Shot Of Rhythm

[ Saturday, March 25, 2006 ]


We tip our hat

Buck Owens, legendary country musician, died yesterday. Owens was not only one of country music's best, but also one of its true originals, fearlessly refusing to deny how much R&B, rock and roll and pop music informed the chugging "Bakersfield Sound" that he and his mighty Buckaroos helped to define. Even after his musical right-hand man (and partner in close harmony) Don Rich died in the late-1960s, Buck continued to make interesting, memorable and even difficult records up through the 1970s. (He also starred on HEE-HAW, which is another story.)

Anyway, here's my humble tribute to a true great. May he rock and roll up to Honky Tonk Heaven, and may Don Rich be waiting to sing those glorious harmonies again...

I picked four Owens originals, plus four covers from across the musical spectrum. I'm a particular fan of what he does with "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Love Minus Zero/No Limit," which display his underappreciated vocal skills.

Buck Owens and his Buckaroos - "Act Naturally"

Buck Owens and his Buckaroos - "Love's Gonna Live Here"

Buck Owens and his Buckaroos - "Cryin' Time"

Buck Owens and his Buckaroos - "It Takes People Like You (To Make People Like Me"

Buck Owens and his Buckaroos - "Save The Last Dance For Me"

Buck Owens and his Buckaroos - "Johnny B. Goode"; live in London

Buck Owens - "Love Minus Zero/No Limit"

Buck Owens - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

By the way, I'll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of our unfortunate recent obligation, a tribute to recently-departed songwriter Cindy Walker. So keep those flags at half-mast...

On the box right now: Buck Owens and his Buckaroos, VERY BEST, VOLUME 1.


Dove With Claws [12:58 PM]

[ Thursday, March 23, 2006 ]


New release round-up, 3/21/06

Four tracks from four new releases:

-First is Prince, whose 3121 sounds like his best in years. This is my current favorite track off the record (just beating out close-second "Black Sweat"), a nice little piece of funky gospel that reminds us all just how fantastic His Purple Highness can be.

Prince - "The Word"

-Next is Tom Russell. One of those bubbling-under cult acts whose last couple albums are making a serious run at widespread critical adulation, Russell's latest is the album that Rodney Crowell should have made last time out. I like Crowell a lot, but Rodney's last record didn't have a single song this good on it. (Dig Gretchen Peters, a great singer/songwriter in her own right, on the background vocals.)

Tom Russell - "Stealing Electricity"

-Loose Fur is the side project of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche, plus well-traveled alt-rock session man Jim O'Rourke. While their first album was hipster wankery of the highest order, their latest effort is basically like a new Wilco album, as tuneful and interesting as A GHOST IS BORN and home to a few songs - particularly "The Ruling Class" - that are as memorable as anything Tweedy has come up with in some time.

Loose Fur - "The Ruling Class"

-Finally, Ben Harper, whose new double-disc BOTH SIDES OF THE GUN is not the masterpiece that some are calling it (hello, Rolling Stone), but which - like all of Harper's records - contains a few great, genre-bending tracks. While Harper's albums have yet to reach the power of his live shows (which are honestly some of the best in the business), there are always a few tracks that hint at his potential. This is undoubtedly the closest he gets on the new album.

Ben Harper - "Better Way"

On the box right now: Millie Jackson, TOTALLY UNRESTRICTED: ANTHOLOGY, Disc 2. Why this woman isn't a household-name legend is beyond me. Maybe it's all the F-words...


Dove With Claws [9:20 PM]

[ Monday, March 20, 2006 ]


Punk rock

In honor of the Sex Pistols' refusal to participate in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, here are three examples of how we oughta define punk rock.

-First is one of the best tracks from one of the most unhinged live performances ever laid on wax. By this point, Jerry Lee wasn't doing much of anything on the charts, so "The Killer" (backed by The Nashville Teens) let every damn thing hang out on this one. The whole album - LIVE AT THE STAR CLUB - is a stunner.

Jerry Lee Lewis - "Long Tall Sally" live at Star Club, Hamburg, 1962

-Next is a live cut from 1969 featuring one of the few performers who can equal Jerry Lee's intensity. The "Wicked" Pickett and his band take "Land of 1,000 Dances" - not a slow song to begin with - at about 500 miles an hour. Maybe they were pulling out all the stops to get those Swedes funky. Or maybe they just wanted to go home. Good gawd!

Wilson Pickett - "Land Of 1,000 Dances"; live in Sweden, 1969

-Finally, here's a new track we've discussed before on here. This is Gnarls Barkley - a.k.a. Cee-Lo and DJ Danger Mouse - having at a nice, faithful cover of Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone." I've heard other stuff from their upcoming album, all of which is good and none of which sounds like this, so who knows what other surprises they'll have for us.

Gnarls Barkley -"Gone Daddy Gone"

On the box right now: Pretenders, PRETENDERS.


Dove With Claws [7:30 PM]