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.


Atlanta Rhythm Section “Red Tape”

Today’s “Cool Album of the Day” is Atlanta Rhythm Section, “Red Tape.”

Kind of a forgotten band here. Atlanta Rhythm Section was all over the radio in the late 70’s early 80’s. ‘Red Tape” was a little before that.

This album was released in 1976. Some of the best tracks were ‘Jukin/San Antonio Rose, Free Spirit’ and especially ‘Mixed Emotions.’

Recorded in Doraville, Georgia and released on Polygram, “Red Tape” peaked at #146 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts while the only single to chart, ‘Free Spirit’ reached #85.


Heartsfield “The Wonder of it All”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (A Milestone! #100 in The Series…hold the applause please, thank you, thank you.) is Heartsfield, “The Wonder Of It All.”

Today we are going to celebrate the music of Heartsfield.

Well anyone that knows me knew that a Heartsfield album was coming sooner or later. I decided awhile back to make it entry #100.

Heartsfield was one of, if not the main reason for my love of music and for me making a career in music for what were many years and coming from many different angles. The members remain some of my closest friends for well over 30 some years now. They’ve been a major influence to much of the music I did, and still listen too now.

I’m sure everyone expected me to feature the first album from 1973. Considered ‘the classic,’ and an important piece of music that helped continue the beginnings of the country-rock sound.

That would be too predictable. So I decided to feature the fourth album, ‘Collector’s Item,’ the 1977 release that via Columbia Records.

But, I then remembered that that album did not contain anything written by J.C. Hartsfield, so I looked elsewhere.

That’s brings us to “The Wonder Of It All.” Mercury Records, 1974

“The Wonder Of It All” is a great representation of the ‘Heartsfield sound.’ The title track that starts the disc is actually a full length version of a previous version that ended the first album. It’s a lovely ballad written and sang by J.C. It features a great instrumental middle section that actually led to a write up in the jazz magazine, ‘Down Beat.’

Song two is Perry Jordan’s ‘House of Living,’ a lively harmonious track that more times than not was a show opener.

‘Pass Me By’ is Phil Lucafo. Phil usually writes the rockers. He slowed it down here.

‘Shine On’ was written by guitarist/vocalist Freddie Dobbs and drummer Artie Baldacci. I’ve heard many people refer to this as the best piece of music that Heartsfield every created. You could say that about a number of tracks. You wouldn’t be wrong if you said it about this one. Artie adds some sweet mellotron too.

Side two opens with Freddie’s ‘Eight Hours Time.’ A great train song!!

‘I’ve Just Fallen’ was the only track in which Artie Baldacci sang lead.

If ‘Shine On’ isn’t the best track, then Perry’s ‘Racin’ the Sun’ just might be! What starts as a ballad turns into a wonderfully stretched out, two guitar playoff between ‘Freddie and Phil.’

We end our journey in Mississippi with J.C.’s ‘Lafayette County.’ A straight forward country fiddle tune that puts a bow on the package nicely!

Filling out the band was Greg ‘Ziggy’ Biela on bass / vocals.

Terrible cover, but a cool album!!! I spent hours playing this LP, 8-Track, Cassette, CD or Mp3 over the years. I ain’t stoppin’ now!!!


BoDeans “Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#90 in the Series) is Bodeans.”Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams.”

The BoDeans are still huge in Chicago.  I’m not sure how big they’re ever gotten outside of this area.  It’s hard to tell from the inside.

This was their debut release.  I personally like the 2nd album, “Outside, Looking In” better, but I’m featuring this one.

This one has many of their concert favorites to this day. “She’s a Runaway, Fadeaway, Still The Night” jump out at you at the top of the disc.  Nice opening to a career boys!

BoDeans are basically Sammy Llanas and Kurt Neumann.  They’ve gone thru numerous band members. A little birdy told me that they’re not the easiest guys to work with.

This 1985 release was produced by T-Bone Burnett.

The title comes from the Rolling Stones ‘Shattered.’


Sea Level “Cats on the Coast.”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is Sea Level, “Cats on the Coast.”

This 1978 was Sea Level’s second of what would be, five studio albums.

Kind of an Allman Brothers spin off, but not really. They were a little a little more ‘jazzy fusiony’ than the brothers.

Three of the band members did play with the Allman Brothers at one time or another.

