Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Long Time Now

The Rolling Stones are in town tonite. Yawn.

Bloated, meaningless bombast. One of my favorite bands...who haven't released, or done, anything relevant for thirty years. Gad. Ugh. I can't face a 15 minute "Satisfaction", when I'd rather be listening to some 14-year old kid beating out a shitty version of the song on his Sears guitar in his bedroom. Context, I guess.

Or I'd rather stay in and listen to the feller who's songs I'm presentin' for your enjoyment today.

Remember Will Oldham(Palace)'s album "Days In the Wake" (or Michelle Shocked's "Texas Campfire" thingy)? The way the voice hugged the microphone over the subtlest of strummed guitar. The (alledged) sounds of trucks and crickets and campfire crackles lending the proceeding an authentic rustic feel. Back porch music, I s'pose.

Cast King does 'em one up. Recorded in a shack up on Old Sand Mountain, Alabama by budding Harry Smith/Alan Lomax novice Matt Downer, the twelve tracks on Saw Mill Man are a revelation of lost America. King is no novice or practitioner of "naive" or outsider art. He's a 79-year old man who's played music all his life, led the band "Cast King and the Country Drifters", and had an 8-song recording session with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios.

Leaving the band and any attempts at a music career behind in the 60's, King, for all intents and purposes, disappeared. Until Downer, by luck or by design, tracked him down for an ongoing series of weekly "pickin'" sessions in that aforementioned shack.

The tracks from King's debut(!) album, Saw Mill Man, come from those sessions. Not so much produced, I'd guess, than just "leave the tape running and play", it's a fantastic, gritty portrait of an artist weary and traveled. Country in the most primitive of settings, but it's not rough, meaning not novice or backwoods in presentation. King's voice, Lee Hazlewood and Johnny Cash sharing a jug of moonshine, is strong, his playing assured. But it most certainly is not slick. Nope, back porch music (reminds of the early Fat Possum "rediscovered" Junior Kimbrough recordings countrified) the way god intended. As his bio indicates, "it's a revelation of self penned murder ballads, heartbreak songs and some of the finest drinking numbers you're likely to hear."

A nice contrast to the overbaked hoohaw going on elsewhere tonite. Think I'll just sit here and drink.

Cast King: Long Time Now (mp3)

Cast King: Numb (mp3)

Support your local record store.


Fire of lovE said...

Like it, gonna get that one !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I echo fire of love's sentiment. I will be finding this CD as well. Thanks for unearthing it for us.

mister anchovy said...

very compelling!

Chris said...

Thanks for this. I can't help but feel intrigued. The marketing for this album speaks for itself for any music lover: "first debut album at 79 years of age." I've ordered my copy already.