Chuck Maultsby And His Old Band "The Best And/Or Worst Of..." (Wagon Tracks, 2006)
(Aka, "Chuck Wagon & The Wheels") Poor Chuck Maultsby, somewhere along the line, this Arizona barband warhorse sold the rights to his band's name to some lame-ass wrestling crew, who put out a crappy album under the CW&TW name, which soon sank into oblivion. I guess they still own the name, though, because after Maultsby put out this (long-overdue) best-of album on his own indie label, he had to turn around and re-issue it under his own name. Well, let that be a lesson to you: never sell your band's name. Regardless, this here is one fine, full-throttle set that fans of smart-ass indiebilly oughtta really dig. This collects obnoxious oldies such as "You Shot The TV (But You Were Aiming At Me)," "My Girl Passed Out In Her Food," "You Only Say You Love Me When You're Drunk" and that enduring classic, "Disco Sucks," an anti-disco anthem from 1979 that still speaks truth to power. These are all songs I grew up with (thanks, KFAT!) and still like to play on the radio from time to time... CW&TW were a great regional band based in Tucson, AZ (and still do a few gigs from time to time, or so I'm told... ) It's fun stuff, definitely worth tracking down! Also includes a handful of fun, funny bonus tracks drawn from the band's countless live shows... Thanks, Chuck! (Available through CD Baby and iTunes... Or through Maultsby's own website, www.chuckmaultsby.com )
Delbert McClinton - see artist discography
It's kind of hard to place McIlwaine's work -- she's one of the best examples of the more experimental, inclusive aspects of early '70s pop, plus she's one of the most enigmatic, striking figures in the history of female rock and blues singers. This CD combines two LPs she made for Polydor -- Honky Tonk Angel from 1972, and We The People, from '73. To the uninitiated, these recordings might be somewhat bewildering: who the hell was this yodeling madwoman with the funky vibe and the crazy steel guitar? Drawing on sources as diverse as Kitty Wells, Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson and Blind Faith, McIlwaine summons the spirit of a coffeehouse folkie dropping acid with Jimi Hendrix (which she probably did, since she was a pal of his...) while laying down some seriously funky, blues-drenched music. She was kind of an avant garde version of Bonnie Raitt, who was also coming into her own around the same time. But McIlwaine is way nuttier than Bonnie would ever dream of being. She's unrestrained and chaotic, completely willing to be either incredibly soulful, or incredibly goofy, as the spirit might take her. One thing's for sure, you'll never come across anyone else like her -- she's a one-of-a-kind kinda gal. Plus, there are a bunch of great, classic tunes on here, including the novelty classics "I Don't Want To Play" and "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (But Nobody Wants To Die)," as well as her genuinely spooky version of "Can't Find My Way Home". Worth tracking down!
McIlwaine's nutty, yelpy soul sister yodelin' finds its highest expression on this disc, with crazed, funky versions of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill," and exuberant originals like "Lazy Day" and "Thirty-Piece Band." Also noteworthy is her wrenching version of "Down So Low," which rivals the Tracy Nelson original. This is a spendid hippie funk album, but you really have to be on her wavelength to appreciate it. Fans of her Polydor albums are strongly urged to track this one down... it's a doozy, too.
Ellen McIlwaine "The Real/Everybody Needs It" (Stony Plain, 1995)
Thankfully, the digital age found room for Ellen McIlwaine's music, in this case an indie reissue of her truly fabulous and idiosyncratic album, The Real Ellen McIlwaine, paired up on a single CD with a 1982 album, Everybody Needs It, which sadly was not up par with her usual high standards... In fact, it was pretty terrible. Still, the stuff from '75 is hella fab, so this disc is worth tracking down.
Okay, this isn't exactly what you'd call a "roots" or "Americana" album, but since revered superpickers like Ry Cooder and David Bromberg were part of the studio crew, and since the music itself has an odd, obliquely hinted-at twangitude, I figure it'll do. What this is, actually, is a fascinating and unique pop album from a remarkable show-biz insider. To begin with, Terry Melcher -- who passed away in November, '04 -- was Doris Day's son (and bore a striking resemblance to her...) which couldn't have hurt when he threaded his way through the thickets of the L.A. music machine... Melcher had his first hits as a surf music songwriter, then landed a staff job as a producer at Columbia, where he helped mould the early sounds of the Byrds, among others. This is one of only two albums he recorded under his own name, and it's pretty interesting. Melcher's attentuated, half-whiny vocals bring to mind the likes of Jonathan Edwards and Jesse Colin Young, but his musical approach is much denser and more orchestral, making full use of the studio magic at his disposal. His warped reworking of roots music oldies like "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" and "Stagger Lee," not to mention his bleak, opiated version of Jackson Browne's "These Days" all make this an album well worth tracking down. Recommended.
Great "comeback" album for former Kweskin Jug Band-member and Marin County '60s-survivor/mystery man. With economy and ease, Geoff Muldaur weighs in with a solid, soulful, blues-based album. A few tracks slip into mildly embarrassing hippie boogie blues, but others, such as "Wild Ox Moan" and "Got To Find Blind Melon" approach the sublime. His voice has aged well and his delivery is confident and masterful. Highly recommended!
For some reason, I've misplaced my beat-up old copy of the Muleskinner LP. As I recall, though, in my senile haze, it's pretty similar to the Old & In The Way album reviewed below... A spirited, but somewhat raggedy acoustic album, recorded by what was meant to be a pickup band for a Bill Monroe gig on a local TV station. Maybe this isn't the most stellar bluegrass you'll ever hear, but it's certainly not the worst. The players were all top-flight traditionalists: David Grisman, Peter Rowan, flatpicker Clarence White, banjoist Bill Keith, and fiddler Richard Greene, who'd once been in Bill Monroe's band along with Peter Rowan. This is worth tracking down, just to check out what these guys were up to at the start of the decade, and also because it has an early example of Grisman working out his vision on a new acoustic music, on his original composition, "Opus 57," which later became a staple of his famed Quintet. (Addendum: hey, it looks like someone finally reissued the Muleskinner album on CD! Thanks to the folks at Runt Records for making this disc available again!)
Muleskinner (David Grisman/Bill Keith/Clarence White/Peter Rowan) "Muleskinner Live" (Sierra, 1974)
I'm not sure what the difference between these two Muleskinner albums is; maybe this "soundtrack" album includes the complete live set or something... Apparently there's a video out, too, which is probably pretty cool. (Probably the best info online about this project comes from the Byrd Watcher website, which talks in great detail about Clarence White's career...)
Early on, Murphey sat on the edge of the "outlaw" scene -- he wrote a bunch of great hippie-ish songs that other people recorded with a fair amount of success, tunes like "Geronimo's Cadillac" and "Backslider's Wine." His own versions were shaky and fragile, but there was a genuine charm to his thin, strained performances... Things went to hell in a handbasket after he had a Top Ten hit: for those of you who hated "Wildfire" in the '70s, the first half of this CD may come as a revelation; the second half, with it's tepid John Denver-isms, will send you screaming from the room.
Hick Music Index