Friday, December 29, 2006

Devil's In The House of the Rising Sun


It's been an interesting year, this 2006. I want to thank all those who stopped by. We'll try to keep things interesting 'round these parts in the year to come.

Part 3 today of the fantastalistic BRCM Top Ten Albums of the Year. We aint necessarily calling these the best albums, they're just our favorites. We'll have the final installment next Tuesday.

First, here's some fine albums that didn't make the cut, but are worthy of y'all hunting down some mp3's to see what you think. The list is in no particular order:

Califone: Roots and Crowns

The Be Good Tanya's: Hello Love

Handsome Family:Last Days Of Wonder

The Buffets: Saucy Jack

Bob Dylan: Modern Times

The King Kkan and BBQ Show: What's For Dinner

Jack O and the Tennessee Tearjerkers: The Flip Side Kid

Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (best title for an album ever)

Bonnie Prince Billy: The Letting Go

Scott Biram: Graveyard Shift

Jim Lauderdale: Country Super Hits,Vol. 1

The Legendary Shack Shakers: Pandelirium

Now, on with the exciting part of the show. Ladies and gentlemen, Part 3:

5. South Filthy: Crackin' Up

Bring the boogie. One of the most aptly named groups around, the moniker tells you all you really need to know about this nasty little supergroup featuring Jeffrey Evans, Jack Yarber (Oblivian), Walter Daniels, Eugene Chadbourne, and a host of other trash merchants. I wrote more extensively on this band and this album in an earlier post. Here's part of what I said:

"Oddly enough , it's not quite the scunge-trash fest one might expect, being more akin to your favorite bar band playing a trailer park barbecue fest. And that's a compliment. Sure, it's a shambolic, booze-ridden mess of an album, sloppy and missing anything remotely suggesting production values, with obvious nods to Exile-era Stones, Faces (small and large), Allmans and Van Zandts(both kinds). It's a very Southern affair, sweatily drawled and scrawled from Memphis to Austin, underpinned with a sense of longing and regret, of all things. A little
bit rawk, and a whole lotta country. Pop a top on your favorite beverage, settle into your lawn chair and enjoy the mad dog stylings of South Filthy."

That seems about right.

4. Cat Power: The Greatest

Chan Marshall has apparently been to hell and back, ripe for a VH1 special. I'm not a subscriber to the pop psychology notion that pain makes for great art. Marshall almost changed my mind. Almost. The problem with crediting pain or personal disorder to the creating process is that it takes for granted, or even negates, a little thing called talent. All the Artist's Way books in the world aren't going to make a piss poor writer, painter, or musician any better. Marshall's got talent in spades, and, outside of humane reasons for me wishing her well, I could really give a rat's ass about her demons. Show me what you got on the finished product, give me a song that lasts. And, whoah nelly, Cat Power dropped a bombshell. I found it hard to believe that Marshall could ever top her album "Moon Pix", and her last album, "You Are Free", sort of confirmed to me that she had long ago reached her peak. "You Are Free" was, frankly, a rather bad album. So it was with trepidation that I approached her latest, "The Greatest". I'm glad I did. Gathering some of the finest legendary Memphis studio musicians, Marshall is transformed. Long known for her lustily lazy, almost sleepy, vocal style, Marshall practically swings and swaggers through a good amount of these tunes, while the crack band honking and fiddling behind her. Even when things slow to normal Cat Power crawl and meditation it's with a sultrier, more confident sexiness than we're used to. It's a very Southern album, the kudzu lit hazily by the mid-afternoon sun. An album where the belle wanders off from the ball, barefoot, dancing with the ghosts of her dreams.

Have a good New Year's weekend. Stop back Tuesday for numbers 1-3 on the big list. Wonder what they'll be? Bet y'all can make some accurate guesses.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Run Boys, Run

Howdy. Welcome back. Part 2 of the Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 10 Most Favorite Albums All Time of the Year Until I Change My Mind list.

Before reading on, head over to Hickory Wind for my preview of a band that's going to be showing up on this list later on this week. It's the post entitled "In Praise of the Bar Band".

Now that you're back from that, let's get started.

Buckner goes rock. I've discussed elsewhere that I don't believe that the Country tag fits Richard Buckner any longer, if it ever really fit in the first place (maybe "Bloom" qualifies). Maybe nobody considers him Country, even "alt-country". What Buckner makes is burnt desert music, seared and charred meditations on minutiae, rendered inscrutable by dense and imagistic lyrics. A word rarely used when mentioning Buckner albums is fun. And while this album may not push that word up the list of descriptives, it certainly sheds the doom and gloom tag, at least musically. Lyrically, he's still plumbing the depths. But the addition on instrumentation of former Guided By Voicers, and a Superchunker gives Buckner a new sonic palette to ply his obsessions. His voice is still formed by the cracked clay of the earth, but the jagged bursts of guitar skronk and amped tempo provides a different context with which Buckner can play. The album is brief, 10 short songs, but Buckner takes the quick in and out all the way to the pharmacy. It's his best, most cohesive album since "Devotion + Doubt". Just don't expect a rehash of that classic album. It's a different beast entirely, and I can hear the purists moaning. Which should just add to why this album is so swell.

On here previous two albums, "Catalpa" and "Escondida", Holland mined the creaky, rocking chair, sepia-tinted tones of old weird America. They were spare affairs, the focus on her vintage Sara Carter-esque voice. With her latest album, Holland picks up stake, loads the mule, and heads east, slightly, picking up a band on the way. Jazz informs this album, particularly the ghost of Billie Holiday, who's slurred and lustily lazy vocal style is suggested, but never imitated, here by Holland. The themes of loss and memory permeate this album, the flourishes of melancholy. Music for attics and speakeasy's after hours, when the dancing is done, and the last dregs drained, the couples stumbled out the door, and only the lonely remain, one for my baby, and one more for the road. That road being a dusty lane from the city to a mythic, Gothic South. In a time of spineless Southern-inspired jazz-lite wallpaper by the likes of Norah Jones and Diana (makes my skin)Krall, this is the real deal. The following is not the one you think it is. It even includes a nice reference to Freakwater.

Lambchop's main man Kurt Wagner has played with us. What began as a quirky take on oddball Country has morphed from Hank to Curtis Mayfield-influenced blue-eyed Nashville soul, to this, his most intimate album yet. It's a record that requires time spent. A dusk album, all crickets and fading lights, the gloaming. In the quick fix, ipod nation, I'm not sure how this album fits. Songs that meander, hushed and murmuring vocals, lyrics of the smallest movements. The slowest thing, the glass of whiskey, the rustle of leaves. Beauty in the heart of sadness.

Part 3 tomorrow, numbers 3-5.

Insert clever comment here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fire On The Mountain

Hope all y'all had a nice holiday.

