Sunday, January 14, 2018

Anderson East - Fulminate Start Into The New Year With "ENCORE" - Album Review

Anderson East's sophomore album "ENCORE" - released on Friday (1/12) - lives up to the expectations the title may suggest, it's a great follow up to his major debut "DELILAH." Miranda Lambert's new beau is suddenly all over the map, from NPR's First Listen to the HuffPost and he deserves it. He and producer Dave Cobb are setting a high standard, for what's coming out from the music city on the Cumberland, very early 2018. 

Even though Nashville-based, Alabamian Michael Anderson aka  East is not a country artist, the only thing remotely country is his romantical relationship and him covering Willie Nelson's 20-year old standout from "TEATRO" "Somebody Pick Up My Pieces." which with its background choir and arrangement sounds more Joe Cocker than the subdued Texas troubadour. Yes, Anderson digs deeper into the swampy soundscape, like a Delbert McClinton, a Tony Joe White or Irishman Van Morrison his music has no boundaries, he embeds Southern Soul, R&B, Gospel and even Pop into his oeuvre.
The folk-bluesy Ted Hawkins song, the funny "Sorry You're Sick," from the '82 debut album "WATCH YOUR STEP" with its lyrics:
What do want from the liquor store
Something sour or something sweet
I'll buy all that your belly can hold.
You can be sure you won't suffer no more.
now roars and make the offer to help out as a doctor even more insisting.

On six of the nine originals, East again partners with songwriter Aaron Raitiere, who now writes for producer Dave Cobb's stable, as does Adam Hood who appears as the third co-writer on "Surrender," a song that could be straight out of Ike and Tina Turner's songbook. 
Natalie Hemby, who had ten songs recorded by Lambert "FOR THE WEIGHT OF THESE WINGS" and released her own album 'PUXICO" last year, completes the trio on "This Too Shall Last" and "House Is A Building." latter a song that life is only complete when the partner is in it, where the house as a building becomes a home with feeling.
Old friend Chris Stapleton helped on the slow heartbreaker "If You Keep Leaving Me"/I keep loving you and he and his wife Morgane got together with Anderson to write "King For A Day" while they were on tour together. Even though not a boiler, the simmering piece with Stapleton as a guest on the six-string, is one of best songs on the album.
And even if your heart can't
Look my way
Even if our love can't
Stay together
I'd rather be king for a day
Than a fool forever 

"All On My Mind" was a sketch brought to East by Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid from Snow Patrol and that song does not fit on "Encore." With its lush strings and a subdued Anderson, it sounds like this is the one song the record label will push onto the radio to make Anderson East into the star they want him to be. He's better than that.
At the very end of the album is another outstanding, yet somber storyteller "Cabinet Door"; from the perspective of an elderly widower trying to cope with the loss of his wife, East and Jillia Jackson wrote a lyrical gem of how to try to cope with everyday life after your partner of many years has passed:
I found your old cook books but the biscuits ain't right
How do you work this damn coffee pot?
And all my shirt tails are wrinkled but the bed is still made
Cause your smell still lingers on where you laid

Again pairing with non-mainstream producer Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell) the album seems to have an organic feel to it, still embracing the tradition but with an updated more modern approach to it. Cobb was not only at the helm of the board, but also participated as a musician and a co-writer on "Girlfriend" with help from Swedish pop icon Avicii, Raitiere and East. With its infatuation lyrics and it's lush synth (Moog) sound, lusting after a friend's fiancee is a romp on the disc. Too bad he couldn't transfer that energy to the live performance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Brother, we might have a problem
Cause she’s staring me down and I’m tempted
And I ain’t going to say I’m sorry now
I think I’m in love with your girlfriend

****/***** 4/5

Anderson starts his tour behind "ENCORE" in Europe, so friends in the UK, Germany, and Sweden take notice. He will then come back and tour in the US, starting in Dallas in February. You find his touring schedule on his website.

JAN 24 - Omera - London, UK (sold out)
JAN 26 - Blaues Zimmer, Musik & Frieden - Berlin, D
JAN 27 - Nochtspeicher - Hamburg, D (sold out)
JAN 28 - Music Hall - Worpswede, D
JAN30 - Kagalbanan Soedra Teatern, Stockholm, S

Sources: Anderson East, NPR First Listen,

Friday, January 12, 2018

Ryan Bingham - Live From Texas - Album Review

"RYAN BINGHAM LIVE" is his first live album. Recorded at the Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas on August 6, 2016, this compilation only features part of that almost two-hour concert, which at the time was live-streamed on gaming platform Twitch in connection with Amazon - I blogged about it here. The whole concert is still available on Amazon Prime as a stream or as a video download. 

