He’s only gone crazy once. Decided to stay……

... is a quote from Townes van Zandt about his friend Blaze Foley (real name Michael David Fuller), Blaze is a guy whose music I came across through his links to Townes, one of those legendary larger than life characters, he died tragically in 1989 after being shot when coming to the aid of a friend who was under violent attack from his son, at the subsequent trial the son was found not guilty of murder in the first degree on the grounds of self-defence.

All but one of the album releases – a rare self titled vinyl issue– by Blaze were released posthumously and are available from the usual outlets as downloads and CD’s

Oval Room (Amazon Link)
Wanted More Dead Than Alive (Amazon Link)
Blaze Foley and the Beaver Valley Boys
Live At the Austin Outhouse

There may have been more releases if lady luck had been kinder to Blaze, one set of studio master tapes were lost when the car they were in was stolen and another set were supposed to have being confiscated by the DEA during a drug bust involving the albums producer.

A number of tribute albums followed Blaze’s death and were released by Deep South Production Blaze Tributes, there is also a documentary that has been sometime in the making and a book, you can get more info on the MySpace page here and listen to a few tracks and play some youtubes whilst you’re over there Blaze MySpace

There’s a great article here by Joe Nick Patoski and some further reading here written by Austin DJ Larry Monroe over on wiki there a lot more info too and some goods links to further stuff about Blaze.

Fellow artists Townes van Zandt and Lucinda Williams both wrote songs in tribute to Blaze, Townes wrote “Blaze’s Blues” which appeared on his 1994 album No Deeper Blue and Lucinda “Drunken Angel” which appeared on her break through album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road in 1998, Blaze was a fan of John Prine who later recorded his song “Clay Pigeons” which was released on his album Fair & Square, all three of which you can listen too here………

You can download here a tribute concert to recorded in 1984 featuring Blaze and Townes includes the artwork.
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I’m In Love with Hank – Steve Earle BBC Radio 2

For anyone who missed it the first time around here’s the BBC Radio 2 series “I Love Hank” presented by Steve Earle, originally broadcast as five half hour shows, it’s well worth a listen, a great rockdoc for any Hank fans

I Love Hank

“Dead at the age of 29, Hank Williams Snr. nonetheless managed to create such a body of work that he is now seen as the founding father of modern country music. In his short career – only 6 years – he cut over 170 songs, many of them now classics, which have been recorded by nearly everyone who is anyone in country.
His first songs were made and released 60 years ago in 1946 after he moved to Nashville and impressed the legendary Fred Rose who took the 23 year old Hank under his wing, acting as his manager, record producer and co-writer. Williams soon became a regular on the prestigious radio show “The Louisiana Hayride” and then later at the classic country venue the Grand Ole Opry; on his first appearance he performed his first hit “Lovesick Blues” leading to an unprecedented six encores.

Hit after hit came from his pen – “I’m so Lonesome I could Cry”, “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”, “Moanin’ the Blues”, “Why don’t you Love Me?”, “Cold Cold Heart”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” “Hey Good Lookin'” and “Jambalaya” being just a very few of the classic numbers that in later years became hits for artists like Tony Bennett, Jo Stafford, Joni James and the Carpenters.

Hank Williams’s life was a troubled one – spina bifida made worse through a riding accident caused him constant pain and he drank to excess and took drugs, mostly painkillers; but on top of that, he was one of the music business’s first rowdies – he played with guns, destroyed hotel rooms and generally acted out a life style the rock stars of the 60s thought they had invented.

He was fired from the Grand Ole Opry and the 50s saw his career decline as musicians and booking agents increasingly saw him as a problem. He battled with his mother and wife Audrey, whom he divorced and then later with second wife Billie Jean Jones; his early death came, ironically, in the back of a car after the plane hired to take him to a gig had been cancelled because of a blizzard – ironic because the gig was to feature Hawkshaw Hawkins, who later died in a plane crash with Cowboy Copas and Patsy Cline, a crash caused by…. a blizzard.

Since that tragic death, Hank Williams’s star has risen to the point where country stars of every stripe acknowledge him as the founding father – many have name-checked him in songs, such as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Tim Hardin and Moe Bandy “

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch……

……….well there’s a help yourself buffet of tunes available on the interweb these days, trouble is separating the mediocre from the the quality, may I recommend Amber Dust

The Boat was one of the tracks I played most during 2008, was hooked from the opening 10 seconds, just drew me in, hook, line and sinker. Purveyors of quality music like this deserve a larger audience, technology has allowed artists to make so much available to so many, that often the best gets overlooked in the mêlée , I ‘m looking forward to the album they are currently working as much as any “formal” release this year.

One of my favourite releases from last year was the bands EP Good Things / Bad Timing, you can get your copy here, it’s free, gratis, sweet fanny adam, well okay technically you’re paying for the bytes and bits you’re downloading………unless of course you have a generous employer 🙂

Don’t stop there, make sure you get the previous release too Without Windows.

Got it yet, listened to Sunset Comes, what do you think, for the record it’s one of my favourite tracks of the last few years and features on any kind of CD sampler I do for friends and colleagues who don’t know the pleasures of americana, the track is pure gold, just love the way the frail opening gets your attention and the keyboard and guitar kicks in……………..

The download’s include artwork and lyrics, get your copy while stocks last.
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Live & Kicking

So having had a blog for while without actually posting anything, here’s my first foray into the murky & subversive world of blogging.

Recently I’ve been listening to quite a lot of non-studio music, live shows, radio performances, that kind of thing, I still find it enlightening how certain tracks I never rated highly suddenly jump out as being masterpieces when heard live. It may be a mood thing? maybe to my ears the lyrics get diluted in the studio production? sometimes more is less and can the real atmospheric of a raw live performance be reproduced in the studio? there’s no doubt that sometimes the beauty of a song can be lost in the studio, the mood removed by unsympathetic production, the playing lost in a muddy mix, I guess in part that’s why I like a lot of americana music that often takes the lo-fi approach.

I was debating with a friend recently about the joys of listening to live music, he was unconvinced and couldn’t see any merit in listening to amateur recordings with the crackle, hiss, crowd noise or why I would want to own a copy of any of the @ The BBC albums for instance when I already have all but a couple of the tracks on studio albums, each to their own as they say, but for me there are magical moments to be missed by overlooking live albums and bootlegs.

There are so many blogs and websites around offering live shows and tracks it’s no longer a ball-ache to get hold of “bootleg” music, the only problem is finding the time to listen to it all, the Internet Archive live music section has 358 shows available for the Drive-By Truckers, that’s what, around a month’s worth of listening assuming you could stay awake around the clock.

So for your listening pleasure here it is a “mixtape” of some of my favourite live tracks, it may give you a few clues to what type of music you can expect to see around here in the future.

There’s are are few cover versions too, including Josh Ritter doing Springsteen’s The River and Mary Lou Lord’s take on Thunder Road, there’s also a stellar version of Light Enough to Travel by the wonderful The Be Good Tanya’s and Loomers – Anastasia from a BBC session that’s better than the album version to my ear plus tracks from Ray Davies, Paul Weller, Damien Rice, Centro-Matic, Blaze Foley, Dan Bern amongst others and given the current situation in the middle-east a rather poignant Steve Earle track, there’s a full track listing in the download.
So much music, so little time.
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