'Spect it's time for the Big Rock Candy Mountain best of list for 2006. I guess best of isn't necessarily the right word for it. As I've read through the various publications who do the whole "best of" thing, I find the majority of what is deemed important or best holds little appeal to me. I'm probably not alone in that. Things have become so niche-oriented that it's difficult to fully take in the broad spectrum of music that's out there. Look at all the music blogs that specialize, this one included. We've been so overwhelmed by genre that a common, shared voice is difficult to pinpoint. I'm not sure we could produce another Elvis, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, or Eminem again. Artists who, for one reason or another, transcend their genre, who reach across imaginary market share lines. I could be wrong.

This is the year that one of the most perfect songs ever written, "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys, has been co-opted to hawk a business that I will not patronize. Parliament is hawking some kind of SUV thingy.

I've purchased somewhere around 100-150 albums this year. The majority of them were not released in 2006. That probably makes me sound a bit the fogey. I'm too young to start sounding like my parents, right? There's great music being made every year, and I'm not keen on sacred cows or status quo's. I see no reason Yo La Tengo, f'rinstance, shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles. Music didn't begin and end with John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I find myself more and more drawn to strange little compilations from no-name or overseas labels featuring a bunch of never-remembered hillbilly honky-tonkers, blues jumpers, trashcan bangers, and whatnot. There's gold in them there hills. Important? Maybe not. There's a reason some folks never made it down the mountain, tablet in hands. But, you know, it's what I like.

Which is why this is not a Best Of list. There's no context to judge Best. No remove. Get back to me in 10 years when we see if we're still listening, when we see if there's influence.

So this is part 1 my list of favorite albums of the year, plus some other odds and ends sprinkled in over the next four days. They're albums I listened to the most, or think I'll appreciate for years to come. Maybe you will too. Or not.

Favorite Box Sets

1. Rockin' Bones : 50's Punk and Rockabilly (Rhino): The motherlode of trash. Sure, there's a couple thousand songs left off, but it's tough to argue with the songs included. Great as a primer, or as a nifty little all-in-one package for those of us who have these songs spread out over 101 other compilation cd's or records. This is the kind of music the Mountain's all about.

2: Waylon Jennings: Nashville Rebel (Sony/BMG): Good gravy! We got your Outlaw Country right here. Ol' Waylon had some schmatlz in 'im, and some of that is included on this career-spanning set. But all the classic honky-tonk goodness is here, from the personification of the Outlaw movement. I'm pretty sure Hank would have done it this way.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 10 Albums, Part 1

I'm cheating already. This album was released in 2005. But I didn't get it 'til this year. Seems likely this would have finished higher on last year's list, but I figger it's not fair to the albums that came out this year. Or something. Cast King, 79 and recording his first proper album, makes mountain music, lonely and faded, burnt and dirty, creaking and caked by mud. For a more in depth look into how great I think this record and Cast King are, you can check out what I wrote 11 months ago. It's a perfect record, the way god intended: A man, a guitar, a back porch, a mountain.

I was fully prepared to dislike this album. Gob Iron is Jay Farrar of Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt and Anders Parker of Varnaline. Ostensibly a collection of Farrar and Parker's take on traditional folk songs with musical interludes, it could easily have been a tossed-off, ego-driven affair, on it's way to the bargain bin of history. What it turned out to be, though, was a bit of a revelation. Farrar has the kind of voice made for the dusty corners of America, and he puts it to good use, with Parker's cracked voice serving as counterpoint. With respect to the originals, the two men forge a new modern traditionalism. The spirit of the old with a new weariness of time infused. A creaking, desperate affair.

Stop back tomorrow for Part 2, and a list of runners-up. Thanks.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I Built My Dreams Around You


Here we are on the final day of the Holiday extravaganza. Thanks for stopping by. Regular posts will resume shortly. Hope you can make it back for those. My Best Of lists start next Tuesday.

On to the tunes, and no surprises today. It's the same damn song every year.

My favorite Christmas song, and I'd argue one of the best ever written, is "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues . On it, Shane MacGowan has his finest moment, both as a writer sweet and sour, and as a singer, slurring and blurring the lines between the drunken joy and sunken despair of the Season. The gutter angel voice of Kirsty MacColl, accusing and cajoling, gives Shane the perfect foil. It's an immigrant song, filled with the broken dreams of brave new worlds and the willful, joyful abandon that desperation brings. And in the end, it's a song about hope.

Shane MacGowan turns 49 this Christmas day.

As a bonus we've got our good pal Tom Waits giving his take on a Christmas chestnut. It's....strange. Even by his standards. Back up singers?

Enjoy. Have a good Holiday. Or at least a good day off, if you get one. See you next week.

The Pogues: Fairytale of New York (mp3)

Tom Waits: Silent Night (mp3)

You've spent enough money this year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Santa's Got A Mixed Bag

The best radio station in the country, WFMU, has a blog. And on that blog they mentioned this here little corner of the world as a place to check out for Holiday music. I am both honored and humbled. The individual writing the entry singled out Jimmy Butler's "Trim Your Tree" as their favorite. As I had just deleted the song for exceeding the one week limit, I think it's only fair to re post the song:

Now for a hodge podge of stuff I didn't mange to fit elsewhere this month. There's one more Holiday post tomorrow, but if you've visited here for any length of time, you can probably guess what tunes are going up on Friday. I've got a ton more stuff, but y'all are just going to have to wait 'til next year.

And don't forget to stop back on Tuesday for the four- part, world-famous Big Rock Candy Mountain Best of 2006 extravaganza. Yippee.

Jim Lauderdale is one of the best songwriters working in Country and Americana today. His whiskey-tinged vocals serve well in contrast to folks like Ralph Stanley, who he's recorded Bluegrass albums with, and on it's own on keenly observed slice of life songs.

Sonny Boy Williamson (II) kicked some nasty Mississippi blues harmonica, with a gritty, worn voice to match. He's a favorite here at the Mountain.

Can you surf in a garage? The Trashmen found a way to make you feel like you could, here begging Santa Claus to aid and abet in their teenage lust.

And finally, Jump Blues bandleader extraordinaire Jimmy Liggins knows what we all really want for the Holidays.

Thanks for supporting your local, independent record stores this Holiday season.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rootin' Tootin' Santa Claus

Honestly, I'm not sure what that little feller's smiling like that for.

Country goodness today.

God bless Dolly Parton. Seems the focus is always on her, erm, considerable assets or her theme park. It's too bad, cuz folks are missing out on a tremendous songwriter and interpreter, and a woman who pushed women's independence in Country music long before it was acceptable.

We've discussed Jerry Reed numerous times before. Here's what we said most recently.

Johnny Horton was a honky tonker who was a forerunner of Rockabilly. You know him best from his rendition of "The Battle of New Orleans". He's doing something funny to Rudolph in the following song.

