willie nelson

willie nelson on Elsewhere by Graham Reid - Browse our selection of content tagged 'willie nelson'.

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...

JJ Grey and Mofro; Country Ghetto (Southbound) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

JJ Grey and Mofro; Country Ghetto (Southbound) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Of course there is white country soul -- and here is the evidence, a voice from the white trash ghetto which aches like a Southern soul singer. There is a backwoods quality here -- real steamy Georgia funk -- but it is offset by the spirit of Memphis soul, the Allman Brothers, James Brown and the blues. Quite a meltdown and if it isn't...

Nick Lowe; At My Age (Proper) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Nick Lowe; At My Age (Proper) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

To be honest, I consider Nick Lowe's '98 album Dig My Mood so outstanding that anything he does subsequently will pale in the comparison. By the time of that album, the former English pub-rocker in the post-punk era and friend of Elvis Costello had taken a considerable career turn and was now a gorgeous country-soul singer whose songwriting...

Various: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Tipitina's/Shock)

Various: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Tipitina's/Shock)

In the days after Hurricane Katrina it was believed that this great New Orleans r'n'b singer had been washed away. Fortunately he had been rescued although his home, like much of that wonderful city, had suffered extreme damage. The interesting thing about the rumours of his death was the sudden recognition of his talent in the wider...

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...

BETH ROWLEY INTERVIEWED (2008): From Bristol to the Big Time

BETH ROWLEY INTERVIEWED (2008): From Bristol to the Big Time

UK singer-songwriter Beth Rowley is one of those 10-year in the making overnight sensations. Her debut album Little Dreamer has won her wide acclaim -- “the next big thing", said the Independent, “destined for number one” weighed in the Sunday Times -- but because she has worked her way up from small pubs she seems very...

Dr John and the Lower 911: City That Care Forgot (Shock)

Dr John and the Lower 911: City That Care Forgot (Shock)

The good Doctor's voice can be an acquired taste and there is no doubt he lost many loyalists when he went schmaltzy and kinda boring in the late 80s/early 90s. It was almost as if he had run his course when he started doing live albums and standards.Now of course this son of New Orleans has plenty to write about post-Katrina, and this album...

Beth Rowley: Little Dreamer (Universal)

Beth Rowley: Little Dreamer (Universal)

In the wake of the success of Duffy comes this bluesy singer from Bristol who also possesses a touch of French chanteuse and pop belter in her delivery, is courageous enough to open her debut album with a downbeat version of the old standard Nobody's Fault But Mine (which Led Zepp covered), deliver Dylan's I Shall be Released with a reggae...

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...

Shane Nicholson: Familiar Ghosts (Liberation)

Shane Nicholson: Familiar Ghosts (Liberation)

Anyone who heard the exceptional alt.country Rattlin' Bones album by Australians Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson of last year (one of the Best of Elsewhere 2008 albums) -- or better still caught them in concert -- will need no second invitation to this, Nicholson's third solo album. A number of these often brooding and always literate...

BILL CHAMBERS INTERVIEWED (2003): Call of the big country

BILL CHAMBERS INTERVIEWED (2003): Call of the big country

When Bill Chambers tells it, with a smile at the corner of his lips and in his leisurely Australian drawl, it sounds the most natural thing in the world. But it's kind of strange. He's talking about the mid-70s and what he was doing then, having grown up on country music and playing in bands. "I was a bit of a cowboy hippie, long...

Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis: Live From New York City (DVD/Shock)

Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis: Live From New York City (DVD/Shock)

While this beautifully shot concert film might not persuade you that this meeting of minds was as thrilling as the relentlessly theorising Wynton Marsalis makes it out to be, there are considerable pleasures to be had hearing Willie Nelson's deliberately languid vocals with the small and classy jazz group on hand. And harmonica master Mickey...

Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel: Willie and the Wheel (Bismeaux/Southbound)

Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel: Willie and the Wheel (Bismeaux/Southbound)

For a man who describes himself lazy Willie Nelson has been, we might observe charitably, been putting it about a bit lately. The Willie with Wynton Marsalis album didn't make as much sense as they might like to have thought, but this one is right on the money. In many ways it is the perfect and long overdue pairing: Willie's slightly jazzy...

PAUL SIMON; THE SOLO YEARS: The boy out of his bubble

PAUL SIMON; THE SOLO YEARS: The boy out of his bubble

In October ‘93, when Paul Simon took up what amounted to a month-long residency at the Paramount Theatre in New York, it was billed with typical Nineties hyperbole as “The Concert of a Lifetime” At this particular spectacular -- Art Garfunkel, Phoebe Snow, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and other Simon collaborators and friends...

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...

Drive By Truckers: Live from Austin, Tx (New West CD/DVD)

Drive By Truckers: Live from Austin, Tx (New West CD/DVD)

You would have thought live albums might have died out shortly after the arrival of MTV when people could finally see the bands whose albums they were hearing. But no, live albums still come -- although the smart bands now combine a CD with a DVD, as do Drive By Truckers, a longtime Elsewhere favourite whose previous albums (and the recent...

