Better Late Than Never.....Dirty Roots Radio's Best Albums of 2012

BEST OF THE BEST

1. Bob Dylan – Tempest

The toughest part of this list was determining whether the top spot would be occupied by Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball”, my emotional favorite of the year, or Dylan’s “Tempest”, by far my choice for “best of the year”.

This album has already been dissected enough and if you care about Dylan you’ve heard it all; it’s dark, bloody, brooding, and moody.  It’s also brilliant.  Another case for the rest of us mere mortals to look at it, scratch our heads in wonder, and say, “How does he do this?  What does it mean?”  Try as the Bob-ologists might, no one will ever figure out just what it means.  Dylan’s simply on a different plane.  True, rumors have abounded lately that he’s stolen virtually everything he’s ever “created” from other sources.  True, he’s intentionally masked himself in myth from day one.  While I can’t imagine the pain of having Dylan rip you off, the former charge doesn’t much matter to me, personally.  The second charge just makes the experience all the more wonderful.

Dylan ain’t like you and me.  Just enjoy it.  While he’s been on an incredible creative streak since 1997’s “Time Out of Mind”, this is the most impressive of the bunch to these ears.

2. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

During the San Creek massacre of 1864 the United States Army laid waste to an entire village of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. As the battle began, Chief Black Kettle looked with confidence at the huge American flag that flew over his tipi.  It was one of his most prized possessions; a flag that was given to him by US officials who told him that no one who stood under the stars and stripes would ever be fired upon by American forces. When the American flag was ignored, and then a white flag was also ignored, a native American named White Antelope ran toward the Army officials saying, “stop…stop”, assuming that when they heard his words, they would notice the flags and realize their error.  They didn’t.  Col. John Chivington’s troops cut White Antelope down with the rest of the men, women, children, and aged in the village.  As he approached the Army and as he died, White Antelope held in his hand a peace medal that had been given to him by government officials in Washington DC the previous year.

Bruce Springsteen sings of a modern version of that America on “Wrecking Ball”.  From the sarcastic promises of “We Take Care of Our Own”, to the party going strong on Banker’s Hill in “Shackled and Drawn”, the Boss vents his frustrations, pledges to carry on in “Jack of All Trades”, then defiantly tells the fat cats to “bring on your wrecking ball” in the title track.  That pledge to carry on and the defiance that accompanies it culminate in ultimate hope in “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “We are Alive” to round out the album.

This is the album I’ve gone back to more than any other all year.  It was a tough call to give Dylan the top slot over this one.

Read my full “Wrecking Ball” album review here

3. Dr. John – Locked Down

Like (I assume) many folks, my only real exposure to Dr. John has been his completely over-worked radio hit, “In the Right Place”.  I was familiar with who he was, with his voodoo gangster look, and his New Orleans jive lingo.  I assumed his status as a major figure in New Orleans was a “New Orleans thing”; an honorary title bestowed on a once active and vital figure.  I accepted that he’d probably once done some really great work, but never set about digging past the “In the Right Place” stuff I’d heard.

What a mistake on my part.

“Locked Down” is a funky, gritty swamp stew.  It caused me to go ahead and dig back into Dr. John’s back catalog.  While I admit I haven’t gotten very far, I have fallen head over heels in love with his debut album, “Gris Gris” – which wouldn’t have been possible if not for “Locked Down”.

Thanks to Dan Auerbach, of the Black Keys, for getting my attention with this album.  And thanks to Dr. John for being a completely unique and, contrary to my previous assumption, a completely deserving legend.

4. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas

A few years back Leonard Cohen realized that one of his closest business associates had completely robbed him of his entire nest egg.  To generate some income to take him into his golden years, Cohen launched a massive world tour; no mean feat for a man in his 70s who’s touring and recording output had been sporadic (albeit genius) at best.  While I’m sorry for the reason behind the need to tour, I’m beyond thankful and blessed that he did it.  I was finally able to see the legend live in concert and to the surprise of everyone – including Cohen himself – he enjoyed the experience so much, he found his creative juices flowing and his first album in several years, “Old Ideas”, came quickly.

These “Old Ideas” sound familiar and yet completely new. The instrumentation is minimal and, maybe for the first time, not over or under-produced. It’s still dark, but – at least to my ears – there’s more joy here than we usually find from Cohen.  He’s reinvigorated and almost playful at times.

