July 2018

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Take a short road trip north after the 4th

You may have to follow those Fourth of July fireworks all the way to Albuquerque this year, but you have two days to get it done. On July 6 the Cowboy Junkies are coming to the Duke City. The band hails from Canada, and their sound can best be described as a gentler alternative with deep roots in country and folk, led by the very ethereal, and almost whisper-like vocalist, Margo Timmins. They first came to prominence in the late ’80s with their album “Trinity Sessions,” which they revisited a decade ago with the aptly titled “Trinity Revisited.” They are now supporting “All That Reckoning,” their first release in over six years and also the first in over a decade to not be a part of their “Nomad Series.” The show takes place at the ABQ Biopark Zoo, and just like they said in the Wizard of Oz: “Lions, Tigers, Bears, and Cowboy Junkies, oh my” (well kind of).

Ike Reilly, “Crooked Love,” Rock Ridge Music

2015 was the last time we had the opportunity to bring back “I Like Ike,” a tag line that once referred to our 34th president, but for close to two decades now it has been directed to someone else. That someone is Libertyville, Illinois native Ike Reilly, a man who was originally signed to Universal records. We were introduced to his dark, wisecracking, sarcastic, and always brilliant songwriting in 2001. Ike Reilly goes far beyond the traditional as he packs a punch behind every single utterance and crosses all boundaries. “Crooked Love” is the latest, and although at times it feels more laid back than past efforts with a grittier blues pulse, it still manages to maintain a completely loose, improvised jam tone. His take on the world is still very much intact with lyrics filled with his favorite topics: drinking, fighting the powers that be, sex, tongue-in-cheek apocalyptic love and, of course, drugs. This one also has the harmonica making its presence known much more than past efforts, and a saxophone finds a place in the lineup on a few cuts. There is nothing crooked about my love for this album; it is brilliant, and as always, “I Like Ike.”

Matthew Sweet, “Tomorrow’s Daughter,” Honeycomb Hideout

Now that he recently passed the half-century mark, the future seems to be an ever-present thought in Matthew Sweet’s mind. I came to this simply because the word “Tomorrow” is in two consecutive releases, although I am sure it has more to do with the fact that the latest is primarily fleshed-out demos from his previous CD, “Tomorrow Forever.” Either way, if this motivates him to get the engine firing back on all cylinders, I am more than on board. By 2017 it had been six long years since we got an original disc of material from Sweet and now less than a year later he unleashes another masterpiece, “Tomorrow’s Daughter.” It is classic Sweet, sugary pop slathered liberally over equal parts distorted and jangly guitars. The record’s third cut, intriguingly titled “Lady Frankenstein,” is of course his version of a love song, and well worth diving back into the Sweet pool if you’ve been shivering on the deck since the early ’90s. If this new one should lead to a Sweet obsession, be sure to do some digging; there are a bounty of box-set worthy B-sides out there from his entire career.

John Wesley Harding, “Greatest Other People’s Hits,” Omnivore Records

El Paso’s own infamous gunfighter John Wesley Hardin inspired the slightly misspelled Bob Dylan album, which in turn inspired the stage name of this Canadian singer-songwriter who began his career in the late 1980’s. That’s certainly long enough to have a “greatest hits” album, but in this came the story, like Harding’s name, is a bit more complicated. This latest effort is the 17-track collection “Greatest Other People’s Hits” culled from material over his entire career. The versions are primarily stripped-down acoustic renditions, with many taking entirely new direction than the original composition and in some cases surpassing the familiar. He is joined by many special guests who lend him a hand covering their own material. Two standouts are the electrified “Satellite of Love” with the late Lou Reed, and Bruce Springsteen helping him out with “Wreck on the Highway,” a gem from Springsteen’s “The River” album. The collection ends where it all began, with his 1989 take on Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” which is simply the cherry on this already overflowing crazy delicious sundae.

Collectibles: Gomez, “Bring it On 20th Anniversary Edition,” Virgin / EMI Records

It is hard to believe that it was two decades ago that we were first introduced to this jam band like no other. For starters they called the United Kingdom home, a country that does not come first to mind with the genre. Then there was the issue of the name, since Gomez isn’t really a fitting name for five guys with absolutely no Hispanic descent. Neither of these things really matter as Virgin Emi celebrates the anniversary of their debut album, “Bring It On,” with a brand-new, four-CD super deluxe box. The set kicks things off with a remastered version of the original masterpiece, which sounds better than ever. Then we get into just how prolific this band is with an abundance of unreleased B-sides, many coming from impossible-to-find European singles. We also get a peek into the creative process on disc three, with early demos and 4-track recordings, and finish up with a handful tracks from the Sheffield Tapes. The collection concludes with a half-dozen cuts from the BBC Radio One Sessions, which includes their incredible acoustic take on a Temptations classic. The live material continues with their show from Glastonbury on June 27, 1998, featuring their electrified, rollicking take on the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen.” For icing on the anniversary cake, a foldout poster, postcards, and a 36-page book are included.

Keep an eye out for these new
and upcoming releases:

Blue October — “I Hope You’re Happy”
Neil and Liam Finn — “Lightsleeper”
The Kooks — “Let’s Go Sunshine”
Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood — “With Animals”
Prince — “Piano & A Microphone: 1983”

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

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