Main founding member, Chuck Leavell was on keyboards. Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, drums. Lamar Williams, bass and Jimmy Nalls, guitar.

The most well known track on the album was ‘That’s Your Secret.’

Lamar Williams died of Agent Orange related cancer in 1983. Chuck Leavell has toured with the Rolling Stones for years.

‘That’s Your Secret’ peaked at #50 on the Billboard US Singles Chart.

‘Cats on the Coast’ peaked at #31 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart.


Rank and File “Sundown”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is Rank and File’s, “Sundown.”

I’m not sure how many of you know this band, or much less this album.

Rank and File had a pretty unique sound.

‘Cowpunk’ was the term used to describe their music. I’ve also heard ‘Country-Punk.’ Whatever you want to call them, make sure you have ‘fun’ somewhere in the mix.

Alejandro Escovedo was in the band. Those of you in the Chicago area might be familiar with him.

The best songs here? Check out ‘Amanda Ruth, I Went Walking, Coyote’ and their best tune, ‘The Conductor Wore Black.’

This is really good stuff. Try and find some tunes and give it a listen.


Brian Setzer “The Knife Feels Like Justice”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#75 in The Series) is Brian Setzer’s, The Knife Feels Like Justice.

Earlier we featured the forgotten Steve Winwood album. Now we feature a long forgotten, Brian Setzer album.

This album just never got it’s due. It was NOT Stray Cats. And it’s not the Brian Setzer Orchestra. It was released between the two and has it’s own unique sound.

I guess if I had to tell you what it sounds like I guess I would go with ‘Americana.’ I’ve seen ‘Roots Rock’ in some reviews. Like we’ve discussed before, we hate to pigeon hole. But I’m trying to describe it to those that never heard it.

This 1986 release was produced by Don Gehman. Some other works that Don has produced include REM’s –Life’s Rich Pageant, all the early Mellancamp stuff, Steven Stills – Illegal Stills, Stills Young Band – Long May You Run

Brian also pulled out the big names to play on this one. Mike Campbell – 12 string guitar, Chuck Levell – keyboards, Steve Jordan – drums, Ben Tench – Organ, Kenny Aaronson – bass.

One of the stated goals in this Facebook group is to turn people on to something they didn’t know. That’s exactly the case here.

Don’t be scared away from this if you’re not a Brian Setzer fan. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!


Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel “Willie and the Wheel”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel’s, “Willie and the Wheel.”

Which 2009 release sat in my CD player the most? It easily was Willie Nelson and Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel teaming up for Willie and the Wheel. This was such a fun record. Short, only 36 minutes in length and just a bunch of fun.

They covered ‘Hesitation Blues’ (Hot Tuna used to do a great rendition of this) and also ‘I’m Sitting on Top of the World.’ Some of my favorites included ‘Sweet Jennie Lee’ and also Oh! You Pretty Woman.’

One of the most accessible records I’ve heard in a long time. I real easy listen.

“Willie and the Wheel” peaked at #90 on the Billboard Top 200 and #13 on the Billboard Country Charts.


The Byrds “Sweethearts of the Rodeo”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is the 1968 release by The Byrds, “Sweethearts of the Rodeo.”

Quite simply, a masterpiece. Was it the first country rock album? That’s debatable.

There has been so much written and discussed about this music that I’m not even going to try and invent an original idea.

Just listen to the music. I’d have loved to have heard Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons stay together longer. But then Gram might not have gone on to to record two other great pieces of music (Gram Parsons and GP). And maybe he wouldn’t have gone on to discover (along with Chris Hillman) EmmyLou Harris.

Some of the classic songs here are Bob Dylan’s ‘You Aint Goin’ Nowhere, You’re Still On My Mind.’ Woodie Guthrie’s ‘Pretty Boy Floyd,’ and of course, GP’s ‘Hickory Wind.’


The Band “Northern Lights, Southern Cross”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#16 in the series) is The Band’s, “Northern Lights, Southern Cross.”

No, It’s not as popular as some of The Band’s other releases such as ‘Music From Big Pink, Stage Fright” or the live masterpiece, “The Last Waltz,” but 1975’s “North Lights, Southern Cross” is still a great listen.

Choice cuts include “Ophelia, Hobo Jungle”, and two of my favorites. “It’s Makes No Difference” and “Acadian Driftwood. Acadian Driftwood” tells the story of the the Canadian Acadian tribe and how they drifted down the Mississippi river and became, Cajuns.