Faron Young is a legend. We really need to give him a proper full-length post. But for now, we have evidence below that Faron's a bit of a tattle tale.

Santa is a Honky Tonker.

Dolly Parton: Hard Candy Christmas (mp3)

Jerry Reed: Christmas Time's A Coming (mp3)

Johnny Horton: They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose (mp3)

Faron Young: I'm Gonna Tell Santa On You (mp3)

Thanks for spending the Holiday season with us.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

S'not Christmas

Gonna load you up over the next couple of days. Feel free to get loaded. Erm...

A little snot for Christmas today. Call it punk rock, call it trash, call it rock'n'roll. I dunno.

Nothing beats trash wunderkind Billy Childish in the guise of the Buff Medways.

The Replacements were the greatest band of the 80's, bar none. Really, I can't think of a rational argument that would convince me otherwise. The following tune is from a bootleg, so it's pretty much what you'd expect, sound-wise. But it kicks ass, and you need it.

Lisa Kekaula of The Bellrays could pretty much give Rachel Nagy of the Detroit Cobras a run for her money, so far as smoky, trashy, full-throated trashsoul goes. Hell I think she might even win.

The Mono Men are just nasty. And that's why we like them.

Enjoy these fine traditional Yuletide numbers.

Enjoy the spirit of independence this year.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Six Tons of Toys

Just wanted to say a quick thanks to all those who have provided links to this here little experiment in Holiday absurdity. And if you're a new visitor, thanks for stopping by. You probably won't get any breaking news or hot new artists at this spot, but we aim please in other ways. Some classic (or not so classic as the case may be) Country, a little Blues, Rock-a-Boppin-Billy, mountain stompers, Truck Driving, Trash, and greasy pre-rock R&B. Our favorite instruments are the accordion, pedal steel geetar, and the Hammond B-3 organ. We think Tom Waits is quite keen. Occasionally we're a little cantankerous. That about sums it up, then.

Stay tuned the day after Xmas for our week-long survey of the albums that made us hum, dance, air drum, or put a tear in our beer.

Oh, right, you're here for the music. Where was I?

'Couple of weeks ago we had Red Simpson sharing a little truckin' Yuletide joy. And what trucker's holiday would be complete without ole Dave Dudley chiming in? As you are probably already aware, Dudley is arguably the king of trucker tunes, and one of the Mountain's favorite artists.

Dave's on a tight schedule, helping Santa with his deliveries this year.

Truck on, Santa.

Dave Dudley: Six Tons of Toys (mp3)

Hey, instead of buying that last minute gift that nobody's going to want, why not drop a few bucks in the Salvation Army bucket this year?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Steady Santa

Happy Hanukkah, beginning tonight! My apologies for not having any tunes to go along. I'll try to do better next year. Any suggestions?

Speaking of things I haven't posted about, I've never really discussed Reggae or Ska here at the Mountain. It's not that we dislike those forms. We're actually big fans, particularly of Ska. I just wouldn't consider myself anywhere near qualified in my limited knowledge to post intelligently. Not that any other posts here could be called intelligent, per se.

That said, I thought I'd throw a little Ska and Reggae your way today, courtesy of the keen Trojan Records Christmas Box Set.

Yellowman wants to know why Santa is selective in his destinations.

And The Granville Williams Orchestra knows how Santa really gets around. When he's actually showing up.

Yellowman: Santa Never Comes To The Ghetto (mp3)

The Granville Williams Orchestra: Santa Clause Is Ska-ing To Town (mp3)

Shop, Shop, Shop, Shop, Buy, Buy, Buy, Fa la la la la.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Radio Free Santa

Well. Here's two fellers you wouldn't normally expect to find side by side outside of free-form radio. But why the hell not?

Gentleman Jim Reeves is a little too pop for some Country purist's liking. We here find him to perfectly acceptable. His laconic voice reminds us of another Mountain favorite, Dean Martin, not in sound but in approach. If that makes a lick of sense. There's room for all kinds of Country under our Christmas tree. Not Garth Brooks, though. Never Garth Brooks.

Our cover star, El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, is one of the finest vocal stylists working today. We'd take him over the overrated Mr. Presley any day of the week. And we aint kidding. Really.

Feliz Navidada!

Buy Product! Support the Capitalist agenda! Spend lots of money at Big Name Department Stores and Media Outlets!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tree Trimming


I've completely ignored the Blues thus far, and time's running out. Good Gravy!

Let's fix that.

First a little jump blues from Oscar McLollie and His Honey Jumpers. If you like Wynonie Harris, or the beatnik post from earlier, this is right up your alley, cats.

Next, Jimmy Butler wants to do a little tree trimming this Holiday season. And who of us doesn't, really? Not the sublest of songs, but then what about this time of the year is subtle?


Please support you local, independent thingy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hanks For Chirstmas

Outside of a couple of stocking stuffers, my shopping is all done. Gol-durn, I'm an overachiever.

There's something about a Hank in Country and Western music. Today we've got 2/3 of the trinity, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, Hank Williams, of course, being God.

Hank Thompson , a fine purveyor of the drinking song, and one of the last great Western Swing artists, wants to wrap something of his up for you this Christmas.

Hank Snow, one of the Mountain's favorite musicians across the style spectrum, has some dancing in mind. Who he's doing the boogie with might raise some eyebrows.

Hank Snow: Reindeer Boogie (mp3)

Hank Thompson: Gonna Wrap My Heart In Ribbons (mp3)

Please support your local, independent Hank this Holiday season.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fa La La Dysfunctional

I've neglected a little Holiday linkage round these parts.

PCL Linkdump has a great roundup of sites in two parts. You should check it out here and here.

Some of the Mountain's favorites are:

Red Ryder BB Gun

Ernie (Not Bert)

77 Santas

Christmas A Go Go

There's a million more out there, so get hunting. We're also eagerly anticipating the return of Rev. Frost, and what goodies he might bring.

You'll notice in today's keen photo accompaniment that the men have devised a swell way deal with the intricacies of the holiday season.

Robert Earl Keen shares their pain. Keen is a friend of Lyle Lovett, so you can bet he knows his way around an interesting lyric.

The song "Merry Christmas From the Family" is a brilliant and hilarious distillation of the dysfunctional family Holiday gathering. It may well be the Mountain's second favorite Holiday song of all time (nothing beats the Pogues, as you might well have guessed). So, if you only grab one song from here this year, this is the one you need.

Oddly enough, Jill Sobule, of all people, does a fine version of this song. I'll let you find that one elsewhere.

Robert Earl Keen: Merry Christmas From the Family (mp3)

Please support your local convenience store this wintry season.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Coalminer's Holiday


Long night last night. Still a little woozy. There's something about a bar/lounge/pub during the holidays. Maybe it's the string of cheap lights, or the desperate cheerfulness, or the cheerless desperation. Guess it depends on where you are.

