When Was The Last Time You Played This Album?

Americana

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Déjà Vu”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#158 in the Series) Is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Déjà Vu.

I was just sharing the story on Facebook about remembering buying Déjà Vu back in 1970.  I purchased it at the famous Chicagoland record chain called Hegewisch Records.  I was spending the summer at a cousin’s in Calumet City. We road our bikes to Hegewisch  and quickly we were in the store.  I plopped down my $3.49 and we were off.  All their LPs were $3.49 back then.  I still remember the sticker on the shrink wrap!   On the way back I wiped out on the bike and the album went flying.  Fear not, it was OK.  I still remember the fear as that brown square cover hit the ground, hard.

Déjà vu was the first album by CSNY, however, it was not their first recording.  That was the single ‘Ohio’ recorded a little earlier.  Ohio never did appear on an album before it appeared on the greatest hits package called So Far.

Adding Neil Young to a band with Steven Stills was not a huge stretch since they had played together for years in The Buffalo Springfield.  In fact, the opening number Stills’ Carry On contains lyrics from The Buffalo Springfield’s song, Question.

Teach Your Children features a fine pedal steel part by Jerry Garcia.

Almost Cut My Hair is David Crosby’s first addition to the disc.  I remember discussing this album when I was a freshman in high school. I told my friend that I didn’t like this song all that much. I distinctly remember him saying ‘If you don’t like that song, then you don’t like rock and roll.’  I think he was wrong.

Neil Young joins with his first solo writing credit on Déjà vu with his classic Helpless.

Side one ends with the Joni Mitchell penned classic, Woodstock.

We open side two with the title cut written by David Crosby, But then again, haven’t we all been here before? Listen for John Sebastian on harp.

Graham Nash makes his first lead vocal appearance with Our House. A song that would remain in his, and their live shows for years.

4 + 20 was always one of my favorite Steven Stills songs.

Country Girl (Young) and Everybody I Love You (Stills, Young) end our journey.

As the front cover told us Greg Reeves, bass and Dallas Taylor drums filled out the band.  This would be the highlights of both of their careers.

Déjà vu was a #1 album on the Billboard Album Chart.

Woodstock peaked at #11 on the Billboard Singles Chart

Teach Your Children hit up to #16 and while Out House made it up to #30.

Here’s a live Carry On from ’74. It’s in two parts. It’s followed by Teach Your Children, 4 + 20 and Deja Vu.


The Notorious Cherry Bombs “The Notorious Cherry Bombs”

Today’s Cool Album of the day (#144 in the Series) is the self titled album by, The Notorious Cherry Bombs.

OK, who knows who these guys are?   I’ll explain.

Rodney Crowell was an original member of EmmyLou Harris’ Hot Band in the 70s.  Gaining notoriety there, he decided to act on a solo career and began forming his own band.  It wasn’t known at the time, but he put together of band of players that would become some of the most well known players (with in the industry, not really house hold names except for one) in country, country rock and even rock in roll.

Vince Gill was brought in play just about every string instrument. Mandolin, guitar, electric guitar, violin, banjo, dobro and on and on.

Hank DeVito would play on everyone’s record and write a ton of hits.

Richard Bennett would play guitar in Mark Kopfler’s band for years. He still does.

Emory Gordy, Jr. and Glen Hardin filled out the lineup.

After 30 years, Rodney decided to ‘Put The Band Back Together!’  This album was the result.

It had a  couple great rock and roll tracks included Let it Roll, Let it Ride and Sweet Little Lisa.

Sweet Little Lisa has been covered by everyone including Albert Lee and Dave Edmunds.

There are a few superb ballads such as Making Memories of Us and Heart of a Jealous Man.

One song however was the one that got the airplay.  How this wasn’t a HUGE country hit I’ll never know.  It’s called It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night that Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.  What a track.  A must hear.  Last night I watching a Lewis Black stand up DVD and even he was talking about it!

The Notorious Cherry Bombs was released in 2004.

It reached #135 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts and #23 on the Country Album Charts.

Here’s Hard to Kiss the Lips followed by Dave Edmunds performing Sweet Little Lisa.


Levon Helm “Dirt Farmer”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#138 in the Series) is Levon Helm, Dirt Farmer.

