Sad Clowns & Hillbillies marks the first time in a decade that a John Mellencamp studio record finds him in the producer's chair. It's the first time ever that he's shared billing on an album cover. Carlene Carter is a singer/songwriter and music biz veteran; the daughter of country music royalty – Carl Smith and June Carter Cash – making her the stepdaughter of Johnny. She and Mellencamp worked together on 2012's Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, the musical theater project he scored for Stephen King; they collaborated further on the soundtrack for Ithaca – the "Sugar Hill Mountain" reprised here is one of a handful of excellent duets between them. Things don't begin well, however. Mellencamp's attempt at Mickey Newbury's "Mobile Blue" (from his classic 'Frisco Mabel Joy album) is utterly dull despite using a full band driven…
As a leader, guitarist, and composer John Scofield has made many different kinds of records over the course of his long career, as well as played on dozens more as a sideman to people like Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, to mention just two. His last offering, and his first for Emarcy, was This Means That, an adventurous blend of straight-ahead blowing and funk-oriented numbers that worked beautifully and yielded a slew of critical acclaim. Piety Street is a different story altogether. Scofield has assembled a crack band of more roots and groove-oriented sidemen to cut his version of a gospel album..
Elton John's Classic Album Selection (1970-73) box set is comprised of five of the music legend's most influential and critical acclaimed albums: Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Honky Chateau, and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player. These albums (now including selected bonus tracks) provided the backbone of Elton’s early career and were the source of a series of breakthrough hits which would propel him to become one of the most successful British artists of all time.
Although Orrin Keepnews' Riverside Records was primarily a jazz label, the company dabbled in blues in the 1960s – and one of the bluesmen who recorded for Riverside was John Lee Hooker. Recorded in 1960, this Keepnews-produced session came at a time when Hooker was signed to Vee-Jay. The last thing Keepnews wanted to do was emulate Hooker's electric-oriented, very amplified Vee-Jay output, which fared well among rock and R&B audiences. Keepnews had an acoustic country blues vision for the bluesman, and That's My Story favors a raw, stripped-down, bare-bones approach – no electric guitar, no distortion, no singles aimed at rock & rollers.