2005 ISSUE #77
Cash: The Complete Sun Recordings 1955-1958
Time Life Records
61 song 3 CD Set
How do you stress and/or classify the importance
of Johnny Cash's earliest hit recordings for Sun Records? To call
them mere classics is certainly doing them no justice, for here
we have tracks like Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk The Line, and
Big River---songs that have become part of the proverbial American
fabric, much less music history. As these hit songs have grown
in stature over the years, and have filled many a Cash compilation,
many other songs from that era have suffered neglect in turn.
Thankfully, Time Life has rectified the situation
by releasing The Complete Sun Recordings 19555-1958. Not only
do we get the songs that made him famous, we also get an overall
look at the beginnings of the legend, warts and all. The recordings
from that era are all culled together here on three discs, with
about 20 tracks on each one.
The result is a collection that is comprehensive,
yet not overwhelming. Since this covers only the first three years
of his career, it doesn't get bogged down too quickly, even with
the false starts and outtakes which are scattered throughout the
set. So in that respect, it is a good starting place for new fans
who are curious about Johnny Cash---everything you need to know
about his beginnings (musically, at least) is right here.
From this set it is easy to springboard into the
Columbia Records years, where Cash was able to crossover from
country singer to international superstar in the coming decades.
Perhaps most notable about the Sun recordings is
that it shows Cash was an outsider at the very beginning, an artist
who didn't sound like anyone else in music. Part rock, part country,
and part gospel, Cash carved out a niche which was all his own,
possibly only rivaled by Elvis in that regard. The difference
being that Cash remained the outsider to the end, eschewing popular
trends and fashion statements throughout his storied career. Add
to that an air of mystery, revolving around a conflicting image
which was a combination of angel and devil all rolled up into
Johnny Cash was not just a musical icon, he was
an American one. This release shows us the foundation that idea
was built upon. His style and substance was there at the very
start, and the Sun recordings are a document of that fact.
MISH MASH Mandate: I Hear The Train A'Comin'
Time Life Music
HEY BANDS! OPEN YOUR OWN ONLINE T-SHIRT
SHOP FOR FREE!
New Music Reviews
Mr. Gnome is a guitar-and-drum-based male/female duo, sorta like The
White Stripes---only in reverse, with Nicole Barille on vocals &
guitar and Sam Meister on drums. I know what you're thinking, and
don't worry, that's where the similarities end.
Echoes On The Ground
5 song CD
They don't sound much like the aforementioned Stripes, as they
embrace the trippiness of Portishead and the quirky vocal-style
of Bjork in conjunction with the noisy guitar noodling. After the
brash opening of Drunky Stoney, the duo settles into a mix of abstract
dynamics, bringing in offbeat rhythms and dissonant guitars which
evoke The Sugarcubes more than Jack White.
With only two instruments, the disc has a very open feel, and as
they aren't weighted down with sound, the five songs pass by way
too quickly. Here's hoping they have a few more tunes up their sleeve,
and that there's more to come.
MISH MASH Mandate: Of A Different Stripe
Mr. Gnome Website
Echo Is Your Love
Paper Cut Eye
If Society / Stickfigure
12 song CD
Hailing from Scandinavia, Echo Is Your Love merges a wealth of
cacophonous European influences into one mean package. Part punk,
part industrial, part gothic, with lots of indie rock dissonance
thrown in for good measure. At first you are struck by the amount
of noise and conflicting sounds, but then the melody comes shining
through in spite of itself---deftly avoiding the usual pop traps.
With that having been said, it's hard to point to any particular
songs and call them highlights, as this album is best taken as a
whole. The more you listen, the more the music comes alive---aggressively
hitting you from every side.
MISH MASH Mandate: Echo Chamber
If Society Website
With Gerald McClendon
Sleeping While The River
Sleeping Dog Records
17 song CD
The problem that usually plagues contemporary blues is the past---what
I mean is, it seems that all the good blues happened at least
25 years ago. Thankfully, Mother Blues has avoided this trap of
"remember when"---not only do they emulate the great
blues of yesteryear, they do it with a freshness that I haven't
heard in a long, long time.
There are two reasons for that: the dirty and emotive blues guitar
of Steve Bramer and the classic r&b vocals of Gerald McClendon.
They are a perfect match, as Bramer rips out the licks like Albert
King, and McClendon serenades with a soulful strut that brings
back the nostalgic sounds of old Stax. This combination proves
to be a powerful mix, turning an otherwise standard blues record
into an unforgettable experience.
MISH MASH Mandate: Blues Brothers
Sleeping Dog Records
10 song CD
What happens when angst-ridden indie rock collides with roots rock
head-on? You get self-sensitive introverted pop laced with the rolling
sounds of a Hammond B3, and if you're lucky, a song produced by
none other than soul man Solomon Burke. If that doesn't pique
your curiosity, nothing will.
The album begins with quiet misery, showing the band standing
in their best woe-is-me posture for the first five songs. It's not
until the track She Ain't My Baby that the soul connection starts
to shine through. It's not exactly a happy song, but it almost cracks
a smile with sharp handclaps and a driving back beat. The Burke-produced
track, Goodbye Baby, is sort of a combination of the two ideas.
It starts out with a rambling piano line and a shout-it-out vocal
refrain, which soon drifts back and forth, into and out of melancholy.
MISH MASH Mandate: Teen Steam
Teenage Prayers Website
13 Song CD
It's fair to say that the duet Round Mountain has taken world folk
music into the extreme. Robby and Char Rothschild weave together
a wild variety of styles and acoustic instrumentation to create
a sound which is diverse in every which way it can be.
You can hear elements of American folk mixed in with celtic sounds
and African rhythms---or is it Eastern sounds and South American
rhythms? It doesn't matter, because they're all in there somewhere.
The remarkable thing is that it works perfectly. They embrace
every culture to the point where it's hard to determine where
one begins and the other ends, all the while maintaining a song
structure and melody which makes you want to sing along.
MISH MASH Mandate: It's A Small World After All
Round Mountain Website
Taking The Air
14 song CD
Shawn Prescott Haussler begins her album with a lonely whistle calling
out into the openess. It's a lovely way to begin a disc dedicated
to the Irish airs, and just when you think you've got it figured
out, Haussler throws in a twist. Halfway through the opening track,
a jazzy guitar jumps in to add a whole new dimension to the tune---transitioning
from traditional air to jazzed-out jig in a matter of two steps.
Throughout the album, Haussler takes control in most of the songs,
by singing, playing the flute, the whistle, the harp, guitar, and
djembe. Her voice is haunting, quiet and low---the fitting vocals
for such a misty and understated musical backdrop.
It's obvious that this is Haussler's labour of love, as her heart
and soul come shining through in these songs.
MISH MASH Mandate: Breathing It In
Shawn Prescott Haussler Website
Oxford American Magazine
Southern Music CD
Oxford American Issue 50
29 song CD
In case you haven't familiarized yourself with the righteously famous
music edition of Oxford American Magazine, then get yourself out
right now and track it down at your neighborhood newstand before
they sell out---you won't regret it.
This edition centers on Southern-tinged music in a variety of
genres spanning mutliple generations, from country to folk to psychedelic,
an eclectic selection that shows off the South's gloried musical
past. The magazine itself is filled with features about the musicians
included on the disc, which range from Lightnin' Hopkins, Bubble
Puppy, and on to the likes of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Don't
miss this one.
MISH MASH Mandate: Songs Of The South
Oxford American Magazine Website
© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved