Read Review




Ace (CDCH2 1266)

Alejandro Escovedo, Selena, Linda Lyndell, Sam The Sham, Dale Watson, Mable John, Marlena Shaw, Memphis Minnie,  The Dells, Furry Lewis, Pipestone, Johnny Farmer,  Townes Van Zandt, Diana Jones, Hound Dog Taylor, Lefty Frizell, Lydia Mendoza, OV Wright etc.

Garth Cartwright compiled this 38 track 2CD set as a companion to his best-selling book of the same name about his own journey through the indigenous music of the USA. I've not read the book yet but judging by the choice of music and the sharp little track annotations, it won't be long before I do.

The music here comes from all corners of America covering most of the genres, blues, soul, funk, country, Tex-Mex, mariachi, pow-wow, rock'n'roll and more. It's an ideal introduction to anyone dipping into American roots music but more than that, it even holds quite a few surprises for hardcore dyed in the wool fans like me.

A few old favourites like RL Burnside's scathing slide guitar classic Over the Hill, Sonny Boy Williamson's most soulful Mighty Long Time, Lydia Mendoza's divine 1979 recording of Mi Problema and OV Wright's stunning tour-de-force That's How Strong My Love Is nestle snugly along side stuff that I've missed over the years. I'm talking about Lefty Frizell's tortured tear-jerker How Far Down Can I Go, The Dells uptown arrangement of Dock Of The Bay, Linda Lyndell's spacious slice of blue-eyed soul I Don't Know and Giant Sands hollow, slightly dissonant sad song Astonished (In Memphis).

This compilation includes more than its fair share of stand-out musicians - and you can include Kell Robertson, Diana Jones, JJ Grey & Mofro and Dale Watson in that lot. Kell opens his Texas Hood Song with a carefree yodel then proceeds to introduce verse after verse of well worn blues lyrics to a free-wheelin' West Texas ramble while Dale Watson hits the stage running with a pure country heart as big as Ernest Tubbs on the unissued honky tonk gem Ain't That Leavin'.  JJ Grey and Mofro's Turpentine is a big guitar choogle full of great chord changes and a swampy mix that you can blame on Tony Joe White. Diana Jones' magnificent song Pony is a heart-breaking narrative tale of a Native American girl forcibly removed from her plains family and is the kind of story telling masterwork you don't hear much of these days. Speaking of Native Americans, Pipeline, a round dance troupe from a reservation in Wisconsin provide a stomping Crazy Love Life that simply thuds with heavy drumbeats, traditional chants and a couple of verses that moan about bad girls! It's yet another terrific track among many.

Believe me, Garth Cartwright has picked some rollicking good material here - something great happens in every track. Highly recommended, if the book's half as good as the soundtrack I'm in for another treat.

Ask for CDCH2 1266. This 2CD only £14.50 plus p&p here at Red Lick.


Review Date: August 2010

Go Back to Reviews