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30 Best live albums countdown: 29 – Waiting for Columbus by Little Feat

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At number 29 in my countdown of the 30 best live albums in history, I have chosen Waiting for Columbus by Little Feat.

Many considered Little Feat to be over their golden age by 1977, but I think this live album shows them wrong. This is a band at its peak!

Willin’ 1977, Rockpalast:

Waiting for Columbus is the first live album by the “swamp rock” band, Little Feat. The album was recorded during seven performances in 1977. The first four shows were held at the Rainbow Theatre in London on August 1–4, 1977. The last three shows were recorded in George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium on August 8–10 that same summer in Washington, D.C.

Little Feat Waiting 2

The band was backed by the Tower of Power horn section with whom they had recorded in previous studio sessions. And they really fill out the sound!

Dixie Chicken (w/Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Jesse Winchester):

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Billy Bragg goes twang with his new song No One Knows Nothing Anymore

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We saw Billy Bragg do a very fine solo set in Oslo last summer, he hasn’t mellowed too much. He is still the workingman’s troubadour. While that is certainly true, he has always had the melodies, he is a great tunesmith and a folksinger in the truest sense.

Now he’s back with a song that is going on repeat in our household, the incredibly catchy No On Knows Nothing Anymore.  The great new country tinged track is from Bill Bragg’s upcoming release Tooth and Nail produced by Joe Henry.

No One Knows Nothing Anymore:

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Crossing my fingers and hoping that the whole album has the same countryfied feeling, it really suits Mr. Bragg.

Billy Bragg Tooth and Nail

Here’s a promo for the record  and yes! it sounds quite country and it sounds fantastic! (out 18 March):

Billy Bragg-1

– Hallgeir (who also took the pictures)

Today: Happy birthday Eric Andersen

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Eric Andersen (born February 14, 1943, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American singer-songwriter.

Eric Andersen has maintained a career as a folk-based singer/songwriter since the 1960s. In contrast to such peers as Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs, Andersen’s writing has had a romantic/philosophical/poetic bent for the most part, rather than a socially conscious one, though one of his best-known songs, “Thirsty Boots,” has as its background the Freedom Rides of the early ’60s. (The song has been recorded by Judy Collins and others.) (allmusic.com/William Ruhlmann)

Eric Andersen on “The Johnny Cash Show” Jan. 6, 1971, singing Born Again:

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The Best Songs: An American Trilogy – Mickey Newbury

mickey newbury

“Mickey Newbury is a poet” – Johnny Cash

Mickey Newbury’s most famous song, his biggest hit, is An American Trilogy. A song that pairs a southern song written by a northerner with a slave spiritual imported from the Caribbean. Actually it combines three songs that was not supposed to work together,  it interlace “Dixie”, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, and “All My Trials”. It is quite ironic that the song Mickey Newbury is best-known for is the only one he didn’t write, the medley that was adopted by Elvis as a centrepiece of his Vegas-era shows.

In 1970 the political climate in USA was extremely tense. Nixon, Vietnam, Cambodia, demonstrations against the war , Business Week Magazine wrote: “This is a dangerous situation…it threatens the whole social structure of the nation…”

Student-Strike-of-1970-USA

White students in integrated southern schools insisted on using Dixie as a school-fight song, while black students protested, as they saw it as an anthem for white supremacy. Dixie was even banned in some states in the south.

Mickey Newbury decided to sing it as a statement against censorship. The arrangers advised him strongly against it, but Newbury told them to get the riot squad in.

Joan Baez, Odetta, Barbara Streisand, Mama Cass and Kris Kristofferson were in the audience.

“…the great and the good of Hollywood who had gathered on Thanksgiving weekend 1970 to see and hear this modes fellow from The Lone Star state make his West Coast Debut and were stunned into silence as they witnessed Mickey Newbury give the performance of his life.

It seemed as if the song was not just coming from inside him but as if he was outside himself and inside the song. The sound pushed out in waves. Calming, resolute, cleansing. The atmosphere in the club seemed to be frozen in slow motion, moving with the illusion of stillness. The entire audience rapt in the moment, as if trapped in amber, attention fixed upon the solitary figure on stage illuminated by a soft curtain of light, with just his guitar for accompaniment.

And that illusion was broken only by a tear that rolled down the cheek of a great gospel singer sitting in the audience. ” (liner notes: An American Trilogy 4 disc set)

This is fine version two years later, from the British Tv-show The Old Grey Whistle Test:

Pitchfork:

…Musically, however, it sounds overly serious and antiquated, almost quaint– more an artifact from the period than a durable piece of music.

And yet, “An American Trilogy” reveals Newbury’s complex approach to songwriting and album sequencing: Every word or line or stanza or song complements the others and shades their meanings, contributing crucially to the whole.

“Originally I intended to do just Dixie. It had the connotation of being strictly a Southern song that was associated with racism…I thought it was unfair so…in the middle of the show I started to do Dixie” – Mickey Newbury

Everybody held their breath…

“I was sitting next to Odetta, and I have to admit I turned a little green. What happened the next seven or eight minutes was magic.” – Susan (Mick’s wife)

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The way Newbury presented Dixie, was not as a battle anthem, but as the slow, intense tune that we know today. He brought out its beauty and significance by slowing it down. He in fact had gotten the idea after hearing Barbara Streisand slowing down the song Happy Days Are Here Again and thereby infusing the song with the meaning and impact that was “hidden” in the song.

Here is another fine rendition, probably from the 80s:

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