CD Review – The Coal Porters “Find The One”
Sid Griffin, the leader of The Coal Porters, has written several books that have been published including one on Gram Parsons as well as co-writing the screenplay for the Parson’s documentary: “Fallen Angel.” He is also an expert on The Byrds & The Burritos Bros. bands. But Sid is most well known for leading the 1980’s Alt Country band The Long Ryders…a pioneering group at least 20 years ahead of their time coming out of L.A.
The Coal Porter album Find The One starts with the catchy and upbeat “Barefoot On The Courthouse Lawn.” Sid comments on a video: “After 40 or 45, you have to lay down the electric guitar.” (I happen to agree with Sid here). Maybe Sid just feels more comfortable now on mandolin? His vocals certainly still sound pretty much the same as those far off days of Rock & Roll glory! Yes, he still has that special touch even on mandolin.
Carley Frey, sounds sweet and pleasant on the second cut: “Never Right His Wrong.” She plays fiddle in the band and her voice has a nice presence to it. The album is produced by legend John Wood who also produced Nick Drake & Beth Orton. A guest musician of some note is Richard Thompson who played AC guitar on “Hush U Babe/Burnham Thorpe.” No electric guitars or amps allowed!
My favorite cut on the album is an unusual choice for a bluegrass group…David Bowie’s “Heroes.” But in their “Alt. Bluegrass” way they really pulled it off nicely though a bit toned down. Nice vocals by various members of the group and some tasteful harp by Sid. And speaking of Sid, my favorite original here is: “The Gospel Shore” written by Sid with shades of The Long Ryders in it, but without drums. The dog house bass is featured here instead.
“The Betsey Trotwood” is a kind of laid back bluegrass instrumental that really starts smoking when Carly cranks up her fiddle! “You Only Miss Her When She’s Gone”, reminds me of an old Kingston Trio barn burner!
The album comes complete with a former BBC announcer who introduced The Beatles on Sid’s tune: “Ask Me Again.”
Some of the other players include: John Breese on banjo, Neil Robert herd on guitar and dobro, Tali Trow on bass, Andrew Stafford also on bass and Jules Bushell on musical saw. All of the players in The Coal Porters are very competent and clean.
The album/CD ends with The Stone’s “Paint It Black” which did not thrill me but features sitar by Robert Elliott.
If you’re up for some “Alt. Bluegrass”, if a bit on the slick side, you might want to check this CD out.