Kevin Bryan’s record reviews

Kinky Friedman,”Lasso From El Paso” (Floating World FLOATM 6207)­ Singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman was working as a member of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue when he recorded the eclectic “Lasso From El Paso” in 1976. This gave the eccentric Texan a rare opportunity to rope in rock luminaries such as T­Bone Burnett, Roger McGuinn and Mick Ronsonto underpin his mildly whimsical musings on the human condition and he certainly made the most of his good fortune, although the venture wasn’t a great commercial success and Friedman is better known these days as a writer of detective and mystery novels.”The Ballad of Ira Hayes”and a live rendition of Kinky’s classic “Sold American” are the best of the bunch.
Music news EMN-141206-063622001Music news EMN-141206-063622001
Music news EMN-141206-063622001

Percy Sledge,”Live in Kentucky” (Wienerworld WNRD7053)­This inexpensive new Wienerworld DVD captures veteran soulman Sledge’s 2006 show at Kentucky’s Mountain ArtsCentre . The former hospital orderly struck gold very early in his recording career when his debutsingle,”When A Man Loves A Woman” soared into the higher reaches of the singles charts onboth sides of the Atlantic in 1966,and this majestic ballad provides the memorable finale for anundemanding jaunt down memory lane which also revives some lesser known gems fromPercy’s ilustrious back catalogue including “I’ll Be Your Everything,” “Take Time To Know Her”and “Out Of Left Field.”

“American Heartland ­ Legends of Country” (Sony Music)­ This eminently tuneful3 CD anthology revives a selection of country classics from the likes of Hank Williams, DollyParton and Johnny Cash alongside contributions from several performers whose connections with the Nashville establishment are tenuous to say the least.Legendary roots rockers The Band andsinger­songwriter Dan Fogelberg slot firmly into the latter category,chipping in with “The NightThey Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Leader of the Band” respectively to add a little more variety tothe proceedings.

Bellowhead,”Revival” (Island Records)­The rumbustious British folk outfit make their major label debut with their most accessible and expansive offering to date. Two fine seashanties, “Let Her Run” and “Roll Alabama,” open the proceedings with a genuine flourish, andBellowhead also apply their rousing big­band sound to the oddly cinematic psychedelia of “MoonKittens” and a splendid revival of the great Richard Thompson’s 1974 masterwork,”I Want ToSee The Bright Lights Tonight” before tackling a classic murder ballad in the shape of the album’sepic finale,”Greenwood Side.”Gram Parsons,”The Early Years Vol.1 & 2” (Floating World FLOATS6215)­ GramParsons is best remembered these days for his pioneering country­rock exploits with outfits suchas The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, but this ultimately tragic figure actually began hisperforming career with Kingston Trio soundalikes The Shilos. This entertaining archive packagecouples some unpolished demos that they recorded with the youthful Parsons at a South Carolina radio station in 1965 with a selection of Gram’s hitherto unreleased solo performancesfrom later the same year and should be required listening for anyone with an interest in theFlorida born balladeer’s early years as an aspiring young folkie.

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