Jesse Harris: Watching the Sky (Inertia)

Jesse Harris: Watching the Sky (Inertia)

The news that Norah Jones has co-written a song with with Ryan Adams for her forthcoming album The Fall (due in November) is interesting: will he move in her direction or she to him? And which her, or which him? Many of the other tracks are Jones' own work (no bad thing) or with longtime partner Jesse Harris who here delivers up a polished,...

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;...

Bill Chambers: Drifting South (Whitewater)

Bill Chambers: Drifting South (Whitewater)

Bill Chambers -- quite apart from being the father of singer-songwriter Kasey and producer Nash -- is one of Australia's great singer-songwriters whose work just seems to be getting deeper and more resonant. He is suitably road-grizzled these days and his work (just a reference point) sits somewhere between Paul Kelly, Kris Kristofferson and...

Norah Jones: The Fall (Blue Note/EMI)

Norah Jones: The Fall (Blue Note/EMI)

The smaller sales on Jones’ two albums  -- Feels Like Home (04) and Not Too Late (07) -- after the extraordinary figures for her 02 debut Come Away With Me (20 million and rising) were no reflection of any diminishing talent. Those follow-ups were subtle and layered outings, but on a casual listen sounded like more aural wallpaper...

Guy Clark: Somedays the Song Writes You (Dualtone)

Guy Clark: Somedays the Song Writes You (Dualtone)

Now in his late 60s -- he turned 68 in November -- this great Texas singer-songwriter is sounding very weak'n'weary in these 10 co-writes and his cover of Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You. And that is its very strength. Clark brings a melancholy reflectiveness or quiet gravitas to these lyrics and whether it be considering the mysteries...

LARRY HENLEY INTERVIEWED (1993): The world beneath his wings

LARRY HENLEY INTERVIEWED (1993): The world beneath his wings

On this slightly hung-over weekday morning Larry Henley doesn’t look the kind of man whose words have touched a generation. He speaks with a quiet, modest and slow-drag Texas accent and seems too self-effacing for someone whose song lyrics have been recited at funerals and marriages, during intimate moments by way of love or apology,...

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...

Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces (Curb)

Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces (Curb)

With this fine country/alt.country singer-songwriter due to play in New Zealand soon, with Kasey Chambers (date and details here) and knowing his albums rarely go reviewed, it is timely to consider his most recent release which came out in the pre-Christmas slew of hits and compilations. Lovett has never been an easy one to pigeon-hole:...

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...

KINKY FRIEDMAN INTERVIEWED (1994): The art of irritation

KINKY FRIEDMAN INTERVIEWED (1994): The art of irritation

You have to admire Kinky Friedman. With very little effort he manages to irritate just about everybody. He did in the early 70s when he fronted his country music band Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, who parlayed broadly satirical political and country songs and willfully provocative anti-feminist rants such as Get Your Biscuits in the...

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...

GUY CLARK INTERVIEWED (1989): Close to the chest and heart

GUY CLARK INTERVIEWED (1989): Close to the chest and heart

In a way it almost doesn’t matter if you don’t know who Guy Clark is -- Bono and the rest of U2 do. Not only do they attend his concerts (and a month ago, when Clark was in Dublin for a television show, they dropped by there too), but the Irish stadium rockers have signed this quiet singer/songwriter from Nashville to a...

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...

Phosphorescent: Here's to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)

Phosphorescent: Here's to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)

The last album by this band -- the vehicle for Matthew Houck -- was their tribute to Willie Nelson, but this time out it is all original material and the energy levels are kicked up, notably on the Band/Black Crowes/E Street opener It's Hard to be Humble (When You're From Alabama). Rolling steel guitars and a country-rock mood propel Nothing...

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...

Tift Merritt: See You on The Moon (Concord)

Tift Merritt: See You on The Moon (Concord)

To be honest, despite very much liking most of Merritt's '02 album Bramble Rose -- and concluding the review, "a name to remember, Tift" -- I lost touch with her augmented alt.country which came with a little sensuality and suggestions of Petty-like country-rock. That said, of course I remembered the name so this came qucikly to...

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,...

JJ Grey and Mofro: Georgia Warhorse (Alligator/Southbound)

JJ Grey and Mofro: Georgia Warhorse (Alligator/Southbound)

Grey and his companions out of Florida have been pulling Southern funk, Memphis soul and dirty blues together for the best part of a decade now and their 07 Country Ghetto album should have gained them a lot of mainstream attention. But it didn't. This one – with guest vocalist Toots (of the Maytals), and hot young blues guitarist...

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...

