Live!: Jerry Reed

Rating: 90%

r-3046137-1318534382-jpegIn 1979, guitar legend and Country music legend Jerry Reed released “Live!” I have always admired Jerry’s sense of humor and his style of guitar picking. I have always said it, Jerry Reed is Country music’s forgotten hero, both for his song writing and playing.

The “Live!” performance sounds great on vinyl. It’s both up beat and entertaining. This set listing has some of the lesser known songs and a few of his most popular songs including “East Bound and Down.” This live performance also has Jerry Reed entertaining the crowd by telling some stories about the songs or just talking to them.

This live performance begins with a hard hitter “It’s Got To Come Out.” This is one of several songs recorded live that showcases Jerry Reed’s talent on the guitar. It’s up beat and has a fast tempo. “I Wanna Go Back Home To Georgia” has a big female choir and some orchestra. But it balanced well with a soothing sound of guitar picking.  The next song “The Line In Gasoline” is a lively tune with a lot of humor. I love how this song deals with the cost of gasoline. It also has some great banjo and guitar work with a quirky chorus. “Hot Stuff” has a funky tempo and a funky chorus, but it again has some fantastic guitar riffs and leads. “Nine Pound Hammer” takes this traditional song and plays it like no other. It’s his guitar and him. This song alone, is classic Jerry Reed guitar picking. Side A ends with the humorous, tongue and cheek “I Crapped Myself Into The Poorhouse.”

Side B begins with the mild and slow tempo “El Paso” which again showcases what a great guitarist he is. “May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” is an up beat high flying tune. “I’m Your Guitar” is a reflection of his guitar and the story of his guitar that is told by Jerry Reed. This is the long drawn out spoken lead up to “Guitar Man.” Great story, but this bogs the live performance down a bit. “Guitar Man” and “East Bound and Down” both are the grand finale and are what makes this live performance both energetic and entertaining.

Side One:

A1 Introduction 0:43
A2 It’s Got To Come Out 2:15
A3 I Wanna Go Back Home To Georgia (AKA Little Things) 3:17
A4 (Who Was The Man Who Put) The Line In Gasoline 2:50
A5 Hot Stuff 2:27
A6 Nine Pound Hammer 1:06
A7 I Crapped Myself Into The Poorhouse 1:40

Side Two:

B1 El Paso 2:13
B2 May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose 1:12
B3 I’m Your Guitar 1:13
B4 Guitar Man 2:40
B5 East Bound And Down 3:29

I Feel Alright: Steve Earle

Rating: 85%

Steve_Earle_-_I_Feel_Alright_CoverartI’ve always liked Steve Earle since “Copperhead Road” was released in 1988. He fuses country, folk and rock into his own brand of Country Rock music. This fusion is what I liked about his music. It was like listening to Tom Petty, Merle Haggard, John Mellencamp and Neil Young all in one.

Steve Earle released “I Feel Alright” in 1996. This album has some really great songs on here. The title track for one “Feel Alright” has a lot of attitude and is like a tiger that has been let out of the cage. It has a heavy acoustical opening which is quickly followed by the rest of the band. His southern drenched raspy voice is amazing.

“Hurtin’ Me, Hurtin’ You” is another great song off this album. It starts out as a country slow song. But by the second verse, the music deepens. The chorus is a mixture of clear undistorted guitars, while a lightly distorted guitar is in the background. Then the bridge comes which is sloppy, but, it’s a work of art at the same time. You can feel the pain in this song from the music to the way Steve Earle sings.

“Poor Boy” is a nice piece of Country music that is influenced by Rockabilly. The melody and tempo are both a nice nod to the old days of Johnny Cash.

“The Unrepentant” is the heaviest song on this album. The electric guitar on this song is borderline Hard Rock. The drumming is very aggressive and features a few offbeats that is not normally found in Country music. The lead on this track is great. It has a groovy riff too.

“CCKMP” or “Cocaine Can’t Kill My Pain” is about the drug addition that grasped Steve’s life. It’s just Steve and a Dobro. The song itself has a very eerie, deep and heavy sound to it. It’s aggressive lyrics and vocal style is so evil.

This album is not a bad album. There are many good songs on this album that are uplifting and some that are just downright sad. These songs are part of Steve’s recovery and therefore, are coming from his heart.

Track Listing:

“Feel Alright” — 3:04
“Hard-Core Troubadour” — 2:41
“More Than I Can Do” — 2:37
“Hurtin’ Me, Hurtin’ You” — 3:21
“Now She’s Gone” — 2:48
“Poor Boy” — 2:55
“Valentine’s Day” — 2:59
“The Unrepentant” — 4:31
“CCKMP” — 4:30
“Billy and Bonnie” — 3:39
“South Nashville Blues” — 3:39
“You’re Still Standin’ There” — 3:24

Sweet Love Feelings: Jerry Reed

Rating: 80%

Jerry-Reed-Sweet-Love-Feelin-536230Riding the tide of Smokey Bandit, Jerry Reed released “Sweet Love Feelings” in 1978. This album is a mixture of classic Country music mixed with a dash of the Bayou and a touch of Disco. It also features the love song “(I Love You) What Can I Say.”

Musically, this album is good. It features Jerry’s classic guitar picking and chords.  There’s a good bit of lead guitar on this record. The song structures are blended to where the Country-Pop and traditional Country are still vibrantly heard. Jerry does pull from some of his Rockabilly styles and collides them with some of the more progressive styles. Jerry’s vocal work is still top notch.

Track listing:

A1 Sweet Love Feelings
A2 Louisiana Lady
A3 Reverend Joe Henry
A4 You Know What
A5 I Feel For You
B1 (I Love You) What Can I Say
B2 Hold Tight
B3 Banjo Man
B4 You’re Gonna Need Someone
B5 Busted

Self-titled: Crazy Horse

Rating: 85%

CrazyHorseCDThe year was 1971, and after recording with Neil Young in 1969 and 1970, Crazy Horse released their self-titled debut record. Prior to the recording with Neil Young, Crazy Horse was known as the Rockets which released their first album in 1968, where they soon became the backing band for Neil Young after he left Buffalo Springfield. Crazy Horse was made up of guitarist and vocalist Danny Whitten, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina who also sang lead vocals on “Dance Dance Dance”, a song written by Neil Young. The band hired guitarist Nils Lofgren and pianist Jack Nitzsche.

Crazy Horse takes their musical influences from hard rock and country rock of the day. Fusing the two genres and adding a dash of folk rock to it. Although, their sound is a bit different than that of the backing band for Neil Young, Crazy Horse proves they can stand and hold their own ground. The album has an even keel tempo throughout the majority of the record. Lots of great guitar riffs and added to Danny Whitten vocals, the album is very good. “Downtown” and “Dirty, Dirty” are great examples. The Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young style of backing vocals give this album a more folk rock sound. The song structures are written very well, from the melody to the actual lyrics themselves. Some of the songs, one would recognize from the recordings Neil Young’s “Tonight’s the Night” which features “Downtown” and “After the Gold Rush” which features the song “Dance, Dance, Dance.”

This was the only Crazy Horse album to feature Danny Whitten as he died in 1972 from his drug use. Danny died the same night that Neil Young sent him packing for home on November 18. Neil Young wrote the song “The Needle and the Damage Done” because of Whitten’s drug use which was released on the “Harvest” album.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Gone Dead Train”
2. “Dance, Dance, Dance”
3. “Look at All the Things”
4. “Beggars Day”
5. “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”
Side two
1. “Downtown”
2. “Carolay”
3. “Dirty, Dirty”
4. “Nobody”
5. “I’ll Get By”
6. “Crow Jane Lady”

Strong Stuff: Hank Williams Jr

Rating: 90%

StrongStuff.jpg“Strong Stuff” released in 1983 by Hank Williams Jr. is one of my all time favorites country records by Hank Jr. It’s a collection of songs that are heavier, leaning toward Southern Rock. You can hear it on “La Grange” and “Blue Jean Blues”, both of which are ZZ Top songs and the “Made in the Shade” which is a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Some of the other songs that Hank wrote like “Gonna Go Huntin’ Tonight” and “In the Arms of Cocaine” too are heavier than some of his previous songs.