So this'll be a short one.

We love Loretta Lynn up here on the Mountain. Of all the great female Country artists, and they are legion, Loretta's our favorite. Our patron saint. Maybe it's her backwoods angel voice. Maybe it's her common folks real life story. Maybe it's her unique beauty. Regardless, she's always welcome for drinks on our back porch.

"I Won't Decorate Your Christmas Tree" is her Holiday version of the Mountain's favorite Lynn song "Don't Come A'Drinkin'..."

Loretta Lynn: I Won't Decorate Your Christmas Tree (mp3)

Loretta Lynn: Country Christmas (mp3)

Independent record store clerks kinda look like elves.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Santa's Riding Buddy

Happy Birthday, Tom Waits.

I've been neglecting the Country. Sorry about that. I've got too many songs, and not enough days, so I've been trying to vary a little. Haven't even hit some classic Blues and drinking Holiday tunes. Well. We'll see what happens. What do y'all want to hear?

To reward the patience of my Country friends, I'm gonna give some classics today and tomorrow.

And who's more classic than George Jones? And we'll toss Tammy Wynette into the stocking today too.

George is bringing presents this year on his riding lawnmower. It's a long story.

George Jones and Tammy Wynette: Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus (mp3)

George Jones: My Mom and Santa Claus (mp3)

Please support your local independent drinking establishment and tractor store.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Headcoat Christmas

That's Black La Belle, for cats in the know.

So. Have I been reduced to posting silly little trifles here at the Mountain for the Holidays? Have we completely lost our rockers, and any credibility we never had in the first place with this month-long foray into Holiday nonsense? You bet your sweet ass. It's an absurd season, but we like shiny lights and aluminum things.

Tell you what. I'll be very serious and Greil Marcus-like when I post the Mountain's all-important top 10-15 albums list between Christmas and New Year's. Yep, that's either a preview or a warning.

For now, though, I don't think the following little ditty is going to improve matters much at all.

Thee Headcoatees are Bongo Debbie, Kyra LaRubia, Ludella Black, and, your girlfriend and mine, Holly Golightly. With Thee Billy Childish on songwriting, production, and various instruments.

They're the best girl beat/punk band you've ever heard. But you knew that.

This one is a Sonics cover of sorts, with Mr. Childish playing Santa Claus at the beginning. You'd be forgiven if you thought of "Farmer John" while listening. I think this version is quite keen, and it goes on every damn Xmas mix I make. So, make of that what you will.

Thee Headcoatees: Santa Claus (mp3)

Please support you local Tweed manufacturers.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stocking Stuffers

Change of pace, or sound, for the Mountain today.

This one is posted at the suggestion/request of Mrs. Mountain.

While I'm more of a Billie Holiday fella myself, the Missus is a real big fan of the mighty Ella Fitzgerald. And there's no denying the mighty pipes of the regal Queen of Jazz.

Here's Ms. Fitzgerald getting a little suggestive for the Holidays. Or am I reading too much into it? You tell me.

Ella Fitzgerald: Santa Claus Got Stuck (In My Chimney) (mp3)

I'm only keeping songs up for 5 posts/days, so grab 'em while you can. By the time you read this, Andre Williams will be gone.

Support your local stocking fillers.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Santa Is A Trucker


Didja know that Santa's a trucker? No? Oh, sure he is. How the hell else do you think he hauls all that shit all over the world? The sleigh thing is just a front, a way to throw off potential highway robbers. You won't find his name on the IBT rosters, though. They keep this stuff real secret, like. So you get this breaking news here first. Big Rock Candy Mountain is your source for exposing all the latest news and secret conspiracy theories.

We like trucking music a whole bunch of bunches here at the Mountain. But you knew that already.

And we think Red Simpson is the cat's meow. One of the holy trinity of trucking songs, with Dave Dudley and Del Reeves, Simpson has been in on the Santa Claus conspiracy for quite some time. All the way back in 1973, with his album Truckers' Christmas, ole Red was exposing the truth and sticking up for the trucker's of the world, Santa's true Elves.

Truck on, Santa, truck on.

Red Simpson: Santa's Comin' in a Big Ol' Truck (mp3)

Red Simpson: Out On The Road For Christmas (mp3)

Please support your local, independent truck stops this holiday season.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bongo Fury Santa

Like, wow, man, we're getting hit here with the first proper snowstorm of the year. And the aluminum Christmas tree got up just in time. Yep, I said aluminum. It's real purty, just needs some proper ornaments to fit the style.

Tonight I'm out for festive beverages with friends for an early holiday celebration, and I wondered if anything could be a better soundtrack for the evening with the beatniks than, well, "Beatnik's Wish" by Patsy Raye, the classic hepster's Christmas song, Babs Gonzalez notwithstanding (we'll get to Babs later this month).

Then I realized I had already posted that a couple of years ago, so I figgered I'd add a swell little number by Ed "Kookie" Byrnes entitled "Yulesville", a flurry of drums and be bop jazz-lite, with Byrnes giving his finger snapping version of The Night Before Christmas.

These fine songs aren't exactly the height of seriousness, but, really, how serious can you be about a fat man in a red suit? What they will do is help your hot butter rum toddy go down even smoother at your next swinging Holiday party.


Blah, blah, blah, independent record stores, blah blah blah.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Buck Yr Yuletide Pride

Guess it's about time to stop futzing around and get to what y'all came here for.

A little Country cheer for the Holidays.

Buck Owens died this year. But don't be sad, ole Buck left behind a big city's worth of classic tunes. Bakersfield may not look a lot like the North Pole, but Owens knows a thing or two about Santa's sinister alter ego.

Charley Pride has just about the most perfect voice in music, a soulful twang to make you dance or break your heart. Known for challenging the perceived racial divide in Country, Pride very quietly established himself as a giant in the industry. He's long been a Mountain favorite. Kiss an angle good morning, indeed.

Get your Yule on.

Buck Owens: Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy (mp3)

Charley Pride: Christmas In My Hometown (mp3)

Help Santa out. Shop locally and independently.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Santa Twist


Tom Waits is on the Daily Show in an hour, as I write this.

So, what do you want from me?

Let's see. Blues, Country, Garage, or....Rockabilly!

Don't know if all y'all have checked out the great Buffalo Bop label and it's series of obscure and boppin' collections, but any fan of rockabilly or quality hillstomp Country oughta check 'em out.

One of my favorites, at least for posting purposes today, is Rockabilly Xmas. It's swell stuff, twanged and tweaked, rough and manic like reindeers in heat.

Of particular note is the appearance of Cordell Jackson, the queen of rockabilly guitar.

So whip out your Western shirts and your lariat, and wrassle yerself up some hot slices of Rockabilly Holiday to keep you warm on these approaching wintry, festive nights. A little nog probably wouldn't hurt, either.

