April 2020

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Yoakam performs closer to home with full set March 14

The last time this guy was in our area he was kicking off a Las Crucers country music fest with a somewhat truncated show. This time around things are going to be different. To start with Dwight Yoakam is now back in El Paso and in a more intimate setting at the Abraham Chavez Theatre, and we are sure to get a full set. We haven’t seen a new album for about four years, even then the word “new” was questionable since “Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars...” was a collection of him reinterpreting favorites from his very own work. Lately he has been spending more time on side projects between his role on Amazon’s original show “Goliath,” his Sirius XM channel, and his (huh, what?) food brand “Bakersfield Biscuits.” It seems like recorded music has taken a back seat, but all that hasn’t kept him off the road and that is where he shines. His career spans over three decades, and with his instantly recognizable drawl and guitar playing that finds itself bouncing between country, rockabilly and honky-tonk, and his penchant for incredible versions, you know you are in for a good time. This one falls on Saturday three days before St. Patty’s so there really are no excuses not to join this party.

Supergrass, “The Strange Ones, 1994-2008,” BMG

Caught somewhere between Britpop and Garage Rock were three lads from across the pond. They came knocking on America’s door in the early ’90s. They eventually turned into four and then unfortunately turned into zero as they disbanded far too soon, but they left us with a trove of incredible music. Their style was sometimes jangly, at times psychedelic and often poppy; a few moments were somber, but most of the time their call to attention was energetic and loud. They gave us a half-dozen brilliant albums, and left on an incredible high note with the cream of the crop, 2008’s “Diamond Hoo Ha.” Now some of that and a whole lot more is represented in “The Strange Ones, 1994-2008.” The disc feature 22 cuts with tracks from their entire career, with nine top 20 hits represented (of course those are on the UK charts). If you really want to go deep with this one they are more than happy to oblige with the super deluxe version containing six vinyl LP’s, 13 compact discs, a 7-inch single, a book and trinkets galore. The CD’s are the dangling carrot here, chock-full of live songs, unreleased tracks, demos, acoustic numbers and rare gems. Supergrass is super terrific —the only strange thing about “Strange Ones’ is if you didn’t pick it up.

Drive By Truckers, “The Unraveling,” ATO Records

We were last on the road with these guys back in 2016, which is way too long for a band that has so much to say. In their new one, “Unraveling,” things get started with the hauntingly beautiful “Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun,” and move on to “Babies in Cages,” so make sure buckled tight and get ready for another wild ride with the Drive By Truckers. That is proven by the very next cut: As soon as they left us with a seriously heavy heart, they put their foot on the gas and get our feet stompin’ (all be it with “Armageddon’s Back in Town,” so we haven’t quite left the house of gloom). Whether they are talking about rampant gun carnage, poverty-stricken masses, or heroin abuse, it is all still somehow very enjoyable. Maybe it is just that Southern drawl delivery with a heavy dose of countrified goodness that just feels so comforting. All of this is brought to us by the songwriting and singing talents of both Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, with the latter taking the mic more often. The “Unraveling” proves the Drive By Truckers are two decades in and nowhere near done as they still have a lot to unravel.

Greg Dulli, “Random Desire,” Royal Cream/BMG

About five years ago he once again grabbed the helm of the Afghan Whigs after several adventures. He had spent time with a batch of other faces in the Twilight Singers, and then was helped down his dark path with Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees in a short-lived outfit named the Gutter Twins. He recorded a batch of songs under his own name Greg Dulli, and has been a very busy man. Since he got back with his original gang he has released a pair of stellar albums. Then he headed out by himself once again, resulting in “Random Desire.” This release could confidently sit beside some of the best material of his amazing career. He soars out of the gates with two blistering guitar masterpieces then takes us through some classic, mysteriously hazed, balladesque tales. Throughout the disc the sweat, passion and gravel-laced vocals keep us at the edge of our seats. After hearing this masterpiece there is nothing random about my desire for more, as it sadly ends much too soon, clocking in at few ticks over half an hour.

Mick Jagger, Solo Recordings Reissues, UMG

Late last year when everyone was knee-deep in holiday hoopla, Universal Music snuck out wax reissues of Mick Jagger’s complete solo studio output. We are talking a deep dive, with duets with Peter Tosh, Michael Jackson and David Bowie, and even contributions to soundtracks like “Ruthless People.” These are pretty much straight re-releases on standard LP’s, but three out of the four did get a much needed sound quality upgrade with all being remastered and pressed on 180-gram vinyl. This work should not be dismissed: Many cuts spread across this collection can rival some of the Rolling Stones’ best work. Jagger debuted on his own in 1985 with “She’s the Boss,” and while many tracks feel as if they were ripped from an ’80s keyboard-laden soundtrack, it’s still worth a listen. Next up is 1987’s “Primitive Cool,” and despite horrendous album art work there are songs that show why he is the front man of the “World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band.” Fast forward about decade and a half and we get “Wandering Spirit,” an incredible LP from start to finish, and a must own. The last one is from the new millennium; “Goddess in the Doorway” gets Bono of U2 and Pete Townshend of The Who to join the fun, so things naturally only get better. Solo or with the Stones, Mick Jagger is a required component to any music library worth its salt.

 

Brian Chozick is owner of Tumblin’
Dice Music. Drop him a line at
tumblindicemusic@netscape.ne

 

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