It seems that some versions (digital & CD) of this album were available through Amazon, but now have a national distributor in Thirty Tigers and added the LP format. The album is now also available on iTunes and Spotify.

The Oscar, Gloden Globe and Grammy winner, who came to prominence with his co-write of "The Weary Kind" with T-Bone Burnett for the 2009 movie "Crazy Heart" (which won Jeff Bridges also the Oscar for best actor) was touring behind his studio album "FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT," when he made his stop outside of New Braunfels.

Playing in front of a solid rhythm section, Nate Barnes on drums and Shawn Davis on bass, backed by guitarists Daniel Sproul and Jedd Hughes, latter also on mandolin and as special guest Richard Bowden (Maines Brothers Band, Austin Lounge Lizards) providing all those hot fiddle licks, Bingham went through 19 tracks in this almost two-hour show. Most hailed from his major 2007 debut "MESCALITO," including a great version of his single "Southside of Heaven." Four songs stem from "FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT" and two each from "ROADHOUSE SUN" and "JUNKY STAR."

Besides his album cuts Ryan also included covers by Townes Van Zandt "Pancho & Lefty," Guy Clark "Dublin Blues," and Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." It was really nice to see, Bingham including two songs of the then recently departed Clark and Haggard in front of such an enthusiastic crowd. Unfortunately, these cover versions are missing from the audio releases, as well as two "MESCALITO" compositions, the original opening song of the evening "Dollar A Day" and "Ever Wonder Why." Available though for the first time outside of the official soundtrack, is the above-mentioned theme song of the Grammy-winning movie "Crazy Heart," "The Weary Kind."

The clip below is from the live recording, the song "Radio" was originally released on "FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT."

Live-Concert ****(*)/***** 4.5/5
Audio products ***/*****3/5 (due to missing songs)

Sources: Amazon Concert Live Stream, Ryan Bingham, Releases.Red

Monday, January 8, 2018

Happy Birthday David Bowie - Let's Dance (Demo) released today

Original flyer for "Let's Dance"
Happy 71st birthday, David Bowie. 
To celebrate it right, record company, Parlophone, released the until now, unreleased, original demo for "Let's Dance" recorded in 1982 in Switzerland.

According to the press release from Parlophone, Nile Rodgers was visiting David at his home in Switzerland to talk about the songs which would be on his then-new album "LET'S DANCE"

Nile remembers: "This recording was the first indication of what we could do together as I took his 'folk song' and arranged it into something that the entire world would soon be dancing to and seemingly has not stopped dancing to for the last 35 years! It became the blueprint not only for Let’s Dance the song but for the entire album as well."

On a creative high and inspired by all the new compositions that Bowie had written, Nile and David decided to record some demos, but they had no band to do so. With the help of the late Montreux Jazz Festival, organizer "funky" Claude Nobs, they secured rock band Queen's Mountain Studio (now a museum) then still inside the Montreux Casino. Claude was also responsible to provide the duo with some additional musicians to record the demos. One was Turkish born Erdal Kizilcay, who would later work extensively with Bowie on "LABYRINTH" (86), "THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA" (93) and "1. OUTSIDE" (95).

Speaking of those early “Let’s Dance” pre-production sessions, Nile Rodgers commented: “I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career but my creative partnership with David Bowie ranks very, very, very high on the list of my most important and rewarding collaborations. This demo gives you, the fans, a bird's eye view of the very start of it! I woke up on my first morning in Montreux with David peering over me. He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, ‘Nile, darling, I think this is a hit!’"

So 35 years later Nile Rodgers and Russell Graham mixed the demo at Nile’s Le Crib Studios in Westport, Connecticut to be able to release the song demo for the first time.

By the way - the record company, not knowing who played drums and the 2nd guitar, is looking for the musicians that were involved in this legendary recording at Mountain Studios in Montreux, on December, 19th & 20th, 1982, engineered by the late David Richards, the famous Queen producer.
At the end of the track, Bowie’s voice can be heard laughing saying "That’s it, that’s it! Got it, got it!”. And Bowie was right, it became a huge hit all over the world.

Sources: David Bowie (flyer), Parlophone, Spotify