Every year since the early 80’s I’ve come up with my own Album of the Year. This won easily as my Album of Year in 2008.  (It was actually released late in 2007, I know!)

We all know Levon Helm as drummer, picker and lead vocalist of The Band.  If you’re a fan of The Band, or just Americana music in general, you must add Dirt Farmer to your collection.

It was strange.  I actually had this album for quite some time before I really got into it.  I had it, gave it a quick spin when I must have been busy, or in a crappy mood, and then set it aside for at least three months.  Why, I don’t know.  But thankfully, I did give it a second listen. Some albums you have to be in the correct mood for it to work that first time.

So when I gave Dirt Farmer a second chance I was truly moved.  Levon Helm is an absolute amazing human.  He recorded this album when he was 67 years old and was just coming off throat cancer.   His voice was a little weak in places, and quite robust in others.  We have good days and bad days.  He’s since released a follow up called Electric Dirt and has been touring constantly.  Of Course he still has his acting career as well.  And he’s now 70 years of age.

On Dirt Farmer, Levon is joined by his daughter Amy Helm as well as former Bob Dylan band member, Larry Campbell.

The album begins with the traditional False Hearted Woman Blues. Next up is Poor Dirt Farmer.  It is pure ‘Band’ sounding, complete with Levon leading the verse vocals with a full vocal, full band chorus.  I would have loved to hear this with Rich Danko at his side.

Steve Earle contribute a track called The Mountain.  Got Me a Woman is a great blues track with basically Levon and his 8-string.

Single Girl, Married Girl is a fun sing-a-long explaining the differences of the two.

There is one song however that puts Dirt Farmer over the top. It took the album from a very good album to a great album.  That song is the ballad duet that Levon performs with his daughter Amy.  It’s called Anna Lee.  Written by Laurelyn Dossett, it is just Levon, Amy and Larry Campbell’s fiddle.  Father and daughter sound amazing together. If you don’t want to buy this complete album at least download this track.  Levon has a hard time hitting some of the notes.  But it just adds to the mystique and loveliness of the song. It actually feels like Amy is pulling him up at times.  Plus it fun to hear him sing about someone named ‘Anna Lee’ again.

Dirt Farmer was Levon’s first studio album since 1982.

It was released by Vanguard Records.

It won a Grammy Award for best Traditional Folk Album in 2008.

It peaked at #102 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart.

I’m attaching a few videos.  The first is a great interview that Levon did describing his fight with throat cancer.  Please watch it.  It’s an inspiring tale.   Next up will be Poor Old Dirt Farmer and Anna Lee.


Gram Parsons “GP”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#134 in the Series) is Gram Parson’s, GP.

I was shocked to see that I hadn’t featured Gram Parson’s as of yet.  He’s one of my all-time favorites.   I did feature him as part of The Byrds, Sweethearts of the Rodeo era.

GP was Gram’s first of two studio albums.  Grievous Angel was the second and could have been as easily featured as GP since they are both outstanding pieces of music.

GP was home for some of Gram’s most wonderful moments.  He was in excellent voice in this era.  Give a listen to some of the slower moments of the disc including ‘A Song For You, Streets of Baltimore, She’ or ‘The New Soft Shoe.’ Gram never sounded better.

There are some nice up tempo songs here as well. Those would include ‘Still Feeling Blue, We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning’ and ‘Big Mouth Blues.’

Gram will always hold a very special place for me in the landscape of American music.  He was one of, if not the, first to bring country music to the rock and roll field.  He would play albums of the early country greats to the hippies in LA until they ‘Got it.’  Without his influence we may never had heard the likes of bands like his own ‘Flying Burrito Brothers’ or ‘New Riders of the Purple Sage, Poco, Heartsfield, The Eagles, Pure Prairie League, etc etc.’

GP was produced by Blind Faith bassist Rick Grech. It was released in 1973.

Unfortunately, Gram would leave us by the end of that year.

Listen to the masterpiece of She or Song For You (Including a short interview with Gram) or the up tempo, Still Feeling Blue.


Grateful Dead “Terrapin Station”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#126 in the Series) is Grateful Dead, Terrapin Station.

You hardly ever hear people mention this album when they talk about the Dead, well maybe a little but it doesn’t get it due.

Side one of Terrapin Station five songs.  The most known songs being Estimated Prophet and two cover tunes, Dancing in the Streets, and Samson and Delilah.

