Thursday, December 18, 2008

When The Time Rolls Around

Alright I admit it. It's Xmas.

So a first here at The Kingdom and an official Xmas feast, I mean, post.
And a christmas song that has been posted on the blogosphere before but not recently, is something I've enjoyed for years despite the cultural associations of the season. I guess that part of the joy is that the celebration is for it's own sake, the best of reasons. And it's really the overlaps that make this track shine because it's not really about Xmas at all, it's about New Orleans. And the way Dr John tells it New Orleans already embodies the Xmas Spirit year round.

Xmas in New Orleans - Dr John*

Apparently this, and the other tracks on this album (Zu Zu Man - Trip 9815 from 1975) were recorded as demos back in the days before Mac Rebennack became Dr John The Night Tripper, and the transition is there to be heard clearly in the progression from Trader John to Zu Zu Man, from the kindly but astute pawnshop owner to the Voodoo Medicine Man. So we're back in the mid sixties sometime. Dr John is reportedly unhappy with the release of these tracks and in relation to what he was doing at the time the were released I can see that they were not representative. However when I bought this LP (which has been rearranged and redistributed in many forms over the years) I knew not, and cared less. These are great tracks, and all the better for not being embellished with spit and polish. You can hear a tight band and some catchy tunes that were recorded with the aim of sharing some lovely musical ideas with some sharp and mellow players.

Trader John is a simple funky diatribe about cash on the nail for "anything other than trade or pawn", but the store has everything you'll ever need including Voodoo products unlimited, and Trader John will sort you out if you have the cash.

Trader John - Dr John*

Did She Mention My Name is a totally different attitude in comparison. Sweet and plaintive vocals that put you in mind of the Neville Brothers, as they might have been if they'd done their thing as a vocal group in 1964 instead of more recently. I really had to stop and wonder who could be singing here, but I think it is Rebennack. I'd love to know who else was there, though. The band eases into this with grace and style.

Did She Mention My Name - Dr John*

Xmas in New Orleans is, as I mentioned earlier, a funky and laid back celebration of the perennial party atmosphere that New Orleans is rightly famous for.

*EDIT at least that's what I thought! Dan Phillips over at Home Of The Groove has pointed out that some of the backing tracks feature Dr John (or Mac Rebennack as he was known at the time) but none of the vocals on these tracks are his. More info to follow

And to stay with the season, here is a beautiful let's (not) get together and do a video (not) together and still sound good together (although we're not together) starring Dr John and the equally incomparable Leon Redbone.

And this is what happens when you let your mind get free and your tongue be righteous.
Not for the squeamish or stuck up.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blue Horse Out-take

In a recent discussion about perennial favourite albums - the ones you just have to come back to - I was pushing around the ideas for the runner-ups but I think that Blue Horse by The Be Good Tanyas is probably the favourite returnee in The Kingdom. Made in 2000 with Jolie Holland still a major influence on the sound, it's quirky, sweet, upbeat, downbeat, pretty, profound, soothing and inspiring all at once.

So it was nice to visit their myspace yesterday and find they have contributed to PepperMill Records anthology of songs by, about or for tree planters. And they have contributed an out-take from Blue Horse, with Julie Holland taking lead vocals and going by the name of "Cabin In The Woods". It's a beautiful reminder of where the gals where coming from at the turn of the millenium, musically and spiritually.

Read their description of the recording

The nearest I've got to tree planting is putting in oak and hazel and chestnut and birch, with ash for firewood here at the Kingdom and some fruit trees to follow, so I can be suitably impressed by those crazy souls who wander the uplands of BC with T-shirts shrouding their heads and midge repellent caked on like pan stick. A season of that stuff and you deserve every penny you get and all the good karma you can carry.

The relevant thing to us is, of course, that though the Tanyas are the name band on this compilation, all the tree planting community that I've come across are deep into their music and quite capable of turning a listening ear their way. Go back to the PepperMill Records link and click on a few tracks and see if thereisn't just something special in there.

Might meet you there.

The Be Good Tanyas feat. Jolie Holland- Cabin In The Woods



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