This is a fine work from a true “Tower of Song”.

Read my full album review of Leonard Cohen’s “Old Ideas” here

5. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

There’s not much to be said here, other than The Horse is back!!!  Anytime Neil Young gets together with his old friends, it’s magic – even if it’s not the best record ever.  In this case, it’s doubly great because this IS a great record.  Great songs, great jams, great lyrics (“Poetry rollin’ off his tongue like Hank Williams chewin’ bubble gum” has become an all-time favorite line).  Quite the return to form.  The world’s a better place for the fact that Neil Young and Crazy Horse are still jamming.  Every time I hear them I envision huge primordial beasts lumbering across the earth, laying beautiful waste to everything in their path.  Conveniently on this album, they wrote a song about doing just that.

6. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Americana

While the previous entries on this list find legendary artists mining new creative ground, Neil Young’s “Americana” sends him the other way.  Back, almost, to the beginning.  When I heard Neil was going to record an album of American folk standards, I wasn’t surprised.  No one who’s followed his career for very long is surprised by anything Neil Young does.  I didn’t expect much from it.  Neil is one of those artists that you give a free pass to when they release an album that doesn’t land with you…or land with anyone, a fate that several of his albums seem to have done.

But then I heard he’d brought Crazy Horse back into the studio with him.  THEN I got excited.  A mediocre Neil Young is an easily forgivable offense.  A great Neil Young work is a beautiful thing to be treasured.  ANY Neil Young & Crazy Horse album is something special.

Is this as good as “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” or “Rust Never Sleeps”?  Of course not.  But it’s not really about measuring up to their creative peak.  It’s about them getting together, turning it up LOUD and jamming.

And they do that here.  Some tracks work better than others.  I think I’m one of the few who really enjoy listening to “Oh Susanna”.  “God Save the Queen” is completely listenable.  “Clementine” is maybe my favorite on the album; a song my Grandpa used to sing while he picked his guitar in his recliner when I was a kid; a song that, in the hands of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, revealed the depth and darkness of the lyrics, whereas my Grandpa’s rendition sounded like a fun folk song.

“Tom Dula” does become grating and, as Rolling Stone Magazine critiqued, as good as they are, this band just doesn’t have the soulful chops to pull off the rock and roll classic “Get a Job” (which feels really out of place on this album of traditional American music anyway).

Even when it’s not their greatest work, listening to the brutal creations of Neil Young and the mighty Crazy Horse just hurts so good.

7. ZZ Ward – Til the Casket Drops

8. Gary Clark, Jr. – Black and Blu

I chose to review these two together because I chose them for the same reason: their vision.  These are the only two “new-ish” artists on the list.  Gary Clark, Jr. has released a few albums already, most notably his 2011 EP.  ZZ Ward released a mix tape in February 2012, followed by an EP in May, and her full-length debut in October.

Gary Clark, Jr. made quite a bit of noise with his EP and I’ve ready many mixed reviews of “Blak and Blu”, most claiming it didn’t live up to the EP’s hype.  To me, that’s an exercise in missing the point.

Both Ward and Clark bring in many different – and often disparate – elements.  There’s the obvious rock, funk, and blues in each release.  Most notably there’s also a lot of New Jack Swing in each.  Ward also makes use of hip-hop – not my favorite aspect of her album, by far, but one that’s tolerable given that unique vision I pointed out previously.

As a blues lover, I spend a lot of time pondering what’s going to happen to the genre in the coming years.  If albums like these serve the function of getting younger audiences to begin digging back into the blues (both Clark and Ward have made the late-night TV rounds lately), that’s a tremendous accomplishment.  I’m also not a blues (or any other kind of) purist, so if this is an indication of what the future holds for the blues, I’m guardedly optimistic.

9. Dwight Yoakam – 3 Pears

When Dwight Yoakam released “Gone” in 1995, he was quickly established as one of my favorite artists.  I enjoyed digging back through his catalog and learning of his early years as part of the same Los Angeles scene that fostered country/punk legends like The Blasters, Los Lobos, and X.

After “Gone”, though, Yoakam’s releases became a little more uneven.  I enjoy most of his acting career, but when he put out his own movie “South of Heaven, West of Hell”, I began to fear he’d lost his way.  When he “divorced” his longtime collaborator, producer, and guitarist Pete Anderson, I lost a lot more hope.  A few more mediocre albums were followed by a long silence.

