Finally we’re getting new music from The South! We have listened extensively to the album since we got it and we had a little talk with Alexander Pettersen about the record and music in general.
What do you see as the biggest difference on this album from the last one? The main difference is how fast we did it. We started recording the last album in December 2010, but we didn’t release it until March 2012. The new record was done in January 2013 and was actually ready for release in June this year (even if we waited until October)
Musically they’re even more at “the west-coast” of USA this time, the country aspect is toned down (but there are traces of it still – great steel-guitar and some honky-tonk piano, I like that they haven’t abandoned it all.) It has that very recognizable guitar sound (“The South-sound”), but it has more “space” and is more dreamy in a way.
When we talked to The South at Bergenfest in 2012, they told us that producer Bent Sæther (Motorpsycho) gave them music to listen to, to get inspired by.
What did Bent Sæther think you should listen to this time?
We didn’t have that specific discussion this time, we told him a bit about what we wanted, in what direction we would like to go. “A bigger canvas” was an expression that came about early on. We wanted not to rush it, to give the songs more time.
Memory Lane (and other songs of love and hope) by Olav Larsen & The Alabama Rodeo Stars (OL&TARS) has been five years in the making. Why? “Personal issues” are stated as being the reason for this long-awaited release. I really like the band’s two first albums, and they received some well deserved praise upon their release.
Perhaps it takes someone from such a great distance to authentically come to grips with the true breadth of Americana.”– Dallas Observer
I have been eagerly waiting on a new record from Olav Larsen and his companions. Is it as good as I’ve hoped for?
I’ll come to that, first a bit of history.
Olav Larsen was raised in the Norwegian town of Sandnes and introduced to his father’s music collection of blues greats including Blind Willie McTell and Robert Johnson which again led to Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. As Olav began to fine-tune his own tastes it was a healthy diet of Guy Clark, John Prine, Steve Goodman and Townes Van Zandt that he first feasted on, before turning his attentions more recently to Bright Eyes, Will Oldham and Howe Gelb among others. (press release)
Allmusic (introduction to the review of their first album):
You’ve got to love the back story of Olav Larsen & the Alabama Rodeo Stars. Larsen’s all-American alt-country, it seems, is made by an African-Norwegian who found his way there via records by Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo, John Prine and the like. The Alabama Rodeo Stars? Never seen Alabama. Scandinavians all. But no gimmick, this.
Ok, that was the history lesson, so how is the new album?
It is a better sounding record that’s for sure. The sound is fuller and it has a distinct sound, the sound on the songs are more a part of a “whole album”, a more complete experience. The production sounds more professional. I do not know who has produced and mixed the album, but it sounds really good!
Apart from the production, what strikes me the most is the musicianship. The players are at the top of their game and they clearly have a genuine love for the music. It sounds like they are having fun. They have a great band dynamic and it often feels like it was recorded live in the studio. This is hard to pull off, but this band does it!
When Olav Larsen sent me the songs, he said, “I hope it’s not too country for you.” I replied, “Can it ever be too country?” He laughed.
There are songs on the album that are really honky-tonk, but there are elements of blues, gospel and rock’n roll all through the record. This isn’t slick Nashville or pure Bakersfield, it is a stew. It is a mix of all the good things in country music. This is real roots music.
Let’s take a look at the songs. 11 song about love in all it’s glory, and in all it’s misery. Songs you can only sing after you’ve lived some.
Let’s listen to the fine title track, Memory Lane (live acoustic):
I play patterns. I’ll make up a pattern and just play it.
“Well, let’s see: I started [in music] at nine and quit. Then got back to it when I was twelve. Then I became a party star. In fact, I became a party!”
For me he was the true light of the Band. The other guys were fantastic talents, of course, but there was something of the holy madman about Richard. He was raw. When he sang in that high falsetto the hair on my neck would stand on end. Not many people can do that.
A nice tribute video – I’m just a country boy:
I Shall Be Released (The Band)
Gonna dedicate this song to Mr. Richard Manuel, who does it so well
~Bob Dylan (Introducing “I Shall Be Released” December 8, 1975)
Richard George Manuel
April 3, 1943
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
March 4, 1986 (aged 42)
Winter Park, Florida, U.S.
Richard George Manuel (April 3, 1943 – March 4, 1986) was a Canadian composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his contributions to and membership in The Band.
Here is the wonderful “Georgia On My Mind” from The Last Waltz concert:
“Richard Manuel was a whole show unto himself. He was hot. He was about the best singer I’d ever heard; most people said he reminded them of Ray Charles. He’d do those ballads, and the ladies would swoon. To me that became the highlight of our show.”