Various Artists: . . . Featuring Norah Jones (Blue Note)

Various Artists: . . . Featuring Norah Jones (Blue Note)

Those who dismiss Norah Jones as some kind of aural wallpaper clearly aren't listening carefully enough. Her albums have been quietly progressive as they step deftly betwen lounge jazz and alt.country -- and the lady constantly defies expectation. Not the least by putting herself about a bit, in a professional way. This 18 track album...

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...

7 Walkers: 7 Walkers (Response/Southbound)

7 Walkers: 7 Walkers (Response/Southbound)

Singer-guitarist Papa Mali here has a story: the late bluesman John Campbell spotted his talent when Mali (born Malcolm Welbourne in Louisiana) was in his teens; he was given his nickname by reggae figurehead Burning Spear while playing in Jamaica; he brought reggae and Southern funk together with rock'n'roll . . . But he's only one...

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...

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

Having always been a fan of Bob Seger in that classic period in the mid Seventies (especially the Stranger in Town album) it was a real pleasure to shove this disc in the car player and crank it up . . . because by halfway through the first track I was thinking this was the great and largely forgotten Bob accidentally put in a Kid Rock cover....

Amos Lee: Mission Bell (Blue Note)

Amos Lee: Mission Bell (Blue Note)

Singer-songwriter Lee's name has been inextricably linked with that of Norah Jones who heard his debut EP and had him open for her. Signed to her label Blue Note by president Bruce Lundvall (who signed him before the Jones connection), Jones' partner and bassist Lee Alexander produced his debut album. He's firmly in that lineage of crafted...

PAPA MALI INTERVIEWED (2011): The Nawlins spirit walking

PAPA MALI INTERVIEWED (2011): The Nawlins spirit walking

Malcolm Welbourne of the Austin-based band 7 Walkers delivers a cool line in New Orleans funk'n'blues, has Willie Nelson as a guest on the band's self-titled debut album, co-writes with Robert Hunter (lyricist for the Grateful Dead) and the band counts in its ranks George Porter of the Meters on bass. Yet Welbourne – known as Papa...

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...

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...

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones: Here We Go Again (Blue Note)

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones: Here We Go Again (Blue Note)

This cross-generational/cross-genre superstar triumvirate isn't as unusual as it appears on paper: There are two or fewer degrees of separation between the protagonists. Jones has toured and performed with Nelson (here); Willie and Waylon got together for their less-than-thrilling Two Men with the Blues project (CD/DVD); and Jones began life...

The Little Willies: Lou Reed (2005)

The Little Willies: Lou Reed (2005)

The idea of the improbable is always enjoyable. It is the basis of Dada and Surrealism, not to mention a few good dreams and a whole lot of Monty Python-type humour. And so you can guess when this band -- Norah Jones, Lee Alexander, Richard Julian and others -- got together to indulge their love of country and alt.country music by playing...

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Shane Nicholson

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Shane Nicholson

Australian singer-songwriter Shane Nicholson has delivered consistently interesting, but rather too few, albums. Each makes you want another almost immediately because of their lyrical sensiblity and sharp songwriting. Nicholson is also alongside his wife Kasey Chambers on her albums and because she is part of a fine family -- dad Bill a...

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'...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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: Dolly Parton, The Box Set Series

THE BARGAIN BUY: Dolly Parton, The Box Set Series

Songwriters have long recognised Dolly Parton among the greats: she is accomplished at writing sassy songs (Dumb Blonde) heart-tuggers (Put It Off Until Tomorrow) and catchy country-pop (Something Fishy). And those examples are just the opening three in this four CD set, two thirds of the 41 songs being penned by her. Her classic hits are...

Eric Clapton and Friends: The Breeze; An Appreciation of J.J. Cale (Universal)

Eric Clapton and Friends: The Breeze; An Appreciation of J.J. Cale (Universal)

Eric Clapton frequently speaks of himself as a messenger, originally passing on the blues then in the Seventies discovering the music of Bob Marley and J.J. Cale whose songs he covered to great success. Although not a close friend of the late Tulsa-based Cale until they collaborated on the Grammy-winning Road to Escondido in 2006,...

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...

The Wood Brothers: Ways Not To Lose (Blue Note/EMI)

The Wood Brothers: Ways Not To Lose (Blue Note/EMI)

The trio Medeski, Martin & Wood have been one of the most innovative and consistently interesting jazz (and beyond) bands of the past decade or so. But here upright bassist/singer from the band Chris Wood teams up with his singing/guitar playing brother Oliver (a dab hand on slide among other things) for an album of lowkey acoustic charm...

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...

Ray LaMontagne: Till The Sun Turns Black (Sony)

Ray LaMontagne: Till The Sun Turns Black (Sony)

Singer/songwriter LaMontagne is a reclusive type whose previous album Trouble of two years ago was a critical favourite and even managed to sell around a quarter of a million copies. Not bad for an unknown whose music has a deeply personal and cathartic quality, and hardly sounds chipper or media friendly in his tight-lipped interviews....

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