Earlier this year, I read Don McLeese’s biography of Yoakam, “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere”, and was privileged to interview the author.  During our conversation, McLeese said Yoakam had a lot of new material in the bag and had recently signed a new contract with his former home, Warner Brothers Records (those last few mediocre albums were released on smaller independent labels that often didn’t have the budget or muscle to properly work with an artist as unique as Yoakam).  McLeese said he was excited about the new stuff and that the world may well be surprised.

And boy howdy, was I.  “3 Pears” is a true return to form for Yoakam.  The Bakersfield twang is there, along with all of his wide variety of unique influences and elements of what makes Dwight Yoakam Dwight Yoakam.  Most of all that laser-focused off-the-wall singular vision is there.  That’s what makes it truly work.  Welcome back, Dwight.

Check out my interview with Don McLeese, author of “Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” here

10. Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg – Painkillers

While his “main” band, Black Diamond Heavies, is on a break, the good Reverend James Leg is making the most of his time.  His solo debut, “Solitary Pleasures” was one of my favorite albums of 2011.  This time around, he’s recording with Alive/Natural Sound label mates Left Lane Cruiser.  It’s similar enough to what Leg is already known for to fit in his wheelhouse, but it adds a new enough touch to make it interesting.  Special guest Harmonica Shah (obviously on harp) is a nice touch, too.

The crew makes their way through raw, loud-ass covers of blues standards by folks like John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson and throw in some classic rock covers by Seger, the Stones, Hendrix, and Zeppelin for good measure.

This is good medicine right here.  Guaranteed to cure what ails you.  Take two of these and call me in the morning.

BEST OF THE REST

Marty Stuart – Nashville, Vol. 1: Tear the Woodpile Down

Following his childhood years as a sideman to legends such as Earl Scruggs and Johnny Cash and his 1980’s “hillbilly rock” phase, Marty Stuart upped his game with his album, “The Pilgrim”.  Cash told Stuart that most artists are lucky to have an album like that once in their career.  Rather than resting in that satisfaction, this country music renaissance man entered a new phase of his career; one that has seen him on an undeniable creative streak for about ten years now.

For his seventh proper album with his incredibly talented – and incredibly cool – backing group, the Fabulous Superlatives, Stuart goes back to his roots; straight up country music.  Stuart was recently quoted as saying, “Today, the most outlaw thing you can possibly do in Nashville, Tennessee is play country music”.  Damn right.

This is a glorious honky-tonk record, featuring mostly original songs by Stuart.  He’s joined by country music royalty Buck Trent, Hank Williams III, and Lorrie Carter Bennett, of the Carter Family.  

This is the real deal.  It’s also the kind of creative resurgence that’s usually seen in an artist in their later years (think Johnny Cash or Charlie Louvin).  Thank goodness Stuart started when he was so young….He’s still a fairly young guy and he’s firing on all cylinders.  Hopefully we’ll have a lot more years of this great stuff coming from Marty Stuart.

Willie Nelson – Heroes

At this point, a new record from Willie Nelson almost always elicits the same two-point response:

          1.  It’s not great.
          2.  Even though it doesn’t compare to what he released during his creative peak, it’s still Willie.  And Willie at his absolute worst is infinitely better than so much of what passes as music these days.

This album is a family affair, with Willie’s sons Lukas appearing on almost every track.  His son, Micah, appears on one.  Other guests include Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Billy Joe Shaver, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, and Snoop Dogg.

Ultimately, this most likely won’t end up being anyone’s favorite Willie Nelson record, it won’t dent the country charts, and it won’t sell a million copies.  There are hits and misses here.  In my opinion the album would have benefited from fewer duets.  But hearing Willie sing with his old pals Merle, Kris, and Billy Joe will always be special.

Willie Nelson won’t be here forever and he’s one of the last of his kind.  His purpose is to make music.  And he’s still making new stuff.  For us.  Enjoy his new stuff while it’s here.

Read my complete review of Willie Nelson’s “Heroes” here

Andre Williams – Hoods & Shades / Nightclub / Night & Day / Life

        

2012 was the year of Andre Williams for me.  I’ve been marginally aware of Andre for as long as he’s been associated with Bloodshot Records.  And while I always acknowledged his albums with them as “good”, I didn’t give them enough of a try for them to really click. I guess I just wasn’t ready.

