Peter Bruntnell Journey To The Sun

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It’s getting to be ubiquitous to declare that an album under review is a “pandemic recording” but, so it goes, and Peter Bruntnell’s latest offering goes to show that he, along with several others, have certainly risen to the occasion. Journey To The Sun finds Bruntnell ensconced in his basement, a proud possessor of newly purchased accoutrements, namely, a bouzouki, a synthesiser and a drum machine – I mean, we’ve all been all over Amazon while locked up – and he employs these throughout. Aside from some vintage keyboard additions from Peter Linnane, transmitted from Boston, and pedal steel from Iain Sloan on one song, it’s a truly solo album.

The album certainly leans more to the melancholic side of Bruntnell as he casts aside his ability to produce star spangled rock’nroll. Having said that there are some jangled outings with Lucifer Morning Star featuring  a burbling synth bubbling along with Bruntnell’s guitar while Runaway Car is a rather glorious rush reminiscent  of Steve Stills or The Lemonheads. But, for the most part, the album is quite autumnal with echoes of Nick Drake here and there. The ebbs and flows of the opening song, Dandelion, from its stark acoustic opening (Bruntnell getting his money’s worth from that bouzouki) to the sombre bass and whispers of synthesiser which close it, sets the scene perfectly. Here, Bruntnell inverts what should be a bucolic summer scene, his whispered voice speaking of decay and death with legions of blindfolded angels surrounding him, high on a hill, as dandelions run wild. The song shares that odd mix of horror and blandness which can be found in some of the films of Ben Wheatley.

Bruntnell’s new synth and some lockdown listening to Brian Eno’s album, Another Green World, leads to him including two space age instrumentals into the mix. Both are short with The Antwerp Effect leaning to Philip Glass minimalism while Moon Committee finds Bruntnell  picking his guitar over a soft sonic bubble of sounds. The latter recalls the likes of Steve Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Musick and both are pleasant inclusions but when Bruntnell injects some synthesised sounds into several songs it gets more interesting. You’d Make A Great Widow heaves into view with dizzying sound effects before a robotic drum kicks in and the sound opens up to display a song which is quite quintessentially Bruntnell ,with echoes going all the way back to Normal For Bridgewater. Dharma Liar is also introduced with some synthetic squeaks and burbles before they retreat somewhat into the background allowing Bruntnell, Linnane and Sloan to deliver this gorgeous eight minute dreamlike confection. It’s the pinnacle of the album, a glorious song suffused with melancholy but quite uplifting with its shifting patterns and Brian Wilson like arrangement.

Elsewhere, Bruntnell delivers more of what we expect from him as on the luscious strum of Heart Of Straw which has a heart of political darkness within its lyrics. There’s a version of Wild Mountain Thyme which, given that it’s Bruntnell singing it, sits up there with the likes of The Byrds. But, given that he can deliver such a song as Merrion, a tale which could sit as easily on an archival collection of dustbowl blues as it could on an Uncle Tupelo album, it is a wee bit redundant. There’s some more soothing sonic soupçons along with weathered keyboards on Waiting For Clive, a fine slice of ennui, and the album closes with Bruntnell closeted within the wonderful confines of Mutha. It’s an elegy of sorts, a mournful farewell to a mother, given a wonderful kitchen sink scenario as he offers support and succour to the bereaved. It’s a hefty hump on which to close but Bruntnell, intentionally or not, here hits the button which can open the floodgates of oh, so many, who have lost loved ones in these pestilential times.

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Phil Hooley. Songs From The Back Room.

When one thinks of Scarborough, it’s end of the pier stuff – amusement arcades, fish and chips and trying not to shiver on the sands. It’s certainly not the place you would anticipate would birth an album chockfull of warm Americana styled songs delivered in a fine relaxed fashion. Songs From The Back Room is the solo debut of veteran songwriter Phil Hooley, front man of The Woolgatherers, a band who have plied their enjoyable mix of country, folk and swing at festivals and pubs the length and breadth of the country. Ensconced in Scarborough in lockdown, Hooley happened upon Nashville drummer and producer Justin Johnson, who, for some reason, was also holed up in the seaside resort, they gelled and, several months later, here’s their baby.