The Band was a Canadian-American roots rock group that originally consisted of Rick Danko (bass guitar, double bass, fiddle, trombone, vocals), Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Garth Hudson (keyboard instruments, saxophones, trumpet), Richard Manuel (piano, drums, baritone saxophone, vocals) and Robbie Robertson (guitar, vocals). The members of the Band first came together as they joined rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins’s backing group, The Hawks, one by one between 1958 and 1963.
You Dont Know Me – Tokyo 1983
“He brought a lot of powers and strengths to the group. He brought in gospel music from his church upbringing. Plus, he loved to play and just come up with new things. It was like having a force of nature in the band.”
In 1994, Richard Manuel was inducted, posthumously, into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Band.
In 2003, Japan’s Dreamsville Records released Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway, which contains selections from a solo concert recorded in Saugerties, New York in October 1985.
Former bandmate Robbie Robertson‘s song “Fallen Angel” (1987) and The Band‘s song “Too Soon Gone” (1993) are each tributes to Manuel.
On Forbes.com, Allen St. John wrote a tribute article about Richard Manuel and Rick Danko on April 19, 2012.
Eric Clapton’s 1986 album, August, features his tribute to Richard Manuel entitled “Holy Mother”.
San Francisco-area group, The Call, who had collaborated with former Band members Hudson and Robertson, dedicated the video for their 1986 single, “Everywhere I Go” to Manuel.
Counting Crows recorded the song “If I Could Give All My Love -or- Richard Manuel Is Dead”, released on their 2002 album Hard Candy.
The Drive-By Truckers’ song “Danko/Manuel” was released on their album The Dirty South in 2004.
Ok, I know, they released their first album in 2007 so they’re not exactly a new band. Well, they are new to me, and I reckon they should get a lot more attention than they have.
I discovered them through veteran singer/songwriter Mike McClure (I love his album, 50 Billion), I was wondering what he was doing and the name Turnpike Troubadours popped up when I looked around the web.
They have released three albums so far, all excellent. We did not include them on our year-end list for 2012, and I fear it is just as big a mistake as when we failed to include Johnathan Wilson on the 2011 list. Those things are bound to happen but it is really annoying when they do.
Gin, Smoke, Lies , great video/song beautiful shot but with a dark undertone:
They come from Oklahoma and they play a country tinged roots-rock. It sounds effortless and clever at the same time, kind of the same way that Steve Earle or Townes Van Zandt sounds so easy at first and are so intricate and smart when you really listen.
Wikipedia has a short description of them, I guess it will expand in the near future… :
Turnpike Troubadours is an American Red Dirt group from Oklahoma composed of Evan Felker, R.C. Edwards, Kyle Nix, Ryan Engelman and Gabe Pearson. They are signed to Bossier City Records and have released three studio albums since 2007. Their 2012 album Goodbye Normal Street peaked at number 57 on the Billboard 200.
For Americana, Neil Young’s first album with the band Crazy Horse in nearly nine years, the singer-songwriter revisits classic American folk songs and delivers the tunes, which encompass familiar protest songs, murder ballads and campfire songs, with electrifying ferocity. In spite of — or perhaps because of the approach, the universal appeal of the songs is neither lost nor diminished and they retain their relevance in these challenging times.
Wikipedia says of the history of the song:
The words are those of a bereaved lover singing about his darling, the daughter of a miner in the 1849 California Gold Rush. He loses her in a drowning accident, though he consoles himself towards the end of the song with Clementine’s “little sister”.
The verse about the little sister was often left out of folk song books intended for children, presumably because it seemed morally questionable.
Another theory is that the song is from the view of Clementine’s father, and not a lover.
Gerald Brenan attributes the melody to originally being an old Spanish ballad in his book South from Granada. It was made popular by Mexican miners during the Gold Rush. It was also given various English texts. No particular source is cited to verify that the song he used to hear in the 1920s in a remote Spanish village was not an old text with new music, but Brenan states in his preface that all facts mentioned in the book have been checked reasonably well. The song is using the melody placed on Romances, in particular the one of Romance del Conde Olinos o Niño, a sad love story very popular in the Spanish folk some of which were compiled at the court of Alfonso X and others like the Cancionero de Uppsala later by the House of Trastamara.
It is unclear when, where and by whom the song was first recorded in English for others to hear.
The video for “Clementine” as for all of the clips produced for Americana is authentic found footage, adding a unique visual element to a project steeped in America’s rich, lyrical history.
“The Americana arrangement extends the folk process using many of the original words and a new melody. The song tells the story of either a bereaved lover recalling his lost sweetheart, or a father missing his lost daughter. In both cases the daughter has drowned in an accident. The verse about Clementine’s sister has been omitted from most children’s versions. This verse has different meanings depending on whether the point of view of the singer is taken as the lover or the father.”