Eric Andersen: Blue Rain: Live (Appleseed/Elite)

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Eric Andersen: The Other Side of This Life
Eric Andersen: Blue Rain: Live (Appleseed/Elite)

After four decades as a troubadour, Andersen has finally got round to recording a live album -- but he has done it with typically wilfulness: he hooked up with a Norwegian blues band and recorded it in a rock club in Oslo.

But this is no foot-to-the-floor rock-blues session because everyone holds back and the songs seethe with barely repressed passion, disappointment and rage. And Andersen's growling baritone is often neatly offset by the pure and pointillistic guitar work of Morten Omlid.

He also moves to piano for a few songs which gives the set texture.

Anderson started playing in California in the early 60s then moved to New York where his first gig was opening for John Lee Hooker in a six-night stand. He asssimilated from the masters: Howlin' Wolf, Bukka White, Son House and others. But he also knows as much jazz and folk phrasing as the blues, and is a songwriter of great distinction.

He co-wrote You Can't Relive the Past with Lou Reed (it appears here) and some of his songs (Trouble in Paris, Runaway Goin' Gone) have a Springsteen-like narrative quality. And he opens this set -- which has a smart upward trajectory from quiet and dark balladry to high-energy blues -- with a wonderfully knowing treatment of Fred Neil's The Other Side of This Life.

With a forward momentum and great songs, this one keeps you attention right through to that Lou Reed co-write at the end which has a malevolence more befitting Nick Cave.

Andersen waited until he was 64 before recording his first live album.

You might want to adopt more urgency in hearing it.

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