell and early Emmylou Harris, and a whole host of Nashville writers who are smart enough to still have their hearts in the honky-tonks. These are pedal steel and mandolin stories which cut out the fat and get right down to the sad and lonely bones of...

BOB DYLAN; 1990-2006: THE NEVER ENDING NARRATIVE (Chrome Dreams DVD)

BOB DYLAN; 1990-2006: THE NEVER ENDING NARRATIVE (Chrome Dreams DVD)

Although Bob Dylan closed his shapeless and directionless Eighties with the acclaimed Oh Mercy album produced by Daniel Lanois, no one would really have considered him ripe for a career reinvention. And Under the Red Sky of the following year -- a cast which included Slash, Bruce Hornsby, George Harrison and numerous others on material as...

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...

Brigitte DeMeyer: Rose of Jericho (BDM)

Brigitte DeMeyer: Rose of Jericho (BDM)

Although now five albums into her career, it is highly likely few have heard of this soulful country-rock singer who here co-produces with Brady Blade. She has a little gospel and blues in her (religion is scattered throughout) and marries that to fiddle and mandolin-coloured tunes which are instantly memorable. And many shine with the...

Aly Cook: Brand New Day (Ode)

Aly Cook: Brand New Day (Ode)

As with Katie Thompson, this mature and intelligent New Zealand singer-songwriter raised money to fund her debut album through the Sellaband scheme. And she's already on her way to raising money for her follow-up. You have to hand it to her, in her late Forties she isn't going to wait around for fortune to come a-knockin', she is out there...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ryan Adams, Gold and Demolition (Universal)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ryan Adams, Gold and Demolition (Universal)

With a new album by Ryan Adams due in a month (Ashes and Fire) some might wonder why this guy holds such a powerful place in many people's affections. After all he -- Prince-like -- became so prolific for a while he was impossible to keep up with a pain for record company. Many lost track of him. But the five star Gold from exactly a decade...

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

First released in 1972 and only now available on CD (here expanded with  five extra songs including a 2002 version of his classic Mr Bojangles), this album was one which introduced Texan Walker as part of the left-field non-Nashville country acts of the day alongside Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings. In...

Guy Clark: Songs and Stories (Dualtone)

Guy Clark: Songs and Stories (Dualtone)

Although the smart money would have been against his longevity, here is the road-worn troubadour Guy Clark -- 70 in November 2011 -- working his way through exactly what it says on the box, singing his back-catalogue (LA Freeway, The Randall Knife, The Cape, Homegrown Tomatoes among them) and Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You. Recording...

BOB DYLAN'S THEME TIME RADIO HOUR: Turn your radio on

BOB DYLAN'S THEME TIME RADIO HOUR: Turn your radio on

In the excellent DVD doco The Never Ending Narrative, a legion of rock writing worthies line up to discuss Bob Dylan's remarkable late-career reinvention. Nigel Williamson is both amused and slightly annoyed that not only did Dylan start making some of the best music of his career, but he also took on Williamson's area and proved to be one...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Ryan Adams: Ashes and Fire (Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Ryan Adams: Ashes and Fire (Sony)

Those with a passing interest in Ryan Adams' highly productive career -- which most recently stretched to published books of poetry -- will be understandably bewildered that there is a new album, given he announced his retirement in '09 . . . and subsequently kept releasing albums from his not inconsiderable song vaults. This solo album...

Tags related to troubadours