There's 27 more classic rockabilly Holiday tunes on Rockabilly Xmas, so ask your local, independent record store if they'll order you up a copy. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Poor Mr. Santa

Welcome to Big Rock Candy Mountain's annual holiday blowout. Daily(mostly) posts from now 'til December 25! Rockin' Holiday tunes! Pithy and clever commentary!
Well, maybe not so much on that last item.
I'm trying hard not to repeat any songs from the last two years of this fun experiment, but if the mood strikes me, I might. Sorry.
We'll kick this sucker off with the same gentleman we kicked last year off with, and why the hell not? Different song from last year, though.
Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams is your daddy. And if you don't know it yet, you will shortly. If you love that greasy, old timey Rythm and Blues, then you owe Mr. Williams a thank you card.
Andre's a dirty old man. Proudly so.
Andre Williams cd's and records make great stocking stuffers. Either kind of stocking.
The B-side to this single is absolutely filthy, by the way. So go hunt it down. You deserve it. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hobo Heaven

Happy Tom Waits day! I'm a couple of hours away from headin' out to my local record store to pick up my official copy of Orphans. Waits fans, we're a little special aren't we? I'll have an official review/post about the set later....oh, say, somewhere between Christmas and New Year's, when you just know it's gonna show up in my top ten list of the Mountain's fave albums of the year. How's that for a preview?

And don't forget to mark your calendars for the day after Thanksgiving when we begin our daily (dear god) Holiday posts.

For now, though.

Lecil Travis Martin was a liar, a scam artist, and a media whore. And we love him dearly. Went by the name of Boxcar Willie, and if you paid any attention to the television in the late 70's and 80's youd've seen his commercials sandwiched between Freedom Rock and K-Tel disco compilations. Yep, that's the guy who loved America, trains, and regular folk values. Surely he had a huge serving of apple pie every night, tired from riding the rails all day, singing hobo songs to the weary and disposed travellers of ice boxes and empty coal chutes. Salt of the earth, with a train whistle's yodel.

Or maybe not.

In actuality, Willie was a military man, serving in the Air Force until the 70's, music being a second job, of sorts. Upon retiring from the Force, Willie pressed full-bore into his music career, perfecting his hobo persona for mass consumption. It worked, and Willie became a star. All those TV adverts didn't hurt his career much either, though they exemplified the fake authenticism that earned him much derision amongst the purists, a derision that exists to this day, as you'll note in the rhetoric of CMT's biography of him.

What's problematic about the anti-Boxcar Willie sentiment is that it builds itself on the realness of his persona. True, he was no hobo in his adult life. But he grew up around railroads, and there is some evidence that he was prone, in his youth, to attempts at hopping freight cars. His success at this is negligible, but it certainly points to a love of train and hobo culture that he carried into his future caricature. The fact that most performers adopt some type of persona separate from their real selves is accepted in general, but it seems that we pick and choose who we'll allow this leeway based on a random set of rules that boggle in their application. Really, how much time did Johnny Cash actually spend in jail? And I do not mean to compare Boxcar Willie with Johnny Cash in terms of talent or importance.

Really, Boxcar Willie isn't that important. He set the standard for nothing, unless you count the first Country artist to perfect the art of television hawking in the modern age. 'Course, back in the day big name Country artists hawked products and their own names regularly on radio shows, and barn dance transmissions.

But here's a catch. To many not in the stable of hoity toity music critics and experts, Boxcar Willie represented a return to real Country in the decades of Nashville's demise into overproduced swill and Urban Cowboy excess and blandness. What they heard when they heard Willie sing was the sound of yesterday, a nostalgic twanged twinge in the traditional heart. How genuine it was didn't really matter. It certainly sounded more genuine than, say, Alabama. And who knows how many people who weren't really Country fans took Willie's advice and checked out Hank Williams, or Jimmie Rodgers, or Dave Dudley, or Lefty Frizzell. Boxcar Willie may fail the Greil Marcus test of importance, context, and obscurity masquerading as relevant, but he certainly made a convert of this feller as an impressionable lad listening to WWVA and dreaming of going to Jamboree in the Hills. It was also Boxcar Willie who fell me into love with the train song. To quote Mr. Westerberg out of context, "I'm in love,with that sound."

So. Boxcar Willie isn't important. He's not revolutionary. He's not genuine according according to those who are experts.

But he's one hell of a lot of fun. He's better than you think he is. He's got a Country voice that makes you want to sing along, makes you want to hop the rail. And at the end of the day, after all the term papers and doctoral theses have been written, aren't those the most important things?

Boxcar Willie: Big Freight Train Carry Me Home (mp3)

Boxcar Willie: Hobo Heaven (mp3)

Boxcar Willie: Boxcar Blues (mp3)

Please consider supporting your local, independent retailers this Holiday season.

Thursday, November 16, 2006



We're less than a week away from the release of the Tom Waits box set, Orphans. Now, I'm not saying I've heard it yet, and I'm not saying I haven't, but a little bird has told me that it's pretty damn swell. 'Course lots of the songs have been available in some form or another elsewhere on non-Tom albums (though some of them appear as re-recordings), it's pretty keen to have them all assembled in one fine and dandy package. So empty out your penny jars, head to the bank, sell your blood, trade in those Peter Frampton albums, whatever it takes. Show Tom a little love. 'Cuz Tom loves you.

Speaking of Tom, I gotta believe he's heard himself a little Blind James Campbell at some point.

After years of playing in roadhouses, jukejoints, and, yes, street corners all around his native home of Nashville, with various combos (the Nashville Washboard Band, The Friendly Five), Campbell hit what must have been (early recordings are either sketchy or non-existent, I've never heard any) his creative stride teaming with Beauford Clay, George Bell, Bell Ray and Ralph Robinson (on Tuba!!!!) to form Blind James Campbell and His Nashville String Band.

Recorded by Arhoolie bossman, Chris Strachwitz, over a period of a couple of years in the early 60's, the appropriately titled album Blind James Campbell and His Nashville String Band.

Now, why the hell should you care about some Blues guy among thousands recorded, revived, rediscovered, or what have you, during the heydey of the decade of folk revivals?

I'll tell you.

It's a glorious mess.


Honking, belching tuba, loose-stringed and more loosely tuned fiddles, banjos dueling guitar lines smashed long before The Clash were even born, and the voice of god when he's drunk rambling and veering all over the melody, falling and rising above the wailing din. And I think there's a tub being thumped somewhere along the way. Oh, my, this is good stuff. And chaotic. It's string band music taken to the end of the rainbow, and finding not a crock of gold, but hallelujah, and that's more than good enough. Folk, ragtime, country reels,'s all present and mashed together into a joyous mess of hill-stomp, hill-billy, street corner dance music. The Mountain was created for albums like this.