For the most part, Songs From The Back Room is a very laid back affair. Guitars glisten and pedal steel does indeed swoon, but the primary focus is on Hooley’s well-grained voice which is like a finely aged malt whisky. Johnson’s production is sympathetic, allowing Hooley to effortlessly croon his words over the finely crafted arrangements. The opening song, Learning To be Still, sets out their stall as Hooley recalls Mark Knopfler vocally while there’s also a hint of Dire Straits in the guitar parts. That Same Old Song follows with a slight skip in its step due to a jauntier melody and some sly Dobro playing as Hooley displays his affection for writers such as Guy Clark. Midasville then arrives with a fine billow of dusty Western tropes as Hooley duets with Liverpool’s Rob Vincent on a grand tale of a frontier town becoming a ghost of its former self – a story as old as the hills perhaps but oddly topical given the recent MAGA baloney. Anyhow, it’s a brilliant song and the band pull it off with some élan.

Aside from the brash pub rock of Pour Me A Drink, a rollicking number which perhaps betrays Hooley’s early introduction to Brinsley Schwartz, and the finger popping sophistication of Maybe Later, Hooley sticks to his winning ways on the piano and fiddle ballad, River Of Dreams which flows wonderfully and is reminiscent of early Jackson Browne. Trust Your Heart has a warm-hearted chorus which is a balm for these unsettled times. Here, the band perform wonderfully with a fine tapestry of fiddle, guitars, pedal steel and mandolin woven into the song. Closing the album, Hooley harks back again to the likes of Guy Clark on the moving and spare It’s Time We Said Goodbye. It’s a lovely song, suffused with love and regret, and a perfect end to what is a very good album.

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Reigning Sound. A Little More Time With Reigning Sound. Merge Records

What to do when a pandemic means you are separated from your current band line up? They’re stranded in New York and you’re in Memphis, the place where you first strapped on your guitar. For Greg Cartwright the answer was simple, round up the original Memphis line up of Reigning Sound and go down memory lane. That’s almost the story behind this album but, in truth, Cartwright had just finished a tour with the original line up (Jeremy Scott on bass, Greg Robertson, drums and Alex Greene, keyboards) promoting a reissue of 2005’s Home For Orphans. The tour had just ended when Covid hit and, stranded in Memphis with time to write, Cartwright just wrangled the band into the studio.

A Little More Time With… turns back the clock somewhat, sounding less like Cartwright’s latest offerings and going back to the roots of the band. There are rootsy rockers and country styled songs, along with a dollop of Memphis soul, all in all, a fine smorgasbord of Americana to feast on. In addition, producer Scott Bomar (who has worked with Al Green and William Bell) captures the sound on a vintage 8 track tape recorder, allowing the album a vibrant and almost live feel.

Cartwright wrote most of these songs in lockdown and the opening Let’s Do It Again, addresses this directly in a most triumphant manner. It’s a full-blown organ swept rocker with echoes of Dylan and The Band in its marrow. The title song, while less frantic, follows in the same lines and it’s followed by a turbo charged cover of an old Adam Faith rocker, I Don’t Need That Kind Of Lovin’ which, to retain The Band comparisons, harks back to when they were backing Ronnie Hawkins.

So far, so rocking. But then there’s a brace of songs which dial it back a bit. I’ll Be Your Man hauls in some sweet strings and Christine seems to strive for a Doug Sahm like groovieness but, ultimately, both songs fail to really catch fire. However, as pedal steel introduces Moving And Shaking, Cartwright is back on the right track on a song which celebrates rock’n’roll with more than a hint of Gram Parsons in its delivery. You Don’t Know What You’re Missing is even better, sounding like a Travelling Wilburys’ out take and the album closes with a fine melodramatic sweep as On And On finds Cartwright  waxing on the importance of love over an impressive arrangement chockfull of plaintive pedal steel, harmony singers and church like organ. A fine end to a pretty fine album.

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Annie Keating. Bristol County Tides

Named for the hideaway in Massachusetts where Keating retired to during the pandemic, Bristol County Tides finds the normally Brooklyn based artist in both gutsy and reflective form. The album is an odyssey of sorts with a claustrophobic funkiness in its opening numbers eventually opening out into a more relaxed acceptance of the way things are. Along this journey, Keating breathes life into some exceptional characters and also pays heed to more personal matters – family, friends and relationships.

It’s a full bodied, full band album with Keating riding the waves over an excellent sounding ensemble, her basic three-piece band along with a small host of guests who add accordion, pedal steel and keyboards. Altogether, the band are supple as they sway and swell, as able to dig into a deep Muscle Shoals like groove while also delivering the delicate intricacies of a song such as Half Mast which is winningly swoonsome.

