Some simple forays into the music today.
On a prestigious critical recommendation, I sampled Armadilloes & Outlaws, a new compilation surveying country’s “Roaring ’70s” and purporting (or seeming to purport) to represent the range of players involved. I am already well-versed in the stuff, but I’d heard there were surprises. There were a few good ones: a Jessie Colter tune I really dug, a new-to-me Tom T. Hall cautionary, an incandescent early version (I think–I have no notes) of “Dallas” by the Flatlanders, and Lou Ann Barton taking on an Irma Thomas classic fronting an early version of Stevie Ray’s Double Trouble. But. The rest of the solid tracks are totally predictable. The proto-outlaw Doug Sahm is unaccountably missing–his influence is too strong for him to be omitted, and there’s plenty cross-licensing power behind the collection. [CORRECTION: Sahm’s “Groover’s Paradise” (and a few others I didn’t hear yesterday, are included in the album but not available for streaming, for some reason. Those significantly upgrade the overall quality—but I still consider it an infield single, if you will.] And there is baaaaaad shit. David Allan Coe’s “I Still Sing the Old Songs” is unspeakable Confederate apologist nostalgia; the usually good for a laugh Bobby Bare and the overly vaunted Jerry Jeff Walker are avert-your-ears dated; and Michael Murphy should have just kept on ridin’ into the cosmos–out of earshot. I usually abjure the dis, but this compilation could have been leagues stronger, and more representative.
I am reading Steven L. Isoardi’s outstanding overview of the South Central Los Angeles jazz scene and social environment surrounding the too-little-known giant Horace Tapscott, The Dark Tree; the title comes from one of Tapscott’s greatest compositions. I’m only a quarter in, but today I encountered a story of a bespectacled alto saxophonist who entered Tapscott’s circle, which was filled with fearsome players, and just cut heads. Jimmy Woods was the name, and agile, speedy, inventive lines were apparently his game. I look forward to more musical discoveries from Mr. Isoardi.