Then came his first release of the year, “Hoods & Shades”; I loved it.  Rather than raucous party music, this was a stripped down, mostly acoustic album.   For whatever reason – even now that I’ve dug up and love those raunchy, wild albums – this was the one that flipped the switch for me.  It’s a great showcase of Andre’s writing and style.

I enjoyed the album and dug back into Andre’s story a bit.  He wrote “Shake a Tail Feather”, which was a hit for Ike & Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and a whole bunch of other folks.  He worked with Motown Records several different times.  He’s lived a tumultuous life, full of struggle, addiction, and homelessness.

I saw him in concert this spring in St. Louis and was absolutely knocked out by the songs as well as his energy for a 77 year old.

I was also knocked out by his backing band, the Goldstars.  At the concert, I learned he’d recorded an EP with the Goldstars called “Nightclub”.  I picked that one up and loved it, too.  It leaned more heavily toward Andre’s wild party records.  But the rough edges were a bit more refined and the Goldstars, one of the best garage bands I’ve heard, provided a perfect, unique backdrop for him.

The third release this year from Andre was “Night and Day” was recorded with the prolific alt.country group The Sadies, produced by Jon Spencer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.  To wrap up the year, Andre released “Life” on the Alive/Natural Sound Records, in the fall.  Both of these albums are gritty and raunchy ghetto tales told with a grind in the hip and a grin on the face.

Read my May 2012 interview with Andre Williams here

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Daddy Long Legs – Evil Eye On You
Waylon Jennings – Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Last Recordings
Ray Wylie Hubbard – The Grifter’s Hymnal
Green Day – Uno
The Heavy – The Glorious Dead
Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream
Bettye Lavette – Thankful N’ Thoughtful
Bob Mould – Silver Age
John the Conqueror (self-titled)
Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
Eric Burden & the Greenhornes (self-titled)
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat and Bone
Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth
Wanda Jackson – Unfinished Business

BEST OF ST. LOUIS

As I’ll indicate a few times from this point on, there are several albums that I came to AFTER I’d put together the Top Ten list above.  Some of these releases could/would have been included.  In the case of some of them, they happened to be from St. Louis-based artists.  While I’m from a small, rural town in Illinois, it’s considered part of the “official” St. Louis Metro Area and St. Louis is the nearest “big” city where we hicks in the sticks can find some culture and what-have-you.  So, to celebrate the culture of my adopted stompin’ grounds, I added this “Best of St. Louis” section…

The Hooten Hallers – Greetings from Welp City

If I’d gotten hip to this album earlier, it definitely would have been included toward the top of my year-end Top Ten list.  As it happened, I didn’t get to hear this one until after I’d already compiled that list.  I first saw the Hooten Hallers as an opening act for T-Model Ford, then later performing in front of Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis as part of the Record Store Day festivities.  I loved them live and appreciated their music, but the only album I had from them, “The Battle Between Good and Evil” from a few years back, didn’t find its way into my CD player very often.

This album – released by the FANTASTIC little label Big Muddy Records – is the sound of a diamond in the rough finding its groove, maturing as both songwriters and performers, and clicking on all cylinders.  Great stuff delivered in a style that is all their own.

Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost – Born There

Another Big Muddy Records release…

Bob Reuter is the renaissance man of St. Louis’s “alternative/underground/what-the-hell-ever” scene.  I’m sure he’d hate that categorization – at least the use of “alternative/underground” and all that…but I’m trying to paint the picture here that he ain’t part of the mainstream culture.  He’s an author (look for his “Tales of a Talking Dog” on my “Best Books of 2012” list), a photographer, storyteller, singer/songwriter, and radio show host.

I won’t be able to top Bob’s own description of his music, so I’ll steal his words here (again…from his book “Tales of a Talking Dog”): “Sunshine and fresh air have nothing to do with the music I play.  Rock and roll is meant to involve loud volumes in small sweaty rooms.  It is sex, anger, joy, and pain in repetition, mixed with a certain amount of darkness and mystery. ..The music we make involves a certain amount of communal sharing, the release of demons, the ritualistic sacrificing of widely-held cultural beliefs, virginal maidens, and televisionary deceits.”  (Now go read the book)

His band Alley Ghost fits him to a T – think of young blues-punks playing raw like early electric Muddy Waters.  Except, ya know…twisted around to fit the above description.  Bob’s also been voted “Best Songwriter in St. Louis” a few times in the local rag, the Riverfront Times.