Third Street opens the album with a vengeance. A grungy urban cry, it prowls the streets capturing snapshots of modern day equivalents of Damon Runyon characters with a voyeur’s eye and snakelike guitars. Kindred Spirit inverts the voyeurism as Keating imagines herself as one of the denizens and invokes the empathy and support which is often the token of community solidarity. Here, the band are more laidback, the guitars more liquid over swirling organ but Keating then dials this up several notches on Marigold which has that hefty blend of chunky guitar chords and church like organ which The Jayhawks utilised to great effect. Later in the album, there is Lucky 13, a luscious and languid swill of a song which is sultry in its kaleidoscopic and slightly nightmarish vision of a casino from hell.

In between these urban howls, Keating retreats to the country and elsewhere on several songs. Blue Moon Tide rides on sly acoustic slide guitar and barbed keyboards while Half Mast finds her creeping back into singer/songwriter territory on a song which comes across as if she were channelling the late Leonard Cohen. It’s fair to say that Keating can come up trumps when she strips things down somewhat as on the exquisite Song For A Friend (a song which just about sums up the album but she truly excels on Bittersweet. It’s a farewell song suffused with images and colours and memories, delivered with a fragile spare guitar and pedal steel backing with Keating, kind of weirdly I suppose, again reminding me of that 70s songstress, Melanie, in her vocal delivery.

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Roberto Cassani. Ansema We Stand

Last time we encountered Roberto Cassani, the Perthshire based, Italian born double bassist, was on his 2019 album, Oh!…L’Amore!, an autobiographical affair. It was far removed from his earlier work which was often comedy based, with Cassani encouraged to offer up more personal songs by his friend and mentor, the legendary Danny Thompson. Ansema We Stand maintains this shift into a more “serious” mode as Cassani delivers an album sung in Rivoltino, the endangered language of his native Lombardy, and marries this to an exquisite set of songs which reflect his Italian heritage but also have a great deal of Scottish traditional music woven throughout.

Cassani says of the album that “It values the influence Scotland has had on me over the years, while allowing me to create the first ever piece of art in my native dialect. It’s a proud moment. Covid was a bit of a starting point to celebrate what we can achieve as small communities to help each other and from this, comes a universal message: culture and community are essential to survive and flourish, especially in hard times.” To this end, the small community gathered around Cassani on the album consists of a storied roll call of venerable Scottish players – Anna Massie on guitar, fiddle, mandolin and tenor guitar, John Somerville on accordion, Steve Fivey on drums and percussions, Ross Ainslie on pipes and whistles, Hamish Napier on piano and flute and Greg Lawson on violin. It’s a terrific ensemble and they truly carry off the premise of celebrating the two cultures.

Several of the songs feature music which not be out of place on recent Blue Rose Code albums. That swirl of Caledonian mists and mystery are evoked several times on songs such as Dolina, Erio In Corsia, and, in particular, Mpedtada Quarantena. Italy is more pronounced on the enchanting L’Ada (which still has a Celtic sweep to it) and on two songs which open the album. Ansema translates from Rivoltino as Together and so the album begins by saying we stand together. The title song is a perfect mix of the two cultures; imagine Paulo Conte backed by Lau. It’s followed by Evviva which has the joy and exuberance of Italian popular music (think of Luna Mezzo Mare from The Godfather’s wedding party) allied to the skirl of trad Scots music. Quite magnificent. The closing song, An Basi (apparently a translation of a Robert Burns poem), serves to remind us that Cassani is a well respected double bass player, schooled by the Italian jazz bassist Giovanni Tommaso, as his instrument bounces and resonates under his dextrous touch on a superb solo performance.

This is certainly the most “complete” album we’ve heard from Cassani and it certainly achieves his aim of marrying two cultures. That it does so with such aplomb should certainly put it in line for some awards when they start handing out Trad music gongs.

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Maria Muldaur with Tuba Skinny. Let’s Get Happy Together. Stony Plain Records

Mention Maria Muldaur and, inevitably, Midnight At The Oasis will be the song which comes to mind, it being a sizeable chart hit in 1972. However, as this fine article on the Americana UK website makes clear, Ms. Muldaur had already carved a reputation prior to this and has gone on to release several albums which tend to root around blues and jazz, the old timey sort. And old timey is perhaps the best way to describe Let’s Get Happy Together which Muldaur recorded with a New Orleans troupe, Tuba Skinny, who specialise in blues, jazz and jug band renditions of songs from yesteryear.

