What a surprise to have stumbled upon this CD by percussionist David Earle Johnson, who doesn't seem to have many albums in print, let alone much of a solo discography. Granted, the co-billing of Jan Hammer (a mover and shaker during the heyday of jazz-rock fusion) on the CD cover may have convinced me that there was some worth to buying "Hip Address", but the music itself turned out to be rather good for the most part.
Orignally released in 1980, "Hip Address" builds on the jazz-rock fusion Hammer created with both the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck, adding a more percussive feel to it courtesy of Johnson. Hammer and Johnson play all instruments, with Hammer playing drums in addition to his multiple keyboards.
Lee Ann Womack began recording a sequel for MCA Nashville after 2008's Call Me Crazy, but none of its advance singles stuck, leading the singer to shift direction for her seventh studio album. This album didn't appear until 2014, not on Universal but on Sugar Hill/Welk, who picked up The Way I'm Livin', an album that effectively reboots her career. Produced by Frank Liddell – Womack's husband but more notably the producer behind recent hit records by Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies, David Nail, and the Eli Young Band – The Way I'm Livin' finds the veteran singer intentionally abandoning the chart race for deeply felt intimacy. Womack didn't write any of the songs on The Way I'm Livin' – a collection of writers ranging from Bruce Robison, Kenny Price, Julie Miller, and Mindy Smith to Hayes Carll and Neil Young bear credits – but the material is so carefully selected, the album plays personally.
Mudlark rates highly on many a Kottke fan's favorite list. This was Kottke's Capitol Records debut, and his solo instrumental sound is augmented with the addition of studio sidemen (bass, drums, piano). His playing is superb (no surprise there) and full of youthful vigor – a fusion of high-speed picking, brash slide work, funky folk, acoustic rock, and melodicism. Most importantly, Mudlark marked the debut of Kottke as a singer, an indication that Capitol was trying to shoehorn him into the singer/songwriter genre. Kottke himself has made disparaging remarks about his own vocals, but they add personality to his virtuosic guitar chops.