I actually considered changing the theme song of this here eternally late spot on the world wide internets from, well, "Big Rock Candy Mountain" to "I Am So Blue When It Rains". I dare you not to start dancing 'round your room with the nearest available dust mop or broom when you listen to it.

Blind James Campbell: I Am So Blue When It Rains (mp3)

Blind James Campbell: Buffalo Gal (mp3)

Blind James Campbell: Sittin' Here Drinkin' (mp3)

Blind James Campbell: Gambling Man (mp3)

The Holiday season is almost upon us, and that means we're coming up on the legendary daily holiday posts from the Mountain (If anyone wants to start a betting pool on how long that lasts, I'll give away a mix cd to the winner). It also means that it's time to spread the seasonal cheer and help keep your local, independent businesses afloat.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



Just watched The Conversation, starring Gene Hackman, for the first time in about 15 years. Damn. Besides featuring what may be Hackman's finest moment on film (even over Popeye Doyle), it's a classic tale of paranoia and covert activity that is strangely prescient of certain activities that may or may not be taking place this very day. If you've ever gotten the feeling that you're being watched or listened to, that what you say might be used against you at an unspecified time or place, or you fear that Big Brother's creeping ever closer, this is the film for you. Hell, if you just like great acting, you might wanna oughta check it out.

But, anyway, this aint a film blog, and I aint nohow no kinda expert.


I've been dancing around a proper Jerry Reed (and what the hell's up with that looks like a knob)post for some time now, including him in two separate past trucking posts.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Reed was already a shit-hot guitarist (dubbed "The Guitar Man" during his subsequent time in Nashville) by the time he recorded his first songs at the age of 18. He recorded some forgotten, or forgettable, country and rockabilly sides in the 50's, with his best success coming off a Gene Vincent treatment of his song "Crazy Legs". During the 60's he released some pretty solid singles and spent his downtime doing session work as a guitarist.

Finally the 70's dropped and Reed hit his commercial and artistic stride with such classics and "Amos Moses" and "When You're Hot You're Hot", amongst others. Reed mixed modern Country and Cajun swamp trash, brewing a moonshine still's worth of tonky love.

Reed was never really included in conversations involving the Outlaw movement circling around Willie, Waylon, et. al, and his flirtation with Hollywood, with the exception of the immortal Smokey and the Bandit, suggested that maybe he wasn't too concerned with working outside the carefully drawn lines of the established entertainment industry. Who knows? But somehow his songs sounded different, more raw and alive than the usual Nashville fare. It's music for southern country roads, topping the century mark in a hopped up muscle car round dangerous curves. Or maybe it's music for beater pickup trucks, with the gun rack barely holding on. Better yet, a pontoon boat hauling illegal whatnot through a Louisiana swamp.

'Course "East Bound and Down" is a stone cold classic so far as we're concerned here at the Mountain. But you've heard that a million times by now (thanks in part recently to our good pal, amigo, Earl Hickey). So here's some other swampy garbage goodness tunes from the mind of Mr. Jerry Reed.

Jerry Reed: Alabama Wild Man (mp3)

Jerry Reed: Amos Moses (mp3)

Jerry Reed: Guitar Man (mp3)

Jerry Reed: Ko-Ko Joe (mp3)

Please consider supporting your local, independent retailers.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I got ya covered for your fix this week of crazed, one man band plinkers, pluckers, and bangin' hollerers.

In actuality, Harmonica Frank Floyd may not be quite so bangin' and crazed musically as some of his musical contemporaries like Hazil Adkins. And, well, he's not really technically a one man band, more of a guitar and, er, harmonica man. With peculiar vocal tics. Oh, those peculiar vocal tics.

Floyd got an early start in music, following, naturally enough, carnivals and, most importantly, medicine shows. These shows, typically used to sell questionable medical products, think Hadacol, were generally an anarchic series of performances and lectures, barkers and sideshow freaks. Floyd fit in well with this crowd, developing his slightly loopy style, approaching each subsequent show or rare recording session as an act, the soul shouting emcee, selling you a twisted boozy product of dubious believability, of swamp mosquitoes and peepholes.

Course the believability factor played a large part in his being signed to Chess Records in the 50's. Legend has it that Chess thought that Floyd was Black, and was greatly embarrassed, after releasing several singles by Floyd, to discover that he was more or less a white feller, with traces of Cherokee in his bloodline. A good ole boy, as it were. It's easy, I suppose, in hindsight, to wonder how this "mistake" was made. While Floyd certainly pulls from the Blues as an influence, his style certainly suggests more pull from the Country and Folk side. At best Floyd was an unsubtle stylist. At his worst, and it seems this would have been anathema to Chess, Floyd could sound like a poor man's black-face minstrel, something he surely had great exposure to whilst logging his medicine show miles. Hardly then, one would imagine, an ideal calling card for inclusion on the Chess roster. Who knows? If anyone has any further information on the whole Chess/Frank Floyd story, I'd be fascinated to read more.

Floyd was known to play his harmonica like a cigar, inserting virtually the whole damn thing into one side of his mouth and wailing away. Make of that what you will.

Why should you listen to Frank Floyd, then? Is the phrase folk trash already taken and safely compartmentalized into a nice Best Buy section of the music racks? It's, well, greasy and raggedy stuff, obscene at times, and certainly worth your time if you're a fan of the junk we spew here at the Mountain.

Edit: Got slightly scooped on Floyd, I just found out. Mr. Dan Fontana's got a video of ole Frank right here.

Harmonica Frank Floyd: Mosquito Bar Britches (mp3)

Harmonica Frank Floyd: Howlin' Tomcat (mp3)

Harmonica Frank Floyd: Knothole Blues (m3)

Please consider supporting your local, independent record store. If you've got the dough.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Gun Hard Rock

Hello. I am morally and intellectually confused. Just, you know, wanted to get that out in the open.

It's a funny thing. I'm always going on and on about how this or that artist is somehow forgotten, or isn't getting their due as compared to those they've influenced or who had more commercial appeal, or whatnot. I'd have to admit to being a bit short-sighted on that front, and a tad disingenuous. There have always been obsessives and collectors and, imagine this, just plain fans (y'now, folks who like music just for the sake of it being music that they like) who have kept the torches burning for a plethora, nay, untold thousands of so-called forgotten artists. Not to mention the bands and artists who are forthcoming to the point of negating their own creative impulses about the artists who influenced them. There's even a lengthier argument, which I don't have time for, that the internet, instead of killing the culture of obscure record collecting, as some have argued, has actually amped up the conversations and accessibility to artists not covered in popular media or played outside of the dwindling free form/college styled radio outlets.

