Mudlark rates highly on many a Kottke fan's favorite list. This was Kottke's Capitol Records debut, and his solo instrumental sound is augmented with the addition of studio sidemen (bass, drums, piano). His playing is superb (no surprise there) and full of youthful vigor – a fusion of high-speed picking, brash slide work, funky folk, acoustic rock, and melodicism. Most importantly, Mudlark marked the debut of Kottke as a singer, an indication that Capitol was trying to shoehorn him into the singer/songwriter genre. Kottke himself has made disparaging remarks about his own vocals, but they add personality to his virtuosic guitar chops.
The introspective scope of DeMent's first two records expands to tackle global topics like religion, sexual abuse and war on the tough-talking The Way I Should Be, a more rock-influenced offering including cameo appearances from Mark Knopfler, Lonnie Mack and Delbert McClinton (who duets on "Trouble").
When Count Basie returned to Verve Records in 1962, Neal Hefti was contracted to write the tunes and arrangements, a revival of their partnership from the 1958 Roulette LP Basie Plays Hefti. While none of these selections is as famous as his songs like "Cute," "Little Pony," "Splanky," "Li'l Darlin'," and "Repetition," the substantial originality of this music is hard to deny, not to mention that the expert musicians playing his music bring these tracks fully to life in a livelier fashion than most laid-back Basie studio sessions. In fact, it has the feeling of a concert date that trumps the more clean, controlled environment of a session that was recorded on a three-track reel-to-reel…
ONE WAY GLASS is a very different kind of RPM compilation. Instead of the usual cross-section of Sixties collectables, this unique 3-CD set takes a fresh look at British music from the late 60s through to the mid-70s, with an eye on overlooked dancefloor-friendly finds. The rhythmic backbone of One Way Glass lies in Progressive Rock outfits who - every so often - would emulate their jazz heroes and record funky sides tucked away on albums or B-sides. Many of these tracks (Jonesy, Hardin & York) have been known to collectors of Funky Breaks for years.
This is a good record, though not the Leo Kottke album to start with, as it is not representative of his usual work – it's mostly a vocal record, and a very country-flavored record at that, with Kottke's baritone, reminiscent in some ways of Leonard Cohen (and even moving into what one might consider Jim Morrison territory), serving as the dominant instrument on six of the ten tracks. His flashy 12-string playing and Cal Hand's Dobro do come to the fore on "Tilt Billings and the Student Prince." Tom T. Hall and Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels are among the songwriters represented. Among the intrumentals, "A Good Egg" is just the kind of light-fingered, light-textured virtuoso piece that one buys a Leo Kottke album expecting to find, and much of the rest shows off his talents in some unexpected directions. The sound on the One Way label CD reissue is first rate as well.
After a decade flirting with shoegaze and dream pop textures, Ulrich Schnauss has returned to his IDM roots with A Long Way to Fall. On his first album (fourth overall) under his name in six years, the German producer almost fully focuses on the synthesizer, nearly abandoning the layered fuzz and tempered haze of his last two solo releases, while eliminating the slow-burning, buried vocals of his work with Mark Peters and A Shoreline Dream. Stretching each song past the five-minute mark, Schnauss lets his work gestate on A Long Way to Fall, letting simple, sometimes nonexistent refrains repeat and recur until some sort of unshakable melody is revealed…
Released in conjunction in 2002 with the four-disc box set Walking to New Orleans, as well as three other titles in EMI/Capitol's Crescent City Soul series, The Fats Domino Jukebox: 20 Greatest Hits the Way You Originally Heard Them becomes the definitive single-disc Fats collection on the market nearly by default – it's remastered, it's the one in print, and it has a flawless selection of songs. It's not markedly better than, say, the '90s' definitive Fats compilation, My Blue Heaven, since it has essentially the same track selection and even if the tapes were restored to their originally running speed, the difference is not enough for most ears to notice, but it's still a great collection of some of the greatest music of its time, and it summarizes Domino's peaks excellently. So, if you don't already have a Fats Domino collection, this surely is the one to get.
After more than a decade of working, and largely owning, the Red Dirt country circuit in Texas and Oklahoma, the Turnpike Troubadours' moment of truth may be nearing. The hard-playing quintet's most recent LP, 2015's The Turnpike Troubadours, marked a true commercial breakthrough as it not only reached Number Three on the country charts, but even cracked the Top 20 of the Billboard 200. Now it's time for them to follow it up.