January 13: Johnny Cash recorded At Folsom Prison (album) in 1968

“Folsom Prison looms large in Johnny Cash’s legacy, providing the setting for perhaps his definitive song and the location for his definitive album, At Folsom Prison. The ideal blend of mythmaking and gritty reality, At Folsom Prison is the moment when Cash turned into the towering Man in Black, a haunted troubadour singing songs of crime, conflicted conscience, and jail.”
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)

One of the best live albums in recording history was taped on this date in 1968, hell, it’s one of the best albums period. Today it is it’s 48-year anniversary.

folsom

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January 11: Lyle Lovett released Pontiac in 1988

“The preacher asked her and she said, ‘I do’
The preacher asked me and she said, ‘Yes, he does too’
The preacher said, ‘I pronounce you 99 to life
Son, she’s no lady, she’s your wife.’ “

– Lyle Lovett (She’s No Lady)

“Writes like Guy Clark, only plainer, sings like Jesse Winchester only countrier.”
– Robert Christgau

“While Lyle Lovett’s self-titled debut album made it clear he was one the most gifted and idiosyncratic talents to emerge in country music in the 1980s, his follow-up, 1987’s Pontiac, took the strengths of his first disc and refined them, and the result was a set whose sound and feel more accurately reflected Lovett’s musical personality.”
– Mark Deming (allmusic)

This classic country album was Lyle Lovett’s second album, and to me it’s his best still. The Texas singer-songwriter uses the same elements that made his 1986 debut such a delight, dry humour, observational storytelling told in a personal and devastating way. Relationship stories as dark and as funny as they sometimes are…and with great singing and music.

Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris visits on this first of many masterpieces from Lyle Lovett.

Pontiac (official video):

The release date is uncertain, some sites said it was released in 1987, but most reviews started coming out  mid January 1988. Anyway that’s not the important part, what’s important is to celebrate a very fine album no matter if it was released December 1987 or January 1988.

– Hallgeir

January 11: Howlin Wolf released Howlin Wolf (album) in 1962

Howlin’ Wolf is the third studio album from Chicago blues singer/guitarist/harmonicist Howlin’ Wolf. It is a collection of six singles previously released by the Chess label from 1960 through 1962. This was a common practise at the time.

Because of the illustration on its sleeve, shot by Don Bronstein, staff photgrapher at Playboy magazine and house photographer at Chess Records, the album is often called The Rockin’ Chair Album, a nickname even added to the cover on some reissue pressings of the LP.

Howlin’ Wolf’s second album brings together some of the blues great’s best singles from the late ’50s and early ’60s. Also available as a fine two-fer with his debut, Moanin’ in the Moonlight, the so-called Rockin’ Chair Album represents the cream of Wolf’s Chicago blues work. Those tracks afforded classic status are many, including “Spoonful,” “The Red Rooster,” “Wang Dang Doodle,” “Back Door Man,” “Shake for Me,” and “Who’s Been Talking?” Also featuring the fine work of Chess house producer and bassist Willie Dixon and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Rockin’ Chair qualifies as one of pinnacles of early electric blues, and is an essential album for any quality blues collection.
– Stephen Cook (Allmusic)*

*= note that he concider it the second, not third, Howlin Wolf album. This is debateable since all the first three Wolf albums were released in 1962 (according to allmusic, but Wikipedia says that the debut was released in 1959), and it’s often hard to find the exact date of release of these recordings.
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Jan 10: Muddy Waters released “Hard Again” in 1977 – 40 years ago

…..Waters sings as though his life depended on it, Johnny Winter proves with every note how right he was to want to do this, and James Cotton–well, James Cotton doesn’t open his mouth except to make room for the harmonica, which sounds just great.
~Robert Christgau (robertchristgau.com)

This is Muddy Waters’ best “late” album.. Johnny Winter sure inspired the old blues legend to peak performance…. a wonderful record.

Mannish Boy:

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Classic song: The Promise by Bruce Springsteen

The Promise

The first time I heard The Promise (the song)  was when “18 tracks” was released in april 1999. I had read about it and had very high expectations, I was not disappointed. The 1999 release is great and it is a new recording of a song written much earlier. Bruce said he couldn’t find a version he liked enough to release on “Tracks” and re-recorded it for “18 Tracks”. This new recording had just Bruce Springsteen and his piano, and he does a toned down but intense version. The sombre  performance enhances the stark qualities of the song.

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Best Album 2016: The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

rolling-stones-blue-and-lonesome-artwork-1024x1024

The Rolling Stones released their latest album December 2nd 2016, their first album in over a decade is a return to the blues. It is a great blues album, and a tremendous return to form by The Stones.

The album is fresh and spontaneous and was recorded in just 3 days last December (2015) with co-producer Don Was. It really sounds like band enjoying themselves.

“This album is manifest testament to the purity of their love for making music, and the blues is, for the Stones, the fountainhead of everything they do.”
– Don Was

It’s a very good introduction to the blues, by a band who clearly pours their love into the songs. We’ve included the versions that are closest to the Rolling Stones’s takes on these songs. It isn’t always the original recording.

The entire list part 3, part 2, part 1

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