As if “Another Stoney Evening” and the recentC.S.N.Y. tour weren’t proof enough, here comes another reminder that David Crosby and Graham Nash are formidable performers in their own right.
Originally released in 1977, this reissue of “Crosby-Nash Live” captures the duo during some veryhot nights. They were accompanied by their band known as the Mighty Jitters. The Jitters featured superb musicianship from players who’ve graced countless albums during the past three decades.
Danny Kortchmar and David Lindley burn on guitars, while Russ Kunkel, Tim Drummond and Craig Doerge provide flawless support on drums, bass, and keyboards. Lindley, a master of all things stringed, also adds colorful flourishes on violin.
While Crosby and Nash are in fine form, there is a rawness to their vocals that adds to the intensity of the performances. The set neatly illustrates their ability to combine the political and the personal.
Crosby waxes philosophically on the pretty “Page 43”. Life goes by much too quickly, so we should drink it in, and revel in it. Nash connects with a trio of songs that rock with an intensity that brings to mind Neil Young. “Fieldworker” is a stinging indictment of the exploitation of farm workers. Graham went to the fields, and created a piece that captures their desperation, “Came across your border/just to work for you/give you all I got to give/what more can I do?” “Mama Lion” conveys a longing for spiritual relief: “There’s a hole in my destiny/and I’m out on the brink.” Like the previous tunes, “Immigration Man” is highlighted by Lindley’s piercing slide guitar. Considering the ongoing debates, the song’s subject is more timely than ever. Nash delivers a passionate plea for tolerance and acceptance.
The dreamscape of Crosby’s “Lee Shore” features an artful interplay of rhythm and melody. The idyll is tempered by restlessness, “Women are calling me to hear my tale/…perhaps I’ll see you/the next quiet place I furl my sail.” The set concludes with a stunning version of “Deja Vu”.
David and Graham have made their mark more than once. Their talents are considerable. Unconvinced? Buy this, then you’ll know.
Late For the Future
This is the third offering from the New Orleans funksters Galactic and they are more forceful in their love of grove than ever. Starting off the disc with a new arrangement of “Black Eyed Pea”, a band standard, and ending with the understated “Action Speaks Louder Than Words” the constant drive of bass and drums coupled with strong guitar accents and the rich, gritty sound of Theryl “Houseman” de Clouet’s vocals make this CD one psychedelic trip through funkytown. However, Galactic is not just a funk jazz band. Their style harkens back to that excellent time in pop rock when bands like Sly and the Family Stone and War were breaking the charts. Even the lyrics seem to come from a time before music became about misogyny and riots. Galactic is, indeed, late for the future, but as someone once said, “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”
The disc is produced, for people who notice these things, by Nick Sansano who has also worked with Sonic Youth and the Manic Street Preachers and he seems to have given Galactic a more open and playful sound on this production. A track of special note is “Vilified” which teams Houseman along with singer Theresa Andersson which yields some great duet work and their voices play off of each other like vodka and vermouth. Full of fabulous horn sections, strong guitar riffs and some true jazz experimentation, LATE FOR THE FUTURE is a good choice for any and of funk looking to expand their minds and their disc collection.
Inspite of Ourselves
THE ROBERT CRAY BAND
If you wallow on the polluted shores of the latest blatant, soulless, pop spunk, if you think that Tiffany was the be all and end all of modern culture. If you genuflect to the course gods screaming their penis size on the stages of endless KROQ Wennie Roasts. If you dance the Macarena, then probably these albums are not for you.
There is a small, mostly unacknowledged, underground, collective of folks surviving under the crushing wheels of the conglomerate music industry. Underrated heroes like Aimee Mann, Todd Rundgren and Jude may not be selling out The Pond, may not be household nmaes, may not be as readily bankable as, say Sugar Ray or Kid Rock, but they are surviving and, perhaps in the end, they will be remembered and praised for their integrity while mechanical, contrivances like the Backstreet Boys won’t even garner a footnote.
John Prine and Robert Cray are heroes. Though each of them chooses a different musical path, both are true to their convictions, their craft, and most importantly, the music.
John Prine is country. Listening to Prine youcan easily imagine where these songs originated. You can see the curved mirror behind the bar, the rows or colored glass bottles, the bar-keep with his dingy apron and bushy eyebrows, the sassy saloon girl at the edge or the stage. You can look past the seinging doors and see the vast uncharted land, the mountains, the dusty main street of the clapboard small town, the steepled chrch with it’s gabled eyes and gospeled tongue – the whitest and cleanist building in sight. (Maybe this wasn’t how it really was, but we all have different visions of history.)
Part of the charm of John Prine is that he, as a singer, is not note perfect. He has a flawed, cracked voice tha tadds to the sincerity of his songs. On IN SPITE OF OURSELVES he has superstar help from the likes of Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Trisha Yearwood (almost all of the songs are duets.) These are short songs, laced with humor, “No, we’re not the jet set…we’re the old Chevrolet set…” and bushels of heart. this collection was something of a labor of love, as Prine notes: :The songs here represent a small portion of my favorite country songs. I made a list of my favorite girl singers and the first nine I called said ‘yes’. I nearly fell over.”
Like Prine, Robert Cray has been performing for years, consistently putting out topnotch material. Unlike Prine, Cray’s work centers on the blues. The Robert Cray Band was initially formed in 1974 playing clubs and then The San Francisco Blues Festival in 1977. Hwever, CRay’s recording career didn’t actually start till 1980 with his dbut album WHO’S BEEN TALKIN’. HEAVY PICKS is retrospective that includes the Band’s juciest licks. sometimes the lyrics are a little simplistic – “…forecast calls for pain…” – but the sizzling attitude of songs like “Smoking Gun”, “Too Many Cooks”, “Consequences”, and “I Shiver” make this a serious must for collectors of the blues.
On a side note, Cray’s band is powerfully assisted by three red-hot rhythm groups: The Memphis Horns, Midtown Memphis Rhythm Section and The Miami Horns. They all help Cray seamlessly create an atmosphere of subtle menace.
HEAVY PICKS and IN SPITE OF OURSELVES – two excellent albums, two indispensable artists.