Muldaur had been enamoured of Tuba Skinny having heard some of their albums, and when both were scheduled to appear at International Folk Alliance in New Orleans in 2020, they teamed up to perform together. It went so well that it was decided to record an album and Muldaur spent some time researching vintage songs to bring to the studio. It has to be said that the twelve she selected are just about perfect for the project (she offers details of the provenance of each selection in the liner notes – hinting that one should seek out the originals) and the result is a delightful listen for anyone interested in old time jazz, blues, string band and swing.

Tuba Skinny are an eight piece band who resemble a small 1920’s or 30’s ensemble (coronet, tuba, trombone, clarinet, banjo, guitar and washboard) and they deliver the sounds from that era effortlessly with, as Muldaur notes, “a relaxed, natural, organic groove.” It’s worthwhile saying that they also swing. Muldaur meanwhile has always excelled when singing these type of songs and although there is a fine patina settling in these days she remains in grand voice and totally commands these songs.

As for the songs, unless you are an obsessive  devourer of old time music, they are unfamiliar. Muldaur has done her research well and chosen some gems. The opening I LIke You Best Of All (recorded by the Goofus Five) showcases the syncopation and slippery rythyms of the band while the lyrics are in that ribald area of “jelly roll” mentions and such. The title song was written by Louis Armstrong’s first wife, Lil Hardin Armstrong and Be Your Natural Self comes from an artist called Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon who, according to the notes, sometimes performed as a man and sometimes as a woman, with Muldaur calling him/her, one of the first gender benders.

Irving Berlin is the best-known writer covered here with his I Ain’t Got Rhythm delivered with a nod to Billie Holiday’s 1930’s version but it’s a song by Alexander Hill, Delta Bound, originally recorded by Ivy Anderson and the Duke Ellington Band which takes the honours here. It’s a delightful slow vamp which positively oozes with a southern sensuality.

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Steve Grozier. All that’s Been Lost.

It’s been a long time coming, but Steve Grozier’s debut album has been well worth the wait. Blabber’n’Smoke first encountered Glaswegian Grozier way back in 2016 when he released his first EP, Take My Leave. Another EP and a double A-side single followed but, like many other things, the album was delayed by the pandemic.

Grozier has always been low key (in the best way). His songs and vocals are understated. Melodies are there but are pared to the bone at times, somewhat in the manner of the likes of Townes Van Zandt. A fine example is heard on Memories which features an acoustic guitar strum and plaintive vocals along with some very tasty Dobro and acoustic slide guitar curlicues. Simple and quite wonderful. In an interview with Blabber’n’Smoke, Grozier said that he’d “always been drawn to songwriters that have something interesting to say about heartbreak and the darker aspects of life and deathand when Take My Leave was released, comparisons to Townes and also to Jason Isbell were uttered in reviews. While comparisons are often useful, Grozier doesn’t of course sound like either of them, but just to muddy the waters, we’d like to add another songwriter to the mix as there are moments here which bring to mind Neil Young wallowing in his ditch, while several others are quite mired in an early seventies LA canyon smog.

The album opens with a gentle country rock number which could well have nestled within the grooves of Young’s Comes A Time. Twenty-Third Street is awash in sweet pedal steel with slight organ swells and tasty Telecaster curls as Grozier strolls along, his voice slightly hushed. Blue And Gold is one of the more polished songs on the album with Gozier’s voice slightly echoed over a glistening backdrop. Organ and piano add a stately air to this dense tale which, truth be told, is hard to make out lyrically but which has a slow burning beauty to it. There’s more multilayered grooves on the billowing folk rock of Power In The Lights which opens with a simple guitar melody and Grozier’s lonesome voice before gathering power with waves of wailing guitar, culminating in a glorious crescendo of noise. Meanwhile, Sam, I Know You Tried comes across as a folk song given a psychedelic edge to it, the apocalyptic fuzzy guitar and gloomy organ reminding one of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s rendition of Wooden Ships. Charlie’s Old Mustang/Graveyard is a sweet return to the country rock of the opening number although here Grozier’s touchpoint is more that of the alt-country movement, there’s some Jayhawks, some Whiskytown in the mix here. The song is a wonderful hardscrabble tale and the band here are quite magnificent, playing with a great deal of empathy. As mentioned above, Memories is quite astounding, and Grozier revisits its spare sound on When The Darkness Comes which benefits from Tim Davidson’s lonesome pedal steel along with some mournful harmonica from Anton O’Donnell.