What Terrapin Station is known for is the full sided title track that is side two.

The sixteen plus minute song, and one that was performed in it’s entirety many times by the band.

It’s broken into six parts.

  • Lady With a Fan

  • Terrapin Station

  • Terrapin

  • Terrapin Transit

  • At a Siding

  • Terrapin Flyer

  • Refrain

The 1977 Arista release was produced by Keith Olsen.  It was one of the few times that the Grateful Dead used an outside producer.  Keith also produced bands like Fleetwood Mac, Whitesnake, Scorpions and Ozzie Osbourne.  So he was quite the interesting choice to say the least.

On an personal note regarding Terrapin Station. Sonor drums had just released a new drum line right before the recording sessions began.  The first two kits were ordered by The Dead’s Mickey Hart and a good friend of mine, Shadowfax drummer, Stuart Nevitt.

Stu’s kit arrived first.  Mickey Hart wanted to use these drums on the album so he borrowed Stu’s to do the sessions.  Well, at least I thought it was cool.

Terrapin Station peaked at #28 and was certified gold in 1987.


Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris “All The Roadrunning”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#124 in the Series) is Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, All the Roadrunning

What a special collaboration.  They don’t get much better than this.  Especially considering that these two musicians come from two different worlds.  I’ll have more on that though later.

Bringing Mark and Emmylou together was genius.  The only thing that angers me is that I missed the tour and I have a feeling that that was a one-off tour and will not come again.

This is Us is a really heartwarming track that follows a couple as they flip through their old photographs.  I think it’s my favorite of the bunch.

Other goodies, they begin with listening to Emmylou sing a duet on Belle Starr. Her voice remains as strong as when she sung in her Gram Parsons era.  Red Staggerwing rocks and rolls and tells us a good story.  All the Roadrunning has a nice warm feeling to it.

We get 12 tracks here.  I’d call this more of a Mark Knopfler album with Emmylou at his side than I would an actual full fledged duet project..  He writes ten of the songs and it’s his voice and, of course, guitar that stand out the most.  Emmylou does have for print on it as well as it tends to lead more to the country side of Mark’s leanings.  The band is pretty much all from the Knopfler stable as well.

The two of them released a live album and DVD right after the tour.  There you’ll find most of this album plus some Emmylou standards and also some Dire Straits tunes.  It’s a must get for real music lovers.  It’s titled Real Live Roadrunning.

I often think back to something I once heard Emmylou say. It was on the ‘Nitty Gritty Dirt Bands’ Will The Circle Be Unbroken II. I don’t know the exact words, but she said something about how music is meant to be played with family and friends on the front porch.  That ‘That’ is real music!  And sometimes we get to far away from the front porch and have to bring it back.  I surely like many types of music and much of it could never be played on the front porch.  But I completely understand what she means.

This 2006 release reached #16 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts.

Here’s Mark and Emmylou playing This is Us with Paul Shaffer’s band along with a couple more tracks.  One which is isn’t a song from the album but a nice surprise!   And it could be done on the front porch!!!


Tom Waits “Blue Valentine”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is Tom Waits, “Blue Valentine.”

What a piece of music this one is.  I just love Tom Waits.  This is yet another example of the album I love is the tour I saw.

I can’t remember the name of the place. But there was a little roadhouse between Merrillville + Valparaiso, Indiana where I saw this tour.  It had to be in 1978 or ‘79.  The opening act was Leon Redbone who had laryngitis that night and did everything instrumental.  He then held up a ‘thank you’ sign after every song.

TW does an amazing version of ‘Somewhere” from West Side Story as an opening number on this album. It’s truly a remarkable version.

Other highlights include ‘Red Shoes By the Drugstore, Whistlin’ by the Graveyard, Romeo is Bleeding, $29’ and of course, ‘Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis.’

His concert from this tour was just as strong.  It’s hard to remember much of it.  I do know that he opened the show leaning against a gas pump smoking a cigarette.  I’ve actually seen this tour on Austin City Limits if you can catch it.


Poco “Pickin’ Up The Pieces”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is the debut album from Poco,”Pickin’ Up The Pieces.”

Poco laid their plan, right there, in the lyrics in the title cut.