Hardrock Gunter is one of those fellers I'd normally be ranting the aforementioned obscurity argument about. Truth is, Gunter's got his fair share of fans. Like Moon Mullican, Gunter was instrumental in transforming the sound of country, playing with tempos and pulling influences from outside the rural template, particularly finding inspiration in the rhythm and blues jukebox singles of the time. Gunter is credited by some as the first artist to give rock'n'roll it's name, utilizing the phrase in the single "Birmingham Bounce". An interesting interview with Gunter, overview of his career, and discussion of "Birmingham Bounce" can be found here.

Gunter's led a fascinating life, and I would highly recommend checking out his website for a full rundown of his history up until present (He's still with us, and has recently performed the odd date here and there), including how he got his moniker, having been born Sidney Louie Gunter. It's well worth your time. More so than hearing me rambling on.

But I'll ramble a bit anyway. Gunter may be the original rockabilly cat. At least the first recorded. There's always going to be an argument about who made who or what. But he's got a little western swing in his blood, as well, suggesting the current confusion in bands that borrow liberally from the country and western canons. And, again, his rhythm and blues influence runs smack dab into a honky tonk barstool. Combine all those and you have the generic template for rockabilly, and we aint saying anything new or revelatory here.

It's how Gunter kicks it that makes it great, how he bangs around the expected, surprises you, and gives you exactly what you thought you should get, but didn't think you could. It's wild, primal stuff, but honed by tradition, a contradiction and a revelation. From raveups like "Hillbilly Twist" and "I'll Give 'Em Rhythm" to the more identifiable mountainy fare of "I've Done Gone Hog Wild", you'd expect Gunter to be suffering from a multiple personality disorder, until realizing it all fits against the backdrop of an artist stretching themselves, too full of music to rein themselves in or square peg themselves into a demographic.

Essentially, Hardrock Gunter is a country mastermind, and he's going to kick your ass, and you're going to like it.

Gunter played with a variety of bands (The Pebbles, The Rhythm Rockers, The Pop-Corn Poppers, The Sunshine Boys, etc., etc.). The collections I'll Give 'Em Rhythm and Gonna Rock Gonna Swing Gonna Dance All Night, collecting his Rhythm Rockers sides, are highly recommended.

Hardrock Gunter: Boogie Woogie on a Saturday Night (mp3)

Hardrock Gunter: I've Done Gone Hog Wild (mp3)

Hardrock Gunter: I'll Give 'em Rhythm (mp3)

Hardrock Gunter: Hillbilly Twist (mp3)

Hardrock Gunter and The Rhythm Rockers: Jukebox Help Me Find My Baby (mp3)

Hardrock Gunter and The Rhythm Rockers: I'll Go Chasin' Women (mp3)

Please consider supporting your local, independent business. Fight the man, man.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Trucks on a Plane

Dirty trucker. Mother trucker. Where the truck have I been?

I'm back, and as a gift, I'm going to revisit a familiar Mountain theme and obsession to make it up to all y'all. We love us some good tasty truckin' music, we sure do, and we've already ranted ad nauseum on the topic already. So kick back for a bandwidth-busting half a cd mix of rubber burning, white line chasing, diesel smoking, pill popping rig rock heaven. Most of the following aren't exactly seminal, but we're here for a good time today, not some boring ole history lesson that no one reads anyway. Pop these in yr 8-trackin' 18 wheeler and hit the road before the snow hits.

Hope the following will appease the patient while I begin relaunch number 33 1/3. Grab 'em quick, cuz once they're gone....

Kelly Willis: Truck Stop Girl (mp3)

(This song features Jay Farrar of UncleTupeloSonVolt, with whom she's also done a fine version of "Rex's Blues". Hop on Kelly's truck here.)

Dave Dudley and Charlie Douglas: Where's the Truck (mp3)

(Well, it's Dave Dudley. And who hasn't lost a thing or two after a wee tipple?)

Scott Biram: 18 Wheeler Fever (mp3)

(More on Mr. Biram at a later date)

Kay Adams: Little Pink Mack (mp3)

(Ok, I lied earlier. This one is seminal. Get your kicks with Kay yonder.)

Del Reeves: Bertha the Bull Hauler (mp3)

(For more on my take on Del, head over to this diner booth)

Dick Curless: Big Wheel Cannonball (mp3)

(Dick's curlies are exposed here.)

Hank Snow: I've Been Everywhere (mp3)

(Not the version everyone knows, but Hank Snow's a personal favorite of mine.)

Jerry Reed: Texas Bound and Flyin' (mp3)

(Yeah, not "East Bound and Down", but I already gave you that a year ago. It's still from "Smoky and the Bandit", and, really, if you listen closely, it's basically the same song. Everybody loves Jerry Reed.)

Kitty Wells: My Big Truck Drivin' Man (mp3)

(Queen of Country Music, queen of my heart. Who doesn't love Kitty?)

Moe Bandy: Kickin' Asphalt (mp3)

(I have nothing to say here. It's Moe. That's good enough)

Red Simpson: Big Mack (mp3)

(Red Simpson eats here.)

Red Sovine: Freightliner Fever (mp3)

(The doctor is in)

Tex Williams: Teamster Power (mp3)

(I was raised as a big union supporter. Still am. Tex pays his dues.)

Planet Rockers: Truck Driver's Rock (mp3)

(Is it genuine, or modern posing? You got me. But I think the Planet Rockers are swell. Featuring Eddie Angel from Los Straightjackets)

Willis Brothers: The Old Sleeper Cab mp3)

(And with that, I'll let the classic tones of the Willis Brothers sing me into my own sleeper cab for the night.)

Please consider supporting your local, independent businesses of choice. Thanks. And thank you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Aint Missing You At All Since You've Been Gone

I'm hi-larious. Really.

Actually I'm on a great deal of prescribed medication.

Just wanted to leave a quick note to say I haven't gone away. Between entertaining friends over Tom Waits week, followed by a nasty bout of sickness I'm just now recovering from, I have been neglectful of my free tunes duty. Sorry 'bout that.

I'll be back next week, and with the advent of Autumn, probably I'll be keeping a more regular twice a week schedule. Least 'til December, when I go completely insane.

Cheers. Hack Hack.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


The Tom Waits show is tomorrow. We're gettin' prepared here at the Mountain. Thanks for the e-mails. It looks as if some industrious folks might have already set up a meeting place before the show here in Chicago at Hackney's (see the always fantastic Eyeball Kid for details). I'm a little peculiarized about the place they've chosen (great so bar), but I'll probably stop by. There's better Waitsian (whatever that is) bars in the area. Ah, well. A drink's a drink. If you happen to be at the Chicago show, or at the aforementioned Hackney's and happen to spot a feller with a John Deere hat and scraggly beard, say howdy. That'd be me, the walking cliche.

Speaking of bars, and cliches...that's a convenient lead-in to benders.

And Ray Price, of all people.