A few years back, Grozier paid tribute to the late Jason Molina on his song, Jason Molina Blues. He concludes his album with another valedictory tribute, this time dedicated to Neal Casal. I Miss My Friend is another restrained country number with lap steel, slowly picked guitar and mandolin. It’s an incredibly moving tribute, beautifully performed and, all in all, something of a balm for the soul as Grozier acknowledges the darkness which drove Casal to his sad end on a wonderfully written song.

We would be remiss not to acknowledge the album’s producer, Roscoe Wilson, one of Glasgow’s most talented musicians who, along with producing, contributes guitars, bass guitar, lap steel, mandolin, keys/organ and drum programming and co wrote much of the music with Mr. Grozier. The pandemic meant that much of the album was recorded in Wilson’s home studio with the musicians unable to record together. Together, the pair have triumphed over such adversity and the album stands tall as a singular and most arresting listen. If there’s such a thing as “Glasgow Americana,” here’s the motherlode.

The album is available here as a download while there will also be a very limited vinyl edition which you can pre-order.

Amy Speace with The Orphan Brigade. There Used To Be Horses Here. Proper Records

On this follow up to her award winning album, Me And The Ghost Of Charlemagne, Amy Speace delves into her personal space for a truly intimate album which was written in the space between two life changing events, her son’s first birthday and then the death of her father. One event life affirming, the other a loss, a dichotomy which informs the songs here which are suffused in memories, some happy, some less so.

Speace is accompanied throughout by The Orphan Brigade (Neilson Hubbard, Ben Glover and Joshua Britt), the accomplished trio whose own albums lend themselves to place and time and it’s a match made in heaven. Their delicate and impressive colourings caress the songs wonderfully while a string quartet adds to the quiet beauty of several of the songs here. One listen to the magnificent edifice of One Year will confirm that Speace has picked her musical partners well.

The album opens with sweeping strings and gentle mandolin ripples on Down The Trail as Speace heads back in time, recalling family journeys from her childhood. It’s as evocative as a faded old family photograph and sets the scene for much of what is to follow. There are echoes of Joni Mitchell in the writing, and her vocal delivery, from hushed to exclamatory, is quite brilliant. The title song is another snapshot from the past but within it there is a sense of anger as her childhood memories of pastures are confronted by the modern reality of urban blight – her father’s spirit no longer resides there. It does reside within yet another sepia toned memory on Father’s Day which is based on an actual photograph from a day out in 1972 with Speace reflecting on her fear that her memories will eventually fade and wishing that her father was still around to celebrate another father’s day. It was not to be and Grief Is A Lonely Land is an incredibly touching elegy which deserves to be heard far and wide as it knocks any Broadway melodrama off of its perch.

On a more affirmative note, there’s the bustling and bluesy skiffle of Hallelujah Train which can be considered as a kind of a grand send off to the deceased, gone but riding into glory. River Rise is delivered in a similar vein and Shotgun Hearts (with guitar from Will Kimbrough) is a defiant shout out with a little bit of Springsteen hidden within its pulse. Mother Is A Country, the second last song, returns to the personal as Speace waxes poetically on the havens a child can find in its mother’s embrace and love, while allowing for the mother’s sense of emotional turbulence in the wake of giving birth.

The album closes with a warm and cosy rendition of the late Warren Zevon’s Don’t Let Us Get Sick. It’s a come together anthem here, enlivened by the always excellent band playing and a fine two fingers to the pandemic which has blighted all of us. A fine end to an album which is full of the milk of human kindness and which is a glorious listen.

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Dean Owens. The Desert Trilogy EPs Vol. 2 – Sand And Blood

Friday sees the much-anticipated release of the second volume of Dean Owens’ Desert Trilogy – three EPs which each feature a song from his even more anticipated Sinners Shrine album (due for release in September) along with other songs recorded in or inspired by his recent Tucson liaison with Calexico.

