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Probably About Time For Some Blue Collar CD Reviews!
By Mick Polich - 05/28/2009 - 09:44 AM EDT

Probably about time for some more album reviews, don’tcha think?

Doesn’t matter, ‘cause I’m doing them anyway!

The Rhythm Devils, “The Apocalypse Now Sessions” (Ryko): So, I’ve seen bits and pieces of  the movie “Apocalypse Now” enough times to qualify me as seeing as a whole. But lately, I’ve gotten re-introduced to the one of the soundtrack CDs, as headed up by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. The music is a fascinating pastiche of world-beat drumming and poly rhythms mixed with Hendrixian electric guitar moans and squeals, pre-dating a lot of common music mixes that we find today in world music. More heralded now than back upon its release, “The Rhythm Devils” shows the power of the right music when married into film. Mickey Hart and the gang show deft arranging skills, and once you watch the movie,the music works its magic well.

Buddy and Julie Miller, “Written In Chalk” (New West): One of the best alt-country singer -songwriter/guitarists, and his equally talented songwriter/singer wife, come up aces with one of their most soulful, heart-rendering albums in years. “Don’t Say Goodbye”, a ghostly, tear - wrenching ballad sung by Julie, is one of the duo’s starkest, yet beautiful songs in years. “Gasoline And Matches” is a rocker, barn –burning its way thru with clever wordplay, and so straight forward in production that I can see the VU meters on the mixing board jump into the red with delight. ”What You Gonna Do Leroy” has Buddy and guest vox Robert Plant happily slopping along to the old Mel Tillis tune. Recorded at the Miller’s home studio, ”Written In Chalk” moves deeply, and swiftly, and let’s us know that life can be raw, naked, emotionally attached, and very cold at any given moment.  Which is the exact reason that I’ve been endeared to the Miller’s music for more than a decade now.

Neko Case, “Middle Cyclone” (Anti): as I type this review, I’m listening again to Neko Case’s new haunting, yet accessible collection of folk/rock/pop.

Always the experimenter, Neko draws on creative arrangements via acoustic guitar, cello, ’light’ to alt-rock rhythm section, music boxes, ‘piano’ orchestras, and ‘found’ recorded sounds(“Marais La Nuit” is over 30 minutes of outdoor sounds from her pad). Fun, intricate, deep, and moving at points, “Middle Cyclone” puts Neko Case square on the path of a music force to be reckoned with for years.  

Van Morrison, “St. Dominic’s Preview”/”Astral Weeks” (Warner Brothers): I’ve finally figured out what everyone else has known for a long time – yes, Van Morrison is the blackest white Irish singer on the planet (sorry, Bono), and his vocal approach is like a great tenor sax player – long, flowing streams of improvised heaven that scats, honks, and screams what it needs to get the message across. As per me, I’ve taken the long way around to get to some of Van’s music. The ‘hits’ I’ve enjoyed forever, but to get to Van the singer, Van the songwriter, Van the musician who sings and plays from a source deep within OUT to us, the receptors, that’s taken to this point. “Astral Weeks” just beams with longing spirituality and sensuality - one of the most complete albums of humanity of that decade.

“Country Club” – John Doe and the Sadies ( Yep Roc): Two of my favorite left-of-center acts, with a history of rock, country, punk, and whatever other genre they want to throw into the soup mix, John Doe, The Sadies, and a few guest stars cover some classic ‘countrypolitian’ songs from back in the day. The results are smooth as good scotch, and fun as a small town bluegrass jamboree on a Saturday afternoon. I would like to hear more of what John Doe could do with ‘period’ country pieces, say the 1970’s ‘outlaw’ era or even flying back to some 1950’s pieces ala Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, or Hank Snow. But this collection does nicely, as I imagine myself cueing this up on a jukebox while sitting at the local VFW bar on a Sunday night, a cold Schlitz in front of me(a tribute to a few of my long-gone uncles), and digging the vibe of what country music was up to about 35 to 40 years ago.

Well, there you have it – kind short and sweet. Now, I’ll open it up to the floor: in the future, anyone who has any CD’s, downloads, or DVD reviews that they would like to submit for the ol’ Blue Collar blog, please do so.

Over the past few months, some of my favorite resources for finding out about new music releases have gone by the wayside. I know there’s a ton of stuff out on the web, and if anyone has a good site to visit, please let me know. The more eclectic, the better!

Take care of yourselves, thanks for letting me ramble, and support local music venues and especially, the last remaining diehard record shops!


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