thu 25/05/2017

Americana

Bob Dylan, Wembley Arena review - mannered vocals, poor sound, upsetting

I’ll never forget the first time: Saturday 17 June, 1978, Earls Court. The concert lives on in my mind’s ear still – those not fortunate enough to be there should listen to Live at Budokan (on which, that autumn, in Liverpool’s Probe Records, I...

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CD: John Mellencamp - Sad Clowns & Hillbillies

The 23rd studio album from the artist formerly known as John Cougar was originally destined to be a religious album, but the songs he and Carlene Carter wrote turned out to be not quite so God-fearing as all that, though there’s certainly a...

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Reissue CDs Weekly: Brinsley Schwarz

In the second week of September 1979, Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” entered the Top 40. A month later, it peaked at number 12. The commercial success was belated validation for a song with a history. In May 1978, an earlier version was the B-side...

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CD: Ray Davies - Americana

From Muswell Hillbilly to Beverly Hillbilly, Ray Davies – Sir Ray – has long been infatuated with America and it must have been a great disappointment when the Kinks were banned from touring there in the mid-1960s. Then in the 1970s and Eighties...

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John Mayall, Ronnie Scott's

It’s a while since John Mayall last played Ronnie Scott’s, and the six shows this week didn’t begin to accommodate his many fans. The line to get in on Tuesday started a long while before show-time, and those who turned up hoping for returns will be...

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CD: Imelda May - Life. Love. Flesh. Blood

As Imelda May releases her fifth CD, it can’t but help that Bob Dylan has come out as a fan – it was, she wrote, "like being kissed by Apollo himself". No doubt his buddy T Bone Burnett passed him a copy of the album, for he produced it in Los...

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Sunday Book: George Saunders - Lincoln in the Bardo

George Saunders has written a historical novel. Of course, this being Saunders, author of four volumes of dystopian short stories about contemporary America (the wonderful Tenth of December is the most recent), it’s unlike any other. This is a tale...

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CD: Alison Krauss - Windy City

An album to please old fans and make new ones, Windy City is a peach – even at first playing it feels like slipping in to a worn-in pair of jeans or boots, a comfy ol’ fit. And that’s because the songs are country classics and in our musical DNA....

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Tom Waits: Tales from a Cracked Jukebox, BBC Four

“I’m not necessarily the ‘I’ in my songs” declared Tom Waits in James Maycock's documentary, its title a tipping of the proverbial hat to another artist who, in his 69 years on earth, inhabited many roles.Tom Waits has mostly kept journalists at arm...

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Josh Ritter, St Stephen's Church

The only British gig in Josh Ritter’s so-called work-in-progress tour took place in the somewhat unlikely venue of St Stephen’s Church, Shepherd’s Bush, a rather fine example of gothic revival style. It’s almost opposite Bush Hall, which would have...

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CD: Ryan Adams - Prisoner

Ryan Adams’s 16th solo album since he debuted in 2000 with Heartbreaker reveals many influences, including AC/DC and the Electric Light Orchestra - notably on the opening track and single, “Do You Still Love Me”, where keyboards are to the fore. But...

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Albums of the Year: Dolly Parton - Pure & Simple

The unsinkable Dolly Parton turned 70 in 2016 and the new year marks the 50th anniversary of her debut album, Hello, I’m Dolly. Pure & Simple is her 43rd studio album, its genesis a brace of stripped-down concerts given at Nashville’s Ryman...

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