Sand And Blood opens with Land Of The Humming Bird, co-written with Gabriel Sullivan of Tucson rockers XIXA (this EP’s sneak preview of the album). It finds Owens fully embedded in the southwest borderlands on a dark romantic song played with an effortless sense of swing. Sergio Mendoza’s piano playing here is excellent while Naim Amor adds some neat guitar grumbles, but it’s Gaby Moreno, duetting with Owens on vocals, who really steals the show here. Owens has a thing for hummingbirds but he’s never made them sound so exotic as he does here.

Dolina casts a darker shadow as the Calexico chaps shift into their most moody groove with staccato trumpets bursts and shards of guitar thrown out like gravel from under a juggernaut’s wheels. The lyrics are menacing, the sand and blood of the EP’s title are to be found here, and the coruscating distortion of Owens’ voice midway through is quite gripping, like watching a cinema giallo unfolding before your eyes. Ashes & Dust is one of the songs worked up internationally during lockdown with the musicians zooming in from Scotland, Texas, Arizona and Berlin. You certainly can’t see (or hear) the joins as it fits in perfectly with the atmosphere summed up in the previous songs. It’s a dustier and drier vision of the desert, summoning up the stark adobe peppered barren landscapes of Leone’s own trilogy. With Owens capturing the inner thoughts of a blessed and cursed individual, like a funeral procession, the song proceeds slowly, the protagonist approaching his own personal Golgotha.

It has to be said that Dolina and Ashes & Dust are both quite tremendous and that neither of them are slated for inclusion on Sinners Shrine just makes one wonder how good that album is going to be. Anyhow, the EP concludes with She Was A Raven which is an alternative take of the opening song. Here they abandon the refined pace of the original and instead sweat it out. Gone is Gaby Moreno, and in her place are Jacob Valenzuela’s rip snorting trumpet trills and Joey Burn’s scathing guitar solo adding up to an almighty rumble.

Sand And Blood is available on a limited edition CD here. The third volume of the Desert Trilogy, Ghosts, will be released in July.

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Songs From The Fans – Chris Cacavas 60. Polythene Records

Today’s the day that Chris Cacavas racks up 60 runs around the sun. In that time, Cacavas has been a founding member of Green On Red, has had a lengthy solo and band career with Junkyard Love, played on innumerable releases by the likes of Giant Sand and Steve Wynn and currently mans the keyboards in the reformed Dream Syndicate. To celebrate his birthday, a host of friends and fellow musicians have recorded this album, comprised of covers of his songs from across his career, a surprise gift from them to him as it’s unleashed today.

Taking part in the enterprise are Calexico, Howe Gelb, Steve Wynn, Chris Eckman, Stephen McCarthy and Russ Tolman, all contemporaries of Cacavas back in the early Serfers/Green On Red Days. Also included are Pat Thomas (who released the first two Junkyard Love albums), Edward Abbiati from Lowlands (who has recorded with Cacavas) and Hakan “Hawk” Soold, who is the executive producer of the album, along with various others who have come into Cacavas’ orbit at some point. Cacavas is criminally underrated in his native USA but has always had a healthy following in Europe, perhaps a factor in his eventually moving to live in Germany, and this disparate bunch reflects his career, from Tucson days to the vineyards of Europe.

Listening to the album one is struck by the quality of the songs, reminding us of how good a songwriter Cacavas is, whether delivering hi octane rockers with a blistering Neil Young like fury or delving into emotional distress. Truth, by The Plastic Pals, Wrecking Yard, here performed by Pat Thomas and Drivin’ Misery, given a fine reading here by Steve Wynn, remind one of what a powerful listen the first Chris Cacavas & Junkyard Love album was. That said, the songs that tumble out here show that the quality control button has always been within his reach with Stephen Mccarthy’s E-Z Living (from the solo album, Anonymous) proving to be particularly poignant while The Surfin’ Nerdz’s delivery of California (Into The Ocean) allows one to consider Cacavas to be as acute an observer of LA malaise as John Murry on his Graceless age album. There are 18 songs here which remake and remodel Cacavas in varying degrees. Calexico transform the churning rock drive of Just Do Something into, well, a Calexico song with their trademark desert shuffle and mariachi horns. Howe Gelb likewise transforms the guitar encrusted howl of Pale Blonde Hell into a heady mix of cocktail exotica and lounge lizard vocals. We haven’t space to talk of all the songs but we can heartily recommend the album to any fan of Chris Cacavas or indeed, anyone with an interest in the so called Paisley Underground and its offshoots.

Happy birthday to Mr. Chris Cacavas.

Songs From The Fans is available on CD and as a download here.