The Weekly Jive

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Posted February 25, 2009 in Music

Chris Darrow—Chris Darrow/Under My Own Disguise (Everloving Records)

Chris Darrow’s name is footnote to a late-’60s/early ’70s, So-Cal psychedelic country scene that birthed the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the reissue of his two solo records, however welcome, probably won’t change that. Long a cult figure with deep-catalog fans of the era, Darrow began with ’60s psych-country experimentalists Kaleidoscope and moved to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band before going out on his own. These two records act like a guidebook to the era, Darrow’s eponymous release (’73) leaning more adventurous, Disguise (’74) tilting more country and sounding less dated. Eschewing instruments like the saz and harpsichord that burden some of his debut’s cuts, and ignoring Kaleidoscope’s tendency toward mawkish versions of public domain standards, Darrow’s easy-going twang is replete with pedal steel swells and laid-back, stoner-friendly lyrics, but map-hops for a variety of intriguing accents. “A Masquerader” recalls The Band at their most wistful, “Maybe It’s Just As Well” taps into the same Southern vibe the Marshall Tucker Band did, “Living Like a Fool” could have come from Gram Parsons’ pen, and the fiddle-led “Old Scratch” is fiery Brit-folk; all come from Disguise, a near-classic of the genre—no matter how few know it. (John Schacht)

 

Thin Lizzy—Still Dangerous (VH1 Classic Records)

Thin Lizzy were a 1970s anomaly: a swaggering Irish hard rock band that embraced traditional Celtic influences, fronted by a black man (the late Phil Lynott), that hit its stride just as punk torpedoed all that was hesher ‘n’ hairy.  Still Dangerous is 10 songs recorded live at Philadelphia’s Tower Theatre in 1977, buffed-up by producers Glyn Johns and (Lizzy guitarist) Scott Gorham. Though Thin Lizzy’s stateside popularity never matched their global profile, this concert happened at the height of their powers, shortly after the release of two of their classic singles “The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Jailbreak.” Still Dangerous will inevitably draw comparisons with 1978’s hit double live concert disc Live and Dangerous. In the plus column, the new record is more concise (being just a single disc), enjoys a slightly more hi-fi production, and includes two tunes—“Opium Trail” and “Soldier of Fortune”—not found on the earlier collection. On the downside, it’s more of the same, right down to Lynott’s between-song banter. If you’re a Thin Lizzy completist, you’ve already ordered Still Dangerous; if you’re new to the band, invest in Live and Dangerous first. (Paul Rogers)

 

The Traditionist—Season to Season (Better Looking/Banter)

Entering rock’s second half-century, calling your solo project by this name could suggest any sonic reference point. But Joey Barro, the mind and most of the music behind The Traditionist (Mother Hips’ Tim Bluhm lends a hand), isn’t alluding to the pillars of the Harry Smith Anthology so much as the home-studio alchemists of the previous decade. Season is sparser and sonically more adventurous than Barro’s full-time band, The Antiques. But its subtle droning synths and treated guitar solos don’t stray far from that band’s sense of melody, acting more like shading here than building blocks. Barro uses irony like a slightly less downcast Eels to pull the stinger from his love-gone-south lyrics, but by stopping short of hipster snark gives the confessional narratives an empathetic entry point. There’s a dreamy flow throughout, landing the more experimental stuff near Grandaddy’s more wistful moments, and the twangier cuts between Neil Young, vintage Smog, and the Velvet Underground’s drone-y acoustic rock. Nearly half the tracks exceed five minutes, and the two seven-minute-plus songs back-to-back reads a little willfully difficult. A trim wouldn’t hurt, but otherwise this is one of those modest home-spun gems that act as antidote to rock’s bloated excesses. (John Schacht)

 

 


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