28 slices of down’n’dirty blues from the Deep South – including eight previously unheard tracks and takes. The “By The Bayou” series leaps to Volume 18 with a return to the blues of South Louisiana, bringing you rare or previously unissued tracks from stars of the genre such as Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo, plus a host of little-known or completely unknown performers. We also have two artists who you would never think performed in the downhome style – Barbara Lynn and Cookie (aka Huey Thierry) – but who sound right at home, with an unknown harmonica player setting the tone on Barbara’s track whilst Cupcakes guitarist Marshall Laday supports Cookie with some mean blues pickin’. In fact there are several tracks here that will have air-guitar virtuosos reaching for their imaginary axes.
Can it be a coincidence that this CD, subtitled "Inspiration from Gregorian Chant," was recorded right around the time that chant music was reaching its improbable peak on the album charts? In any case, this enjoyable, offbeat trio album featuring the unusual combination of Bley's piano, David Eyges' electric cello and Bruce Ditmas' drums seems to have very little to do with Gregorian chant per se. Indeed, such numbers as "Wisecracks" and "Loose Change" are definitely based on the blues, "Decompose" has an M-base funk foundation, and "Funhouse" is a nasty, down-home bit of grooving that eventually becomes engulfed in a swirling maelstrom (so this is from whom Keith Jarrett may have picked up some of his group concepts).
For a band that's been compared to Joy Division, Leonard Cohen, Wilco, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the National sure sounds a lot more like the Czars or Uncle Tupelo on this sophomore album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. Where the band might lack Joy Division's angular fury, Cohen's existentialism, and Cave's vampiric attack, vocalist Matt Berninger and company whip up a murky alt country meets chamber pop vibe that's quite potent. The five-piece mostly keeps things on the country side of the fence during the album's first half, as slide guitars and fiddles overpower just about any hint of rock styling except the drumbeat, occasional feedback, and some screeching guitar freak-outs.