Great storytelling, delivered from the heart and the gut, never the head.  Just like it’s supposed to be.

Rough Shop – Under the South Side Bridge
Ransom Note – It’s You!
Edgefield C. Johnston – Northside Refugees

These are all fairly new bands/artists to me.  They’re definitely worthy of inclusion here; I only wish I were prepared to say more about each of them.  I’ll be featuring these guys more on my Dirty Roots Radio Show going forward, so keep an ear out.

Rough Shop continues a tradition that you would expect to hear from the city that birthed Uncle Tupelo and so much of the early alt.country/No Depression scene, a little further down the line and more grown up.  Great songwriting and well-crafted tunes.  A super-solid effort that’s truly a joy to listen to.

I saw Ransom Note open for Andre Williams this spring and fell in love…with their overly-animated lead singer, with their unabashed embrace of what I can only (very reluctantly) refer to as soulful easy listening, and with the fact that they are all middle-aged folks who are doing it all without a trace of irony.  You’ll hear traces of Steely Dan here and a little Hall & Oates.  The Riverfront Times recently named Ransom Note as part of “St. Louis’ Ass-Shaking Groove Revival”.  They bringin’ sexy back, ya’ll.

Edgefield C. Johnston is the newest of the new (to me) in this section of the list.  Edgefield recently moved back to the St. Louis area and recorded “Northside Refugees”, a hella-unique album with intensely personal, heavy lyrics, a wildly original vocal delivery, abrupt tempo changes, and music that incorporates elements of garage rock, primal/early rock, and whatever else fits the bill.  One of my favorite new discoveries this year!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sleepy Kitty – Don’t You Start

I’d give these fine folks more than an honorable mention, but this is merely a single rather than a full album, which this list is geared for.  But this is a taste of what’s sure to be another great album, coming in 2013 (Their 2011 debut is well worth checking out) from this unique group (a pair of graphic designer transplants from Chicago to St. Louis sharing a domestic partnership as well as a band).

BEST SOUNDTRACKS

Django Unchained Soundtrack

The biggest non-musical influence on my Dirty Roots Radio Show is Quentin Tarantino.  I don’t know how to explain it much further than that, but if you listen to the show, hopefully you know what I mean.  It’s got something to do with disregard to standard conventions and creating something new and unique by going back and picking and choosing from past influences.

Tarantino soundtracks are masterpieces to my ears.  Much has been made about a comment he made early in his career that he begins his movies by assembling the soundtrack and then writes the movie around that.  His first six soundtracks/movies (Reservoir Dogs through Death Proof) seem to potentially fit that bill, but he changed gears with the last two flicks (Inglorious Basters & Django Unchained), having to take a more specific historical approach.  The soundtrack to Inglorious Bastards is my least favorite of his work, but that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t like it.  With the exception of a perfectly inserted yet still sticking out like a sore thumb David Bowie track, that album focused mostly on instrumental music from (or at least that sounded like it fit with) the WWII period.

The Django Unchained Soundtrack is more focused, like the Inglorious Basterds one was before it, but it brings in more of the “all across the board” vibe of his previous soundtracks.  Here, modern artists like Rick Ross, John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and Tupac bump up against James Brown and a whole mess of awesome Spaghetti Western instrumentals.  Lots of folks have commented that this is the first time Tarantino has commissioned new music for a soundtrack, but he did it with a few tracks/artists on the Kill Bill soundtracks, way before this.  It’s not his best, but it works because it’s Tarantino.  And that’s enough.

The Man with the Iron Fists Soundtrack

This movie took a lot of flak as being a Tarantino knock-off and I suppose the folks who said that would say the same about the soundtrack.  It’s not exactly “all over the place”, but like Tarantino’s soundtracks do, it incorporates a wide variety of music; in this case old instrumentals, world music, modern hip hop, and rock.

I loved this flick.  While it definitely wasn’t a “good” movie…it sure as hell was a FUN one.  And to me, in this troubled world we live in, fun movies that help us escape for a bit are among the best things we can hope for.  For my unique tastes, those kinds of movies don’t come along very often, so I devour them when they do.

This movie – and the soundtrack – didn’t so much “ape” Tarantino to me, as they took an example from his style.  These works – again, talking about both the movie and the soundtrack – are the RZA’s unique vision.  He uses Tarantino’s example of looking back at past influences – mostly in this case, old Kung Fu movies – and making something new out of them.