All songs were written by Robbie Robertson.

It was the first album to be recorded in The Bands newly opened California studio called Shangri-La. It had been four years since the last studio release, “Cahoots.”


John Hiatt “Slow Turning”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is John Hiatt’s 1988 Classic, “Slow Turning.”

John Hiatt had been known as a singer /songwriter for sometime when he broke thru to more mass recognition with his eight album, 1987’s ‘Bring The Faith.” But it was “Slow Turning” that broke him into a star.

The album feature the Goners as his backup band. The Goners were led by slide guitarist great Sonny Landreth.

Highlights included the title track, Slow Turning, Paper Thin, Tennessee Plates and Georgia Rae.


Little Feat “Down on the Farm”

Today’s Cool Album of The Day is Little Feat, Down on The Farm.

This album was released in 1979. It was being recorded when lead singer, slide guitarist, front man Lowell George passed away. Today is the 31st anniversary of Lowell death.

It wasn’t one of the bands better selling, nor better received albums. But I loved it. It’s one of my Little Feat favorites.

Favorite tracks? They’d include, ‘Six Feet of Snow, Down on The Farm, Perfect Imperfection’ and ‘Wake Up Dreaming.’

Some interesting guest players on the disc. David Linley, Robben Ford, Sneaky Pete Kleinow (Flying Burrito Brothers), Bonnie Raitt and future Little Feat member, Fred Tackett.

Lowelll George
(4-13-45) — (6-29-79)

Here’s a video of the title track but for something different. It’s by Paul Barrere’s band, The Bluesbusters, it’s followed up by Feel the Grove.


Arlo Guthrie “Alice’s Restaurant”

Today’s Cool Album of The Day is Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant.’

An American Classic, simply put.

“Alice’s Restaurant” was recorded and released in 1967. It was Woodie Guthrie’s son, Arlo’s, debut album.

The story of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ was the full Side A.

I’m not going to completely explain Arlo’s narrative here. It would take WAY to long and I’d probably screw it all up anyway.

But I will end with an interesting note. Richard Nixon was said to have this album.
‘The Song’ is 18:34 seconds, almost the exact same length as the Watergate tape gap.

Give this one a listen.


Eva Cassidy “Songbird”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day is Eva Cassidy’s, “Songbird.”

I’m not sure how many of you have heard of this young lady. I’m asking you to please read her story and listen to her music.

Eva Cassidy has, quite possibly, the best voice I’ve ever heard on a woman pop singer.

A few years back I was unaware of her. Then on a slow news night, ABC’s Nighline, did a feature on this young lady named Eva Cassidy. She was a singer songwriter from Washington D.C. She had released a couple of albums on a tiny local label that never really did much.

In 1996 she passed away after a battle with cancer.

A year or so later, a disc jockey in the UK began spinning her records and suddenly her music became huge overseas. They couldn’t get enough of it. So her label began releasing what they could. A demo here, a live show here etc etc. Most of the music released were cover tunes since they were taken from small café shows. But her vocals on tracks like Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold,’ Paul Simon’s ‘American Tune’ or Christine McVie ‘Songbird’ are just breathtaking.

I once looked on YouTube and was able to find, in three parts, that full Nightline piece. Look for it and watch it. It’s quite amazing.

I’m featuring her album called ‘Songbird’ here. But also look for other catalog items. A jazzy ‘Live at the Blue Note is also a keeper.


Corky Siegel “Corky Siegel”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#27 in the Series) is Corky Siegel’s self titled album, “Corky Siegel.”

Corky was better known for his work with picker Jim Schwall in the Chicago based blues act, Siegel-Schwall Band. But I was always partial to this solo release.

Corky used to do tons of solo shows around Chicago in the late 70’s. That’s when I got to really know most of this material.

The best known track here is ‘Half Asleep At The Wheel.’ Other highlights included ‘Am I Wrong About You,’ and ‘Mornin’ Corn.’

Rollow Radford from Siegel-Schwall played on this solo disc as well.

This is long out of print. But this and the follow up release called ‘Out Of The Blue’ have been released as a compilation. It’s called ‘Solo Flight.’

Some highlights from ‘Out of the Blue’ where more Corky classics like ‘Idhao Potato Man, Goodbye California’ and’ Southwest Coast Blues.’