But benders first. There are quite a few perceptions of what constitutes a bender. For the best take on benders you'd do well to check out The Modern Drunkard (originating from my former home, Denver!). Me, I'm not so keen on the whole fraternal take on benders. Benders don't involve a group of buddies getting together and hitting some dive bars in an attempt to drink themselves silly, ostensibly cheering up or holding up a down in the dumps pal. While that's certainly a fine venture, and necessary at times, it's not really a proper bender. Not to take the romantic view of the enterprise, though, it's really more of a solitary pursuit. A bender isn't defined by time. It's not a one night affair, followed by a hangover and the sudden realization that life's going to be ok, and shit, shave, shower, and off to work. It doesn't involve trendy dive bars and joyous "this is for my friends" banter.

A bender is a lonely affair, where the supposed "friends" are shadows that come and go in reflection on the bar. Not measured in nights or days, but in shots and bills on the counter, it's a giving up more than a grab of desperation. All taking place in the darkest corners, where the neon is a hindrance rather than salvation, and where the one night binge teeters dangerously close to a lifetime of beer stained elbows.

In Chicago we have what are called "old Style Bars". They seemingly have no name, but for the Old Style sign in front. They're found in neighborhoods, as opposed to the downtown (NikeTown) areas, as all things unpleasant are forced farther and farther away from the tourist areas. The windows are dark and clouded, usually with bars or 3-inch thick glass. Slumming frat boys and hipsters are not particularly welcome, nor would they find the glamorous underbelly that Bukowskiites would lead you to believe actually exists. The patrons of these bars are not there to tell you their fascinating life story, nor does such a story exist. There are no rat packers or mumbling mad poets. Just drinkers. And forgetting.

None of that, of course, is in any way intended to represent Ray Price, the man or musician.

Price, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, had a pretty fascinating career, from hardcore country honkytonker and friend of Hank and Willie, to swank balladeering that suggested the beginnings of countrypolitan. It was Hank Williams who helped Price get his big break on the Grand Ole Opry, lending him the Drifting Cowboys as a backing band. Price's most well-known hit was "Crazy Arms", a certified classic, and template for future country styling, A great writer in his own right, Price was also a brilliant interpreter, making definitive renditions of songs by Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and Kris Kristofferson. In the late 60's Price all but abandoned the traditional country he so strongly influence, opting for variety, including string sections, blues and jazz based material, and neo-pop. Never one to sacrifice individualism for sales or expectation, Price played what he wanted, however he damn well wanted to play it.

Now what the hell do benders and Ray Price have to do with each other?

I've included two separate versions of Price's "Night Life". Both are distinctive, and I have different reasons for preferring each, at various times. The song itself, written by and performed singularly elsewhere by Willie Nelson, is the ultimate fuzzy neon lights and dirty glass ode to the lost. "City Lights", another Mountain favorite, carries a similar sentiment, and is a presceint tribute to a disappearing landscape. "I Can't Go Home Like This" is by no means an important entry in either Country's or Price's canon. But it's a fun little tune about the after-effects of a night spent out a little too late. Not a bender song, but a nifty little tippler, nonetheless.

When the evening sun goes down
You will find me hanging round
Oh, the night life ain't no good life
But it's my life.

Many people just like me
Dreaming of old used-to-be
Oh, the night life ain't no good life
But it's my life.

Well, listen to the blues they're playin'
Yeah, listen to what the blues are sayin'
Mine is just another scene from the world of broken dreams
Oh, the night life ain't no good life
But it's my life.

Yeah, when the evening sun goes down
You will find me hanging round
Oh, the night life ain't no good life
But it's my life...

Ray Price: Night Life (mp3)

Ray Price: Night Life (mp3)

Ray Price: City Lights (mp3)

Ray Price: I Can't Go Home Like This (mp3)

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Hey. If anyone's in town, or coming into town, for the big Tom Waits show (August 9th!!!), let me know ( I lack the funds and/or corporate sponsorship to host some kind of official Tom Waits pre-show party or whatnot, but I work right around the corner from the Auditorium Theatre and plan on having a few beverages at a nearby drinking parlour to be determined before the big event. Anyone who wants to join in and form a wee unofficial Waits-fest are welcome. Let me know, and I'll get some kind of announcement as the date nears.

Now. Mr. James Hand.

I had a really hard time narrowing down two songs from James Hand's album, The Truth Will Set You Free, to post here. So I cheated, and am giving you three. And, frankly, this is the second best album I've heard all year (more on ole number 1 shortly). I guarantee you're gonna see this album again on this site sometime in late December.

I've spent way too much time bemoaning the lack of great, classic, honky tonk country music being made in these here modern times. Sure, there's plenty of that there insurgent stuff filtering through the haze, some of which I'm quite keen on, but it often has too much of a nudge and wink, we're really punk rock but we like ol' Hank quality to it. Country as an excuse or a clever tool. Some of the current darlings of cares what that is) are so completely bland that they barely make for wallpaper. But James Hand....well, damn. No pretense, no irony, no sly slight of hand (hah! sorry). It's honky tonk country through and through. Perhaps it's his age (53), or four decades of working the bar'n'singing circuit. Regardless, Hand has laid down one of the finest country records I've heard in a long, long while. Writing about music always requires a modicum of hyperbole, but I'm not being coy about this one. This is the real deal, a genuine long player worthy of the wax (aluminum) it's pressed (lazered?) on.

A native Texan and horse trainer(?!?), Hand finely drags the soul of Honky Tonk out of retirement, taking a staid and cliche-ridden form and molding it into something both exciting and uniquely Hand's own. From the creepy, brilliant "Shadows Where the Magic Was", with the refrain "....who can tell what the devil does, when he walks on haunted ground" (Frank's Wild Years fans take note), to the barroom lament of "In the Corner, At the Table, By the Jukebox", and every point between, this album hits on every note, every twang, every lyrical device. If this album had been recorded 30 years ago, we'd be whispering Hand's name in the same sentence as Lefty, Merle and Willie. As it stands, it will probably be lost to diffusion of taste. A fucking shame, really. I'd stand on the streetcorner with a bullhorn if I thought it would send the masses in a frenzy on a James Hand binge. But it'd all be show for nought, alas. Country's not dead, folks, it's hiding. How to wake the sleeping beast, strip it of pretense, and into a new golden age? Well, that last sentence was ridiculous, but that's what Hand's album does to me, sends me shivering and frothing at the mouth. Just when I think country's died on us (skewered by the dreaded "Americana"), Hand redeems an entire genre. He's more than worth your time. I think the word essential is overused. I'm going to apply it, in any case, to Mr. James Hand. It fits.

James Hand: Banks of the Brazos (mp3)

James Hand: In the Corner, At the Table, By the Jukebox (mp3)

James Hand: Shadows Where the Magic Was (mp3)

As ever, when your penny jar gets full, please consider supporting your local, independent record stores. Or buy direct from the artist, or their website.