Lawless Soundtrack

Another killer combination of old and new.  Nick Cave and his partner Warren Ellis have done the music for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, “The Proposition”, and “The Road” – all widely praised works.  As with “The Proposition”, Cave both worked on the music of “Lawless” as well as handling the screenwriting.  The combination of doing both results in soundtracks that have a special connection to the mood of the film.

This album features incredible song choices – most notably the Velvet Undergrounds “White Light/ White Heat”, transformed here to fit moonshine more than heroin, and killer blues from the great Captain Beefheart – and brilliant artist choices.  Mark Lannegan’s soulful growl fits the mood, the always-angelic Emmylou Harris provides a much-welcomed sense of haunted hope and redemption, and Ralph Stanley lends the air of authentic mountain ambiance.

BEST REISSUES/COMPILATIONS

Daddy Rockin’ Strong: A Tribute to Nolan Strong & the Diablos

Another one that had I stumbled onto it earlier would have found a spot towards the top of the “official” Top Ten list I assembled.  Quite simply, a buncha killer artists with ties to the mighty, mighty Norton Records label, doing some inspired covers of doo-wop classics from the legendary Fortune Records artist Nolan Strong and his Diablos.

Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros – The Hellcat Years

I’m not a fan of the glut of remastered versions of albums that have been released en mass over recent years, featuring tons of unreleased tracks, studio oddities, live tracks, etc.  I generally find they’re simply too much to digest and often don’t add enough to the artists legacy to mess with.  However, there are a select few artists who I’d welcome new/unreleased/whatever material from, even if it was a recording of them sitting at a table in the recording studio talking about what to have for lunch.  Chief at the top of that list is Joe Strummer – and while there have been various Clash treasures unearthed over the years, I’m more interested in hearing any and everything possible from his Mescaleros (the officially released Clash stuff is perfect enough for me, but Joe didn’t have near enough time with the Mescaleros).

To mark the tenth anniversary of Joe’s sudden, untimely, and unexpected passing, Epitaph Records released a digital “box set” containing the three albums he recorded with the Mescaleros, plus a ton of outtakes as well as the legendary concert he performed shortly before his death to benefit London firefighters where he staged an unplanned reunion with his Clash bandmate Mick Jones (the first time the two performed onstage together since their split).

Not much else to be said, really.  Joe is “Our Patron Saint” at the Dirty Roots Radio Show.  It’s Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, so you know it’s going to be good.  Joe’s love of music is palpable, making the live tracks a warmhearted celebration.  Get it and feel good.

The Beat from Badsville: Trash Classics from Lux and Ivy’s Vinyl Mountain, Vol. 1

One of my favorite aspects of listening to music is what I call “going back”.  You find an artist you love, you find out what influenced them, and you dig into it.  Sometimes it’s a “one-step” process.  At its best, you can go back several generations.

One of the best – and easiest – artists to do this with is The Cramps.  They were influenced by such a wide variety of sounds, artists, music, even movies.  This compilation from Germany provides listeners a glimpse at the music that influenced the late, great Lux Interior and his partner/muse Poison Ivy Rorschach, in their beautifully weird and wild music career.

It says this is "Volume 1", which would tend to indicate that there's more to come.  Let's hope.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Country Funk 1969-1975
Never to Be Forgotten: The Flip Side of Stax
Wolfe City Madness: Twisted Primitive Bop from Wolf-Tex Records
Wendy Rene – After Laughter Comes Tears

---

Ryan Mifflin is the host of Dirty Roots Radio, a "Quentin Tarantino-ization of a spaghetti western style old-school record show" featuring renegade country, vintage gospel, raw blues, greasy soul, punk, and funk.

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at www.wgrn.net.

JOIN THE DIRTY ROOTS RADIO FACEBOOK PAGE

FOLLOW DIRTY ROOTS RADIO ON TWITTER

Views: 2162

Comment by Hal Bogerd on January 17, 2013 at 11:37am

Yeah, I do see your point but would anyone give "Tempest" or "WreckingBall" as an introduction disc?

No. They are mainly of interest to historical long-term fans and those are the best-of-lists those discs populate.

Comment by Jeffrey M Fields on January 17, 2013 at 11:41am

I gotcha. I think Duquesne Whistle is an excellent introduction to latter-day Dylan, but not Tempest as a whole.

