Alex Chilton “From Memphis to New Orleans” & “Songs From Robin Hood Lane” (Bar None Records, 2019)

Now here’s a real treat – not one but two albums of previously unreleased tracks and forgotten gems from one of the great counter-culture musicians, Alex Chilton. Chilton was a true original and a great example of a musician who followed his own star rather than pursue simple commercial success. Starting out as a teenager he experienced stardom as vocalist for blue eyed soul band The Box Tops, whose early songs included compositions by great country soul writers Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn and Chilton retained a working relationship with Penn for much of his early career, being the voice that Penn preferred to demo his songs. Continue reading “Alex Chilton “From Memphis to New Orleans” & “Songs From Robin Hood Lane” (Bar None Records, 2019)”

Bob Collum & The Welfare Mothers “Pay, Pack And Carry” (Harbour Song Records, 2018)

Bob Collum hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is a pretty good place to come from if you’re a man who makes music in the Americana genre. But Collum has added an interesting twist to his back story by relocating to the Thames Estuary in darkest Essex and it’s here that he assembled his band, The Welfare Mothers, and now brings his music to the masses. And pretty good music it is too.” Continue reading “Bob Collum & The Welfare Mothers “Pay, Pack And Carry” (Harbour Song Records, 2018)”

Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)

If, like many of us, you’re hoping a copy of Dylan’s “More Blood, More Tracks” might be among the presents awaiting your attention under the Christmas Tree, I suggest you drop the fat man in the red suit a little note, requesting this stocking filler as a late addition to the Christmas list. ‘No One Else Could Play That Tune’ is an outstanding piece of rock history. Writer Clinton Heylin has left no stone unturned in his attempt to bring us the definitive breakdown of the Blood on the Tracks recording sessions that resulted in Dylan’s 1974 masterpiece – and which, in turn, created the latest release in the highly acclaimed Bootleg Series. Continue reading “Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)”

Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)

First things first. If you haven’t discovered the excellent 33 1/3 series of books from Bloomsbury Publishing you’re seriously missing out. This is a series of short books about popular music and it focuses on individual albums by a very wide range of artists. Obviously not all of these will be of interest to Americana fans but there is enough to make this a series well worth investigating. Continue reading “Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)”

Exhibition: Mondo Scripto – The Lyrics and Drawings of Bob Dylan (Halcyon Gallery, 2018)

We all know that Dylan is one of the World’s great songwriters but how many of us knew that he’s also a very accomplished painter, illustrator and sculptor? A new exhibition, currently running at London’s Halcyon Gallery, brings Dylan’s wider artistic output to a wider audience. This isn’t the first time that Dylan’s art has been put on show but what makes this exhibition different is that it is aimed squarely at the fan of Dylan the musician. Continue reading “Exhibition: Mondo Scripto – The Lyrics and Drawings of Bob Dylan (Halcyon Gallery, 2018)”

The Frank Burkitt Band “Raconteur” (Independent, 2018)

A Scot, making Americana music out of New Zealand – and making a fine job of it too! It says much for this genre of music that it can take a lot of diverse influences and still retain its core sound and appeal. In 2014 Burkitt and his partner, Kara Filbey, relocated from Edinburgh, Scotland to Wellington, New Zealand, where the Frank Burkitt band was formed, adding double bass player James Geluk and mandolin and banjo player Cameron Burnell to Frank’s vocals and guitar and Kara’s flute. Continue reading “The Frank Burkitt Band “Raconteur” (Independent, 2018)”

Book Review: Clinton Heylin “What We Did Instead of Holidays (Route Publishing, 2018)

Given the number of books that have been written about the various members of Fairport Convention and the band itself, you might be forgiven for thinking that there’s very little left to say about them; but you’d be wrong, as Clinton Heylin’s excellent new book “What We Did Instead of Holidays” shows. Heylin is a rock historian of some note, having written biographies of artists such as Dylan, Springsteen, Van Morrison and others, as well as books on the history of bootleg recordings and the development and pre-history of Punk. He’s also, it would appear, quite the Fairport Convention fan. The book is factual and insightful but is clearly written by someone with a deep understanding of, and interest in, the band. Continue reading “Book Review: Clinton Heylin “What We Did Instead of Holidays (Route Publishing, 2018)”

Kazyak “Reflection” (Independent, 2018)

Kazyak songwriter/guitarist Peter Frey describes their newest release, “Reflection” as “an attempt to create surreal, vivid, Dali-esque images with our sound — it’s a collection of outtakes, demos, and b-sides consistent with our history of not-trying-to-be-mainstream alternative rock”. It’s the second part of that sentence that’s at the core of the problem with this recording – “a collection of outtakes, demos and b-sides” and, unfortunately, it sounds like it! Continue reading “Kazyak “Reflection” (Independent, 2018)”

Stills & Collins “Everybody Knows” (Cleopatra Records, 2018)

Sometimes you can be genuinely surprised by an album for any number of reasons. In this case, it’s the surprise of seeing these two artists recording together in 2018. There’s no obvious reason why they shouldn’t but it’s odd that they never recorded together when they were a couple yet are doing so now, relatively late in life. Judy Collins is, of course, the subject of famous Stephen Stills songs like “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Helplessly Hoping”. Continue reading “Stills & Collins “Everybody Knows” (Cleopatra Records, 2018)”