Heaven knows, the Scotsman born Donovan Leitch was ripe for ridicule, even when he was hitting the charts with regularity. He was the ultimate flower child, and his airier pronouncements made cynics want to tighten up those love beads around his neck. Listening to Troubadour, however, it's striking how versatile, melodic, and agreeable most of his material sounds decades after "Mellow Yellow" has faded into a jaundiced yellow. Clearly under the sway of Bob Dylan early on in his career, Donovan nevertheless was capable of directing his reverence into something as enchanting as "Catch the Wind." Amping up as the '60s progressed, he assembled a series of psychedelic-pop classics, including "Season of the Witch," the "Hey Jude"-like sing-along "Atlantis," and the uncharacteristically driving "Hurdy Gurdy Man" (the latter features three-quarters of what was to become Led Zeppelin providing stellar support). This two-disc anthology may be more Donovan than some desire, but the booklet, seven previously unreleased tracks, and expansive perspective it provides makes it a more-than-worthy overview for those who take their paisley folk-rock with a beatific smile.
Carole King and James Taylor reuniting isn’t quite a monumental reunion – they never were an official performing entity, so they never had a falling out, appearing on-stage and on record from time to time since their ‘70s heyday – but it is a notable one, particularly when they choose to perform at the Troubadour, the L.A. venue so crucial at the start of their stardom, backed by such fellow veterans of the SoCal singer/songwriter scene as guitarist Danny Kortchmar, bassist Leland Sklar, and drummer Russell Kunkel, musicians who supported them the last time they co-headlined the club back in 1971…
The Last Southern Gentlemen is a landmark recording for Delfeayo Marsalis, pairing father Ellis Marsalis, Jr. with son on a collaborative album for the first time. Marsalis' finest outing to date, the superb recording quality and meticulous production showcase his brilliant, classically trained tone as it swings effortlessly through standards and original compositions. The music is relaxed, thoughtful and provocative, acknowledging the love and respect of all people shared by Louis Armstrong and most early jazz entertainers. This sense of humanity and humility is at the center of the Southern lifestyle that birthed the original American music. Built on the intimacy of American ballads and the trombone's expressive mimicry of the human voice, The Last Southern Gentlemen is a firm acknowledgement of the existence and importance of these sweet, gentle sounds.
"Gold: Recorded Live at the Troubadour" is a live album by singer/songwriter Neