SWAMP DOGG/Total Destruction to Your Mind: The original classic Swamp Dogg that set the standard and the pace for what would follow. Little Jerry Williams was having a melt down but still had to shake his money maker. The generation gap was widening and the cities were burning. Funkadelic had yet to launch maggot nation. What to do? Williams became Swamp Dogg down in Macon and came out with a set that bridged both sides of all the gaps that were widening and served up a funk, rock, political tour de force like no one had ever seen before. And it wound up on Elektra which had transitioned from being a folkie label to a rock label in the wake Doors success but now had to fill that widening gap. They certainly get points for being the one to take a chance on this. Dead solid perfect outsider music loaded with elements that would soon become mainstream and not be fully recognized until many years later when sampled on records routinely selling over 10 million copies. This is one of the top reasons to go digging in the old school crates. Still as wild now as it was then.
SWAMP DOGG/Rat On!: The original Macon sessions for this set were scraped and the date was moved to Muscle Shoals to be mid wifed by those funky white boys that knew their way around soul. The Muscle Shoals gang tried to keep it commercial but Dogg had other ideas, and he certainly made a set that stood out. A stand out example of outsider soul wielding a political cudgel full of lyrics that made you wonder what that was. Wild stuff that anyone who was never impressed with the top 40 of any genre will know was made for them. And it only took 40 years for them to find it. Another wild ride loaded with moves Swamp Dogg would never made as unbridled again.
CAITLIN ROSE/The Stand In: Another of the new crop of Nashville women that were still watching cartoons when Garth Brooks was hitting his stride and grew up on the rocked up sound he brought to Nashville as well as their own riot grrl stars. A lyrically dense and true set that cuts to chase and the heart of the matter, this is a shining example of rocked up country for a country side that's been taken over by strip malls.
CHICHA LIBRE/Cuatro Tigres: Normally, we'd overlook an ep but this is from our world wise pals at Barbes, it's an established group and the psychedelic chicha take on The Simpsons theme is a hoot. It' a special for record store day on 4/20 and you should give it a look see if you want to hear what they do to the Clash as well.
BETWEEN THE LINES
ALON NECHUSHTAN/Tribal Fire: As artsy as anything ECM could have come up with when trying to coax the various members of Oregon to take it to the limit, this music is actually inspired by art coming from a place where improv and chops nestle comfortably but aren't in the business of making anything easy for anybody. Sunday afternoon music for eggheads that favor library recitals and culty cliques, it's music that makes you pay attention.
MIRA MODE ORCHESTRA/Restless City: A bunch of youngish cats from Germany and Norway give us a smart take on the Euro version of the jazz orchestra. Sounding like a much bigger crew than they are, this set is edgy and pretty at the same time. Loaded with surprises fueled by sensitivities and sensibilities that aren't usually in traditional American jazz, this is a nice ear opener and front row seat at good things to come. Certainly for the left leaning jazzbo looking for a sitting down jazz experience that feels anything but sedentary. Check it out.
BRAD VICKERS & HIS VESTAPOLITANS/Great Day in the Morning: If Holy Modal Rounders weren't on drugs and knew how to play their instruments, there's a good chance they would have sounded like this bottleneck guitarist and his pals. Produced by Dave Gross, who showed up with several of his sidekicks to add to the proceedings, this amalgam of blues, hokum and roots music shows that you can learn a thing or two by being on a few Grammy winning late period recordings by the old masters. So enjoyable and easily accessible, you won't believe how quickly this 21st century Leon Redbone grows on you. Simply fun stuff any muso that likes to run off the beaten track will love.
MORNINGBELL/Boa Noite: Long time underground malcontents merge trippy with bombast as they face adulthood singing about sex, time and death. Anyone hip to their malcontent ways will dig the next chapter in their oeuvre, the uninitiated be might head faked by the intoxicating stoner sounds that seem warmly inviting to the outsider in the younger ranks.
BILLY JOE SHAVER/When I get My Wings-Gypsy Boy: Was Gypsy Boy really such a bad album? Nah. Capricorn had just switched distribution from WB to Polygram and Polygram was pressuring them to come up with numbers on acts beside the Allmans. Brian Aherne, who was riding high at the time, was brought in to produce. He brought a bunch of Emmylou cronies with him. It didn't click. Hell, as great a writer as this poet of the common man is, his voice and act didn't fit the format and unless you were willing to nurture his audience into the fold, you were going to be stuck with his rabid cult for his side as a performer. Telling Billy Joe what to do is like telling his hitch hiking compadre, Townes Van Zandt, what do to. Meanwhile, while he might not have been the best fit for Capricorn, who gave him a deal since the Allmans had cut two of his songs to good effect, it left behind two albums full of classic writing. Killer stuff by an American classic for any fan of great songwriting.
Volume 37/Number 151
April 1, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
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