Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Jan-Feb Contents NEIL YOUNG AND BLUENOTE CAFÉ
Though perhaps the mid-to-late ‘80s will not go down in history as Neil
Young’s classic period, he was still doing interesting stuff with interesting
people. This live double album was recorded in ‘87/’88 on the promotional
tour for the This Note’s For You album (remember the ridiculous film clip?).
Of course the set was not recorded at the Bluenote Café. This was the
name Neil had to come up with for the band after he was legally instructed
to stop calling them The Bluenotes. In fact it was recorded at a dozen
different venues around the USA, focusing, not surprisingly, on songs
from This Note’s For You, including the title track (complete with cheesy
singalong), ‘Ten Men Workin’’, ‘Life In The City’ and ‘Married Man’. Interestingly, it also features a live version of
album outtake, ‘Ordinary People’, which wasn’t released until 2007 on Chrome Dreams II.
It’s a document of a particular band and era, with no ‘classic’ Neil Young material included besides a closing
rendition of ‘Tonight’s The Night’. The core of the band is one Young has stuck to for many years, including Rick
Rosas and Ben Keith. Frank Sampedro, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina also feature. I guess if you like Neil Young
with horns, then this one’s for you. Martin Jones
STEVE MARTIN AND EDIE BRICKELL
Who would have thought we’d be here in the noughties reviewing serious
banjo albums made by comedian Steve Martin? Or that he’d be making
albums with New Bohemian Edie Brickell? Or that Brickell would be
married to Paul Simon? But here we are, and here they are back with a
second full collaboration that is pretty impossible to dislike. Even if you’re
not such a fan of Brickell’s sleepy sighs, these songs, and Martin’s deft
playing, frame them in a flattering light. (Plus you get the benefit of Peter
Asher ’s elegant production and arrangements and crack guests like Bela
Fleck, bassist Leland Sklar, and Martin’s band the Steep Canyon Rangers, amongst others).
As Asher surmises, “Steve’s a very good composer and very fluent on the banjo, and he writes these remarkable
little banjo pieces. And Edie doesn’t just write words, she also creates these amazing counter-melodies over
Steve’s banjo melodies.” That says it all. Martin Jones
HEART OF THE RAT RECORDS
singer-songwriter / americana
When Melbourne singer-songwriter Brendan
Welch’s debut LP, The Gleaner, first appeared
in 2009, it heralded the arrival of another
strong songwriter and arranger. It followed
two EPs – The Unbeat and That Ghost, the
former of which scored a bit of triple j play –
but it was the full-length offering that really
showcased Welch’s talent.
Earlier this year, The Gleaner scored a
re-release through the Ballarat-based Heart
Of The Rat Records, on vinyl no less, a little
gem rediscovered and pushed back into the
zeitgeist, destined to rekindle the acclaim it
garnered six years ago.
The record certainly has a country bent to it,
and within that framework is where Welch
mainly works, covering a fair bit of ground.
The lilting ‘Think I’d Always Thought (I’d Fall
In Love With You)’ begins proceedings, his
voice strong, which sets the scene for the rest
of the album.
Tracks like ‘With A Steady Hand’ up the
tempo, more of an outlaw country sort of
thing, the momentum slowing with ‘Run
While You Still Can’, its tinkling ivories
recalling both some old saloon somewhere,
as well as strains of the blues, before Welch’s
voice comes in and swings it gently back
‘If Only I Could Know You Then’ showcases
some tasty guitar, lazy and hard-driving, and
for me, it’s these moments that stand tall; that
almost stoner-rock style of country music.
Welch’s voice on this particular track brings
to mind a clearer-voiced Neil Young.
Overall, this is a record which should
have received even more attention than
it did upon initial release. Going back to
it, particularly on vinyl, has been almost a
revelation – this is a great album, it stands
tall as an example of not only what Welch is
capable of, but of the world-class Americana
that’s been coming out of Melbourne for
years now. To my mind then, Welch should
be thinking very much about a follow-up.
More of this sort of thing certainly would not
go astray. Samuel J. Fell
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