Friday, August 17, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 08/17/07

1. Fall is coming, honest.

Enough with the scorching heat, thank you.
I won't miss all the smoke, either.

**A couple of items this week that have been around for a while, but are news to me...

2. I rented a great DVD this past week; The 1997 documentary, 'Riding The Rails', which had aired on PBS' 'American Experience'.

It's about the experiences of teenaged hoboes who wandered the country during America's Great Depression.
There were tens of thousands of them.
Some were runaways, some were seeking better opportunities elsewhere, some were seeking adventure.
They all found a harsh existence that changed their lives and informed their futures.

The filmakers did an astonshing amount of research, gathering testimonies and recollections from people all over the country. A handful of older people appear in the film, relating stories from their youth. Through narration, we also hear bits and pieces from letters received.

I found the film riveting. Pretty close to everything one could want from a documentary. It incorporates old film footage and photos, and lots of perfectly appropriate period music. (Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie figure prominently)

Check it out, if you can.

3. Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett turn up often among the branches of the Rock & Roll 'family tree'.

Together or separately, it seems they've worked with (or associated with) everybody.
They'd probably be perfect for a musical equivalent of 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon'.

Somehow I'd managed to miss (or sadly overlook) Delaney & Bonnie's album, 'Home'.
If I'm understanding correctly, it was their first album recorded (in 1968), but their second released (in 1969).

It was their only LP released by Stax Records, and it fits in so well with the Memphis soul label's late-sixties sound that during my first listen I did a bit of a double-take at the release date.

My first reaction was that I was hearing something of a 'tribute' to that Stax sound - - a faithful re-creation by outsiders - - but no, it's completely contemporary with the era, and if it features some of the label's cognoscenti, it's because that's where they were working at the time.

The only thing that makes the album stand apart from most of what Stax was issuing at the time is the fact that Delaney and Bonnie were white.
Unfortunately, that probably has much to do with why this superb record was not better received when it first came out.

They were in good company on the album though, backed by Booker T. & The MGs, Isaac Hayes, Leon Russell, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, and the Memphis Horns.

The Bramletts wrote some of the songs, others were supplied by some of the 'usual suspects' at the Stax studios, and there's a cover version of Erma Franklin's 'Piece of My Heart', recorded more than a year before Janis Joplin's version.

The CD reissue I just recently stumbled onto came out in 2006, and contains six bonus tracks not on the original release.

As far as the 'Stax Factor' goes, this album won't supplant my high opinion of Otis Redding or
Sam & Dave, et al, but fortunately it doesn't need to.
For me, it just came as a very welcome surprise, one that enriches my enjoyment of a particular facet of sixties soul music.

Delaney and Bonnie's career heyday began soon after this album was recorded, as their sound began to move more firmly into the Rock realm.

Here's a link to a YouTube video clip from 1969, featuring their new guitarist, Eric Clapton.

See also: This biography page. (click to link)

4. Sure, I'll call this a reason to be cheerful, why not.

It's about the special challenge of keeping old links on this site in good working order, and it's where you can lend a hand with some feedback.

I noticed a couple of links gone kaput the other day. Sometimes I can fix these things, other times I just have to let go...

In your travels nosing about this blog, if you happen to encounter links that are broken, files that won't play, videos removed from YouTube, etc, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could drop me a line to let me know.

(There's an e-mail link parked in the sidebar, too)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

funny thing about that six degrees thing for Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett - maybe you should build a site for it? Kind like that kevin bacon site:

Freshly-stirred links