The songs structure are nicely done. This album surely is one of Hank Jr.’s classic albums. The entire album is very enjoyable to listen to. “Leave Them Boys Alone” features Waylon Jennings and Ernest Tubb on backing vocals. “A Whole Lot of Hank” pay tribute to Jr.’s father Hank Sr., while “In the Arms of Cocaine” deals with the issues of drug use by two lovers.

Track listing:

1.”Gonna Go Huntin’ Tonight” 2:36
2.”La Grange” 5:21
3.”A Whole Lot of Hank” 2:55
4.”Made in the Shade” 4:35
5.”Leave Them Boys Alone” 3:36
6.”The Girl on the Front Row at Fort Worth” 2:38
7.”The Homecoming Queen”4:22
8.”Blue Jean Blues” 4:07
9.”Twodot Montana” 2:39
10.”In the Arms of Cocaine” 4:08

Déjà Vu: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Rating: 90%

Crosby,_Stills,_Nash_&_Young_-_Deja_Vu.jpgOn March 11, 1970 after riding the tide of Woodstock, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Neil Young released “Déjà Vu.” They were the hottest group raging across America. The four men needed to recapture that energy with an official release. “Déjà Vu” was that album. Although, I am not a huge fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, this is one of my favorite albums released by the super group.

The harmony of the four vocalist group is amazing. The songs are great including my favorite “Helpless” and “Country Girl.” The rock anthem for long hair “Almost Cut My Hair” by David Crosby is still a classic. “4 + 20” is another great acoustical track that features Stephen Stills on vocals.

This album features many different song styles and structures. The album musically, contains elements of folk, country, blues and rock. If you’re a fan of Neil Young, you’ll know it’s his song or if he’s playing lead just by his sound and style. Just like Stephen Stills style is heard clearly on each track.

The band itself features drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves. A notable personnel member includes Jerry Garcia  of the Grateful Dead playing the steel guitar on “Teach Your Children.”

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Carry On” Stephen Stills Stills 4:26
2. “Teach Your Children” Graham Nash Nash 2:53
3. “Almost Cut My Hair” David Crosby Crosby 4:31
4. “Helpless” Neil Young Young 3:33
5. “Woodstock” Joni Mitchell Stills 3:54

Side two
1. “Déjà Vu” David Crosby Crosby 4:12
2. “Our House” Graham Nash Nash 2:59
3. “4 + 20” Stephen Stills Stills 2:04
4. “Country Girl (Whiskey Boot Hill/Down Down Down/”Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty))” Neil Young Young with Crosby, Stills & Nash 5:11
5. “Everybody I Love You” Stephen Stills, Neil Young Stills with Crosby & Nash 2:21

Hanks & Doves: Neil Young

Rating: 75%

Neil_Young_Hawks_DovesAfter riding the heaviness of “Rust Never Sleeps”, Neil Young decided to step back and record a much shorter and softer album. In 1980, “Hawks & Doves” was released. This album to me is a decent album, but musically, Neil is skimming the bottom of the barrel. Many of the songs come in under three minutes. It seems lyrically, Neil was just writing songs to fulfill his obligations to his record contract.

Musically, we have Neil Young combining elements of folk, country, and rock together creating some songs that are true Neil Young styles. While others, are songs that didn’t make his previous records that were thrown onto this record. As side one and side two are completely different in musical styles.

Side one is very mellow with Neil playing acoustically with other band mates including long time friend Ben Keith. Side one is also very heavy on the folk side.  The songs themselves are OK, my least favorite is “Lost in Space” which to me is a children song that drags on.

Side two is a bit different. It’s more focused on the country music sound like you hear on “Stars and Bars.” I love the raw sound of side two and “Union Man” and “Comin’ Apart at Every Nail” are true classic Neil Young songs.

Although, many disagreed with the type of right wing lyrical themes on this album, I thought that this album was good. Is it the best? No! Not even close. But this album does deserve to be recognized. There are some good songs on this album, but it may take a few listens for you to find those songs as I did.

Track listing:

1. “Little Wing” 2:10
2. “The Old Homestead” 7:38
3. “Lost in Space” 4:13
4. “Captain Kennedy” 2:50
5. “Stayin’ Power” 2:17
6. “Coastline” 2:24
7. “Union Man” 2:08
8. “Comin’ Apart at Every Nail” 2:33
9. “Hawks & Doves” 3:27