The Freelance Mentalists.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
 
Don Allred's Country 07 Comments pt. 5
At my aunt's memorial service, the program included an
African-American-sounding hymn (ca. late 18th, mid-19th Century
transcription? Or later, probably, transcription-wise), "Come Away To
The Skies": "Come away to the skies, my beloved arise, and rejoice in
the day thou was born." Piano, vocals, slight trills, suggesting
wings. "Wast"? Never heard that, or any of this song before; amazing
(and graceful). She was once referrfed to as "the Dolly Parton of
classical and Baptist music." Meant as a compliment, and rightfully
so. Recalled the pastor, who also has a bluegrass band," She played
forte. A member complained, and she asked what she should do. Ah told
her, 'Play louder.' "
The Charlie Daniels Band's Deuces is Charlie's duets album, with his
stalwarts serving here as first-class bar band, hoisting a set of
covers and re-hashed personal chesnuts. No Z Z Top numbers, much less
guest shots, alas (see CDB's Tailgate Party for the former, and other
good cover versions)(for a contrast/compare session with Z Z and CDB's POVs, please see my "Sharp Blessed Men" archived at villagevoice.com) But "Jackson," with cool-wailin' Gretchen
Wilson, has a sleek stomp and kick, somewhut a la Z Z. Descending
porch bass notes are greeted by wristwatch-tapping rhythm guitar, in
"Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours," with Bonnie Bramlett. Even the
lesser tracks are rattled along by the characteristically, expertly
harnessed speediness, which sometimes gets looser and surfaces as
anxiety in his manifestos. But on this album, "Let It Be Me" (with
Brenda Lee) is more poignant for its briskness, its flexing: the
female duet partners, especially, know how to soothe him (and the old,
familiar songs) just enough, to bring out the brio over the
brittleness. Without undue earnestness getting in the way---like Vince
Gill does on "The Night The Drove Old Dixie Down." (Contrast with the
Allman Brothers Band's version on Endless Highway: they don't allow
themselves to solo much, much less over-emote—Gregg doesn't even
groan! But he's appropriately unhappy.) The Scruggs brothers whine
their way through "Maggie's Farm"; they should please shut up and
pick, like Daddy Earl does. Still, Charlie and Darius Rucker have a
fine time zinging the hapless, right through "Like A Rolling Stone,"
like Perez Hilton and Michael Musto with better material. The joke's
on Charlie in "Evangeline" ("I hear your laughter in the rain"), where
he's ably assisted by the Del McCoury Band (haven't yet determined
whether CDB also plays on the tracks featuring guest instrumental
chunks), and Del himself sounds swell, in homage to Elmer Fudd (a
supporting role, and he's fine with it, as always; suits him better
than solo spotlights). "What'd I Say" is filigreed with the curly
burly slightly furtive sub-Ray intonation of Travis Tritt's trivia;
"Daddy's Old Fiddle" doesn't have enough of Charlie's old fiddle or
Dolly Parton's old schtick (she's expressing interest like a
politician on an off day); "Long Haired Country Boy" is best of the
superfluous, with Brooks & Dunn clapping along and staying out of the
way of the song's long-lidded, don't-tread-on-me undercurrent. Charlie
don't "take a toke" here no more, but the line about the TV preacher
stays, despite his own return to the fold, and it foreshadows the
advent of "God Save Us From Religion," with Charlie's fellow deacon,
Marty Stuart. The title is the sumna of a "barroom philosopher,"
who's mainly building a castle of bottle caps, but Charlie and Marty
are surely with him. Charlie and Montgomery Gentry are all big,
high-strung, hit-the-note guys together on "Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye,"
and finally, we get an actual instrumental, "Jammin' For Stevie," with
Charlie and Brad Paisley trading well-considered, enterprising guitar
stunts, proving that Southern Rock can still be more than a museum.
Nice vapor trails and aftervibes to end the album on a peak; as
Paisley would say, it (and at least 60 %of the CD) is "time well
wasted," to say the least. (I'm under-rating a little, in honor of Charlie's
currently evident allegiance to "Always leave 'em wanting more.")
PS: listening to a song on the radio: haven't quite yet got who's
doing what to whom, but it's a quietly shapely tune, passing through
stoned beauty, way under the saucer, under the formica tabletop, in
the slightly blurred, burred chorus, the soothing monotony, and Paul
Newman's just met Piper Laurie, they're sitting in a booth in a bar in
the gray daylight, and he's watching her talk just a little too
carefully, as she gets wasted (he's trained to watch people, no matter
what). Although she's dedicated to getting her courage up, stoned song
baby's been there done there. ("Morphine" something, by Gillian Welch
and David Rawlings, on a live broadcast; they're always better live,
breathing better, reaching, finding an audience in front of them, and
something else I can't see, can Paul? Does it and how does it matter,
considering what will happen? It makes some kind of difference,
differences, to the audience, while the scene continues, and sometimes
after the show's over)(ebba debba th-th-th-that's all foldkz!)

.

 
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