Call it a Mission Statement:

‘Well, there’s a little bit of magic
In the music we’re playin’
So let’s begin
We’ll bring you back down home where the folks are happy
Sittin pickin’ and a-grinnin’
Casually, you and me
We’ll pick up the pieces.

That’s it. Richie Furay and Poco were laying the ground work not only for their plans, but also laying the groundwork for the new genre of country-rock.

This album features the original Poco lineup.
Richie Furay (guitar, vocals) and Jim Messina (guitar , vocals) had just finished a stint in another ground breaking group ‘The Buffalo Springfield.’

Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar, guitar, vocals) came in after playing on one track on the last Bufflalo Springfield album. ‘Kind Woman.’

George Grantham (drums, vocals) was a friend of Rusty’s.
Randy Meisner (bass, vocals) came over from a band called ‘The Poor.’ They had once opened for Springfield.

This would be the last time they would record together until the reunion album ‘Legacy.’
Shortly after this release, Meisner went on play bass for The Eagles while Jim Messina formed Loggins and Messina.

They’d be replaced by long term Poco members Timothy B. Schmit and Paul Cotton. (Or NORM! as he was known by his given name when he still lived in the Chicago Roseland area.)

Other highlights include, Consequently, So Long. Grand Junction. Calico Lady and Just incase it Happens, Yes Indeed.

This weekend, go out and listen to two album that started a genre, The Byrds ‘Sweethearts of the Rodeo’ and Poco’s ‘Pickin’ Up the Pieces’, Today’s Cool Album of the Day!’


Mudcrutch “Mudcrutch”

Today’s “Cool Album of the Day” is the debut self-titled album by “Mudcrutch.”

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never been the biggest Tom Petty fan.  Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s OK.  I’ve liked some of this work but I think the best thing he ever did was his original single ‘American Girl’ and that was 1976.

But however, I really liked his “Mudcrutch” album.

Here’s what Mudcrutch was all about. They were Petty’s first band formed in 1970.  The band did include a number of ‘Heartbreakers.’  They released a single and never amounted to all that much.

Here’s the lineup, Tom Petty on vocals and BASS guitar. Mike Campbell on lead guitar,  Benmont Tench on keyboards, vocals.  Randall Marsh on drums and Tom Leadon on rhythm guitar and backing vocals.

Tom Leadon is the brother of Bernie Leadon.  You of course know Bernie from the Flying Burrito Brothers and some other band named after a popular American bird.

Another I liked about “Mudcrutch” is that it was recorded live in studio.  It’s a shame that more acts don’t do that.

Highlights, lets go with the traditional ‘Shady Grove.’ (Think the Dillards on The Andy Griffith Show.)  ‘Lover of the Bayou.’ This was an old Byrds song that was always very hard to find.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they only place to find it was on a live album.  ‘Topanga Cowgirl, Bootleg Flyer’ and ‘Scare Easy.’

“Mudcrutch” debuted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.

It was produced by Tom Petty, Mike Campbell and Ryan Ulyate.

The band did a short tour and released a follow up live EP later in 2008 called “Extended Play Live.”


Lyle Lovett, “Pontiac”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day  is Lyle Lovett, “Pontiac.”

I was a music distributor in 1987. I was sitting at my desk when a Senior Vice President named Dennis Sinclair walked in and tossed “Pontiac” on my desk. He said, ‘Check this out, I think you’ll really like it.’ Senior VPs always got their hands on the goodies first.

As I jumped on Route 83 southbound I popped the disc into the player. The first song I heard was ‘If I had a Boat’ second up was ‘Give Me Back My Heart’ then ‘I Loved You Yesterday’ and on an on. OK, Lyle, you got me!

Other wonderful tracks include ‘She’s No Lady, M-O-N-E-Y’ and ‘She’s Hot To Go.’

I loved the variety in Lovett song writing. He can go from sweet ballad to some great up tempo shuffles.

Give a listen for EmmyLou Harris on back round vocals and Vince Gill on vocals and guitar. But also give a special listen for Francine Reed’s great vocal track on ‘She’s Hot To Go.’

On a personal note: ‘If I Had a Boat’ was the favorite song of one of my closest friends Jim ‘Hoss’ Gartland.’ He left us way before anyone should lose a friend like that. I can’t mention that song or hear that song without thinking of him. It proves that you can have a tear in your eye and a smile on your face at the same time.