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SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2005

 

     
 

 
WILLIE NELSON


YES


THE JONES GANG

 
WIGWAM
 
THE ELECTRIC PRUNES
 
RY COODER
 
     
 

WILLIE NELSON
Countryman
(Lost Highway)

With his chameleon like musical personality, Willie Nelson could sing old Jewish folk songs and it would sound great! Instead, with it’s ganja leaf cover art, Countryman features Willie and a solid band offering up a unique reggae-flavored country pop blend that’s simply irresistible. Actually, the Countryman set dates back to a shelved late ‘90s album slated for release on Island. Fast forward to 2004 when the album was finally mixed and the net catch is a CD long time Willie watchers and newbies will dig. As usual Nelson’s guitar work is rock solid and abetted with top producer Don Was, Willie aligns well with a solid crew including a number of guitarists, including Robby Turner (steel guitar, dobro) Dan Bosworth and co-producer Richard Feldman. On this funky collision of country, reggae, soul and hillbilly music, Willie spins his tales of good lovin’ gone bad and his voice still has that of so effective tone. Countryman is better therapy than drowning heartaches in your beer! Let’s hope Willie gets some top grade organically grown sweet leaf for his next birthday! Willie watchers will want to check out a pair of recent DVDs. A 103 minute DVD released by Eagle Vision, Outlaws And Angels finds the country rock legend in concert with friends in L.A. in 2004, appearing alongside Keith Richards, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Toby Keith, Carole King, Joe Walsh, narration by James Caan and more. The 2005 2+ hour DVD release of Songs For Tsunami Relief was organized by Willie and features him rocking out in concert performing some of his greatest hits on Sunday January 9 2005 with Patty Griffin, Lukas Nelson, Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo and more on Nelson’s charity drive from Austin To South Asia... www.willienelson.com

 


 
 

YES
Songs From Tsongas
(Image Entertainment)

Celebrating 35 years of great music, Songs From Tsongas: Yes 35th Anniversary Concert features the core Yes lineup of Jon Anderson, Alan White, Steve Howe, Chris Squire & Rick Wakeman live in concert performing an array of fabled songs from the band’s repertoire. Filmed live in concert in May 2004, the double disc, 3 hour set on Image Entertainment, is broken into two distinct parts. DVD one rocks out with some rarely heard Yes concert pieces such as “Sweet Dreams” (from Time & A Word) and “Mind Drive (Parts 1, 2 &3)” from their unjustly maligned mid ‘90s CD Keys To Ascension. The second DVD features acoustic Yes performing nearly unplugged versions of “Wondrous Stories”, “Time Is Time”, a jazzy, bluesy version of “Roundabout” and Howe’s solo piece “Second Initial”, played during a stage adjustment. Following Howe’s solo piece, electric Yes returns for more prog-rock classics including “And You And I”, “Rhythm Of Love”, “Ritual” (from Topographic Oceans), “Every Little Thing” (from their ‘69 Yes debut), before closing things out with “Starship Trooper.” Expertly filmed and superbly packaged with prominent Roger Dean graphics—with bonus tracks including extensive interviews—Songs From Tsongas is the ultimate concert DVD package from the band that originated progressive rock. www.image-entertainment.com


 
  THE JONES GANG
Any Day Now
(AAO)

Assisted by his former band mates in The Small Faces—Ian MacLagan and from The Faces, Ronnie Wood (Woody also designed the cover art)—drumming ace Kenny Jones revives the pop sound he helped to pioneer in the ‘60s. The song “Mr. Hart” would have made a perfect paisley pop Small Faces hit—I can just picture Steve Marriott and tearing it apart. Commanding this first Jones Gang CD, Jones is ably assisted by bassist Rick Wills and singer Robert Hart, who belts it out in the spirit of Faces singer Rod Stewart. With the Gang’s guest guitarists including Wood, Dave “Buckett” Colwell, Gary Grainger and Richie Barrett, Jones Gang gets it right more often than not on a CD that rekindles the best elements of ‘60s Brit-pop and early ‘70s stadium rock. www.jonesgangmusic.com

 


 
  WIGWAM
Some Several Moons
(
Major Léiden)

Moving to Helsinki from London back in the mid ‘60s, Jim Pembroke became situated as one of a select few of first class U.K. rockers to move their talents to the continent. Pembroke’s amazing songs, vocals, lyrics and production has graced many fine rock records to come out of Finland and even Sweden. Now 35 years after his early recordings with Blues Section and Wigwam, Pembroke & Co. have recorded and released another brilliant new studio album in 2005. Entitled Some Several Moons, the eleven track CD keeps that patented Wigwam album from their Love and Virgin records years. One song in particular entitled “Deep Pop (Before The Only One Comes)” is among the most effective songs among the many great ones Jimbo’s written in 30 years. Not enough can be said of the great guitar work from Jim’s long time Wigwam bandmate and song co-writing partner, Pekka “Rekku” Rechardt not to mention a top performance from original Wigwam bassist Mats Hulden. Also in this 2005 lineup is drummer... and the great Finnish New Age keyboardist and composer Esa Kotalainen, who rocks on with Jimbo and the boys. Killer cover art from Cady Pembroke tags this art as kind of a laid back set ranging from sonic prog-pop to a more country inspired Dylan & The Band kind of vibe that Pembroke excels in. Maybe one day Wigwam’s deep pop will find the wider audience they deserve, though time is running out. http://members.surfeu.fi/mmerilai/wigwam/

 


 
  THE ELECTRIC PRUNES
California
(Prune Twang)

I can remember grooving to “I Had Too Much To Dream”—the great ‘60s hit single from The Electric Prunes. Lo and behold, three decades later the original band has reformed for a 2004 studio CD called California - A Sonic Landscape. Described as containing ‘13 new intellectual tunes designed for stimulation, a snootful of tremolo, fuzz beyond fuzz and all,’ California is a brilliant return to form from a band that became synonymous with late ‘60s psychedelia. Featuring album concept and production from original Prunes’ James Lowe (vocals) and Mark Tulin (bass) (and a guest appearance from Peter Lewis of Moby Grape), California also features original lead guitarist Ken Williams. Featuring a stunning selection of whirling, studio wizardry—complete with ultra-psychedelic cover art—California will make you tune in, turn on and drop out! For a vintage reminder of the Prunes power as a live group check out their critically acclaimed reissue CD on Byrdman Records entitled Stockholm ‘67, featuring the great “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)”. www.electricprunes.net



 
  RY COODER
Chávez Ravine
(Nonesuch)

I don’t speak the Spanish lingo well, but Ry Cooder’s 2005 CD, Chávez Ravine is filled with the greatness that made him such an icon of the electric guitar. For among the several English vocals, Cooder and company tackles the 1962 Beatles chestnut “Three Cool Cats”, which was actually written in 1953 by Leiber / Stoller and is also associated with L.A. jazz pianist Hampton Hawes. A great crew assist Cooder on his Spanish and World Beat music flavored set including George Harrison’s drummer of choice Jim Keltner, Cooder’s son Joachim Cooder, Hawaiian guitarist Led Kaapana and vocalist Little Willie G. and his great singing on “3 Cool Cats”. All kinds of outside pop culture eclectica like that abounds throughout Cooder’s latest treasure chest of Latino pop-rock magic. www.nonesuch.com






 
 
 
   
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