Wounded Heart - A Tom Russell tribute to Tom Russell

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6 Ago 2007, 16:33

3rd Coast Music August reviews Tom Russell's latest:

VA • WOUNDED HEART OF AMERICA; TOM RUSSELL SONGS
(Hightone ❀❀❀.5)

<snip>
The strength of this collection is that the 14 covers and four ‘bonus tracks’ are all songs by Tom Russell, the weakness is that he and Mark Hallman got to pick them, so, while I very much doubt that this was their intention, it reveals both sides
of his equivocal talent. Things gets off to a very good start, with Johnny Cash singing Veteran’s Day and Dave Alvin Blue Wing, both from Poor Man's Dream (Philo, 1990), but then comes Joe Ely’s version of the fatally flawed Gallo Del Cielo, from Heart on a Sleeve (End Of The Trail/Demon [UK], 1984), an absolutely masterful piece of lyrical craftsmanship with the minor drawback that it makes no sense whatsoever, and is, to put it mildly, politically and historically suspect.

In this instance, I actually don't care that Gallo Del Cielo is an historical fraud. The tune is catchy, and I love the counter-PC theme--sometimes the bandit fighting for the little guy is just a bandit. -jc

After that come both the high and low spots, Iris DeMent’s fabulous Acres Of Corn and Dave Van Ronk’s screechy Outcaste, both from the concept album The Man From God Knows Where (Hightone, 1999). Then comes Laurie Lewis’ Manzanar, from Box of Visions (Philo, 1992)...followed by Doug Sahm’s latter day SDQ cover of the splendid St Olav’s Gate, from
Heart On A Sleeve, Suzy Bogguss’ overbusy version of the excellent Outbound Plane, from Poor Man’s Dream, and, another high spot, Ian Tyson & Nancy Griffith’s terrific Canadian Whiskey, from Heart On A Sleeve. They’re followed by the inexplicable choice of Jerry Jeff Walker’s inept reading of Navajo Rug, from Poor Man’s Dream, which gives the impression that he didn’t really know or care what the song was about, rather than cowriter Ian Tyson’s infinitely superior version.

I heard Jerry Jeff Walker's version of Navajo Rug on KRFC-FM this morning. Conquest is right. It sucks. DJ Greg promised to play other cuts, too.

Quite what possessed Russell & Hallman to include Ramblin' Jack Elliott’s The Sky Above And The Mud Below, from The Rose of the San Joaquin (Hightone, 1995), I cannot imagine, but choosing The Texas Tornados’ version of Haley’s Comet, from Hurricane Season (Philo, 1991), rather than cowriter Dave Alvin’s, must have been pretty painful, as either way you’d get a great version of a great song. You have to give Russell points for having the legendary Lawrence Ferlinghetti on this album, and the maudlin Stealing Electricity does work much better as Beat poetry than it did as a song, on Love And Fear (Hightone, 2006). The VA portion of the program ends with...a new version of
Walkin’ On The Moon...recorded specially for this project, and while I yield to no one in my admiration for Eliza Gilkyson, the plain fact is that she doesn’t do this particular song as well as Katy Moffatt, or Sylvia Tyson come to that....

I do like Dave Alvin's version of Haley's Comet, even though I'm not a big fan of 50's rock-n-roll. Russell did a pop-on performance of Stealing Electricity when i saw him in St. Cloud last year. I can see it as Beat.

You get the idea. The reviewer has been in the business awhile, or at the edges of the Austin/3rd Coast scene anyways. He doesn't particularly care for the 4 Russell-done tracks on the compilation either.

Myself? I'm a Russell fan, mostly of the cowboy songs and the Americana ballads to the wide-open Rocky Mountain west. He can be annoying, and maybe he does take himself too seriously, but i take myself too seriously most of the time. So I'll likely put it on my wishlist, not the HighTone Records website pre-order (only $10.99!) bargain, no, not until after camping season bills are paid up. Come winter, though, certainly then.

-jc
Envíos aceptados
Bison, The Brotherhood, Americana

Comentarios

  • jcshepard

    damns with faint praise: [i]Tom Russell has long been recognized as a compelling songwriter. Over the years many of his peers recorded his work. This compilation grabs a representative cross section of that work while showcasing Russell's songwriting talent. Additionally. Russell contributes three tracks to the compilation. Track listing: Johnny Cash - Veteran's Day / Dave Alvin - Blue Wing / Joe Ely - Gallo del Cielo / Iris Dement - Acres of Corn / Dave Van Ronk - The Outcaste / Laurie Lewis - Manzanar/ Doug Sahm - St Olav's Gate / Suzy Bogguss - Outbound Plane / Ian Tyson & Nanci Griffith - Canadian Whiskey / Doug Sahm - Haley's Comet / Jerry Jeff Walker - Navajo Rug / Ramblin' Jack Elliott - The Sky Above / Lawrence Ferlinghetti - Stealing Electricity / Eliza Gilkyson - Walking on the Moon / Barrence Whitfield & Tom Russell - The Cuban Sandwich / Tom Russell - Who's Gonna Build Your Wall? / Tom Russell - Home Before Dark / Tom Russell - The Death of Jimmy Martin (Hightone)[/i]

    17 Ago 2007, 14:31
  • jcshepard

    damns with faint praise: [i]Tom Russell has long been recognized as a compelling songwriter. Over the years many of his peers recorded his work. This compilation grabs a representative cross section of that work while showcasing Russell's songwriting talent. Additionally. Russell contributes three tracks to the compilation. Track listing: Johnny Cash - Veteran's Day / Dave Alvin - Blue Wing / Joe Ely - Gallo del Cielo / Iris Dement - Acres of Corn / Dave Van Ronk - The Outcaste / Laurie Lewis - Manzanar/ Doug Sahm - St Olav's Gate / Suzy Bogguss - Outbound Plane / Ian Tyson & Nanci Griffith - Canadian Whiskey / Doug Sahm - Haley's Comet / Jerry Jeff Walker - Navajo Rug / Ramblin' Jack Elliott - The Sky Above / Lawrence Ferlinghetti - Stealing Electricity / Eliza Gilkyson - Walking on the Moon / Barrence Whitfield & Tom Russell - The Cuban Sandwich / Tom Russell - Who's Gonna Build Your Wall? / Tom Russell - Home Before Dark / Tom Russell - The Death of Jimmy Martin (Hightone) [/i] the weekly email does continue: [i]...The Russell tribute is pretty great. If Your Jester had to rank it purely on who recorded his songs, it is still a done deal, a must have. It is almost that listening to the performances is gravy. If nothing else, it reminds of an era of new discovery. Fortunately, Russell is a top notch songwriter and the performances are excellent.[/i] so internal consistency is overrated, draw your own conclusions. BTW- MOM reviews a new Beaver Nelson CD coming out. outa be fun.

    17 Ago 2007, 14:41
  • loureader

    Thanks. Will hunt for...

    20 Ago 2010, 1:48
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