Comment by Paul Wilner on January 17, 2013 at 12:30pm

I'm with you, Hal. I'm a Dylan addict, but found Tempest pretty thin gruel, honestly, and can't imagine too many of the young uns turning in to hear his most recent croakings. 

Meanwhile, for another opinion on all this, Bob Christgau, the self-styled "dean of American rock critics'' lists Neil's "Americana'' as his numero uno pick. (He also likes Loudon, Todd Snider and Wrecking Ball).  You can check out his ruminations, which  include some potshots at what he sees as folkie purism, here (warning - it takes him a while to get around to Neil. 

http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Rock-Roll/May-the-Consensus-H...

Comment by Jack on January 17, 2013 at 12:52pm

Being slightly behind the times, I hope that Joe Strummer Hellcat collection comes out on CD.  I have Global A Go Go and Streecore on CD.  The former is a very good if uneven record with some strong moments, and the latter is one of my favorite rock n roll records of all.  Haven't heard their debut nor the previously unreleased and live stuff in the collection, and would sure love to.  Maybe this is where I break the mp3 ice.  My feeling is that given more time, the Mescaleros would have become as prominent part of Joe's legacy as were the Clash, or nearly so.  Great stuff.

Comment by Jack on January 17, 2013 at 12:59pm

Reading the various comments about Bruce Springsteen in this discussion as well as elsewhere has got me wondering if Bruce has passed that fine line between maintaining creativity and running on the momentum of his peak years?  REM ran out of consistently good ideas probably 20 years before they called it a day.  Has Bruce?  Am asking because I was never a huge fan and I haven't listened to his records in recent years other than the Seeger Sessions, which I enjoyed a lot, so I'm not in any position to have an opinion.  Many comments give me a hunch though.

Comment by Dirty Roots Radio on January 17, 2013 at 1:18pm

Jack - The Strummer albums with the Mescaleros were all reissued shortly after this digital "box set" came out.  SOME of the bonus tracks were included with those remastered reissues, but not all.  I think most of the B-sides are included - the biggest thing missing on the CD version is the full Acton Concert. 

The debut album by Joe & the Mescaleros was my least favorite when I first got into them, but it's become one of my favorites over the years.  I wish they had more time together; as you said, they were figuring out so much and showed such great potential.  That was part of the beauty of them - it was like we were watching him re-discover music without so much of the shadow of the Clash.  I don't usually use this cliche, but I really think they had a lot more to do/give.

Comment by Jack on January 17, 2013 at 2:48pm

Ryan, glad you replied with mention of the CD, going to order a copy. I think we're right, I think the Mescaleros could have continued in compelling fashion.  Joe was what, about 60 when he died? It was evident he was still fresh, adventurous and surrounded by guys similarly inclined. 

Your Best of St. Louis selections prompted fond memories of the three years my wife and lived there, '97-00.  Is the band One Fell Swoop still at it?  Saw them a number of times at Off Broadway and still play their record Look Out once in a while, one tune in particular I loved, Gas & Food.  Doubt they ever received airplay aside from KDHX but they were a fine band back then. Is Off Broadway still the coolest club in town?  I hope so.  My wife and I looked into buying it from the father/son owners (Cammaratta's?) around '98 but decided not to, which in some ways I regret. But they ran a cool club and it was one of my favorite spots in town.

Comment by Dirty Roots Radio on January 17, 2013 at 3:21pm

Off Broadway is THE concert club, man.  Such an awesome place.  The "new-ish" owners have done some super cool stuff there.  I'm not familiar with One Fell Swoop, so I'm guessing they're no more.  

Comment by Keith Harrison on January 17, 2013 at 7:19pm

Nice list. The Dr. John record really blew me away. I'm a big fan of Ray Wylie Hubbard's Grifter's Hymnal as well.

Comment by Dirty Roots Radio on January 17, 2013 at 7:43pm

Thanks Keith!  I'm with you on Dr. John.  Did you see Ray Wylie Hubbard on Letterman the other day?  

Comment

You need to be a member of No Depression Americana and Roots Music to add comments!

Join No Depression Americana and Roots Music

Sponsors



If you enjoy this site please consider helping us with a small donation!

Don't like PayPal? Mail a check to: No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


When you shop at Amazon please enter through this search box and No Depression receives a referral fee

Notes

FAQ

Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.