Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm Bound To Leave
This Dark Behind

Happy New Year's Eve!

We're finishing up the Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 10 Albums of 2007 today. Wednesday, we'll list our favorite re-issues. Then it'll be back to "normal" round these parts.

Here ya go. 4 great albums (2 at #2 and 2 at #1)

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 10 (ish) Albums of 2007, Part 4

2. Mary Weiss: Dangerous Game

Weiss was the voice behind the best songs of The Shangri-Las. In a perfect world, that would be all you need to know. But, wait, there's more. The album was produced by Greg (Oblivian) Cartwright, and her backing band on this Norton release is Cartwright's own The Reigning Sound. Earlier this year we wrote about this album. Here's what we said:

Weiss has a voice that makes good boys squirm and nice girls say their prayers. It's been places you can only dream about, and there's kerosene in those pipes. She's still pissed, still been done wrong, and still not willing to sit back and take it. She's got what some would call an attitude problem. And we like it. Teenage riot in the adult world.

The Reigning Sound provide the perfect backdrop for Weiss' vocals. With Cartwright writing the bulk of the songs, the band layers on with organ drenched, tambourine shaking, rocknrollgaragepop. It's almost sunny, a perfect summer album for the newly broken-up and lovelorn, with a noirish heartbeat. It's as if the past 40 years were compressed, and Weiss picks up right where she left off, all rebellion and shimmering chrome.

Mary Weiss: Cry About The Radio (mp3)

Mary Weiss: Heaven Only Knows (mp3)

2. Bettye LaVette: The Scene Of The Crime

Bettye LaVette's history and troubles with the music industry are well documented. She's been wronged, fucked over, and neglected for decades. But she's back, with a big middle finger. Few Soul voices resonate with the depth of LaVette's, a lived-in, club-tested powerhouse of hurt and defiance.

The Drive-By Truckers, of all bands, provide the backing on this record, with production by the Truckers' Patterson Hood. What seems like a horrendously bad idea turns out to be a genuine masterstroke. The Truckers leave behind the Southern rock to turn in a gloriously funky and slinky take on the Muscle Shoals sound, the "scene of the crime" referenced by the album's title. Better yet is the god-kissed electric piano work of the legendary Spooner Oldham, who imbues the proceedings with the very heart of Soul.

The real star, of course, amidst all the goings-on is LaVette, who howls, growls, and purrs her way through these songs of life and redemption.

Bettye LaVette: Before The Money Came (mp3)

Bettye LaVette: I Guess We Shouldn't Talk About That Now (mp3)

1. Porter Wagoner: Wagonmaster

Porter died this year. Between the losses of Wagoner and Hank Thompson, Country and Western's star grew a little dimmer.

What stings most about Wagoner is that he was back, and back in a big way, gifting us with the best Country album of the year.

Produced with love by Marty Stuart, "Wagonmaster" swung wide the honky-tonk gates, unleashing an Okie jamboree of hillbilly goodness. All the usual suspects are present: Rubber Room-style madness, cheating, loving, road trips, instrumental breakdowns and vocal hoe-downs, peculiar neighborhood characters, gettin' above your raisin', god and the devil. And death.

Wagoner's voice is slightly more fragile than memory serves, but his rich timbre finds a way through, and his phrasing is as impeccable as ever.

Before his death Wagoner gave us the greatest gift of all, a perfect honky-tonk record, a rarity in this day and age. Like last year's Mountain favorite, James Hand, Wagoner takes the whippersnappers and the pretenders out to the woodshed and lays on some heavy learnin' to their backsides.

Porter Wagoner: Be A Little Quieter (mp3)

Porter Wagoner: My Many Hurried Southern Trips (mp3)

1. Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs: You Can't Buy A Gun When You're Crying

And then, at last, is Miss Golightly, with our very favorite album of the year. Here's what we wrote when the album came out, lo these many months ago:

Golightly has always flirted with a little neo-noir Country styling, and this record seems inevitable. It's a sepia-filtered affair, drawn from a Southern Gothic that could only be imagined by a girl from a faraway land. Creaky and rattling, the tunes play from the back of a wagon, straw and hayseed clogging the amps. It's an eerie backwoods-styled album full of bad men and badder women, demons, devils, guns, and medicine water. And it features my song of the year, "Devil Do".

That pretty much sums it up, and finishes up our year.

Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs: Devil Do (mp3)

Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs: Crow Jane (mp3)

Thanks for sticking with us this year, through the drinking songs and site hijackings, and whatnot. We'll try to do better next year.


Beth said...

Lovely job. Been a pleasure to have your company this year; here's to more good times in 2008.

torch1971 said...

great job this year, have loved it all, critical commentary/reviews, best of all.
btw, what happened to the last 2 posts for Barstool Mountain (Christmas eve and New Year's eve), something about hijacked?

Mark P said...

Many belated thanks for a great year and those wonderful holiday postings both here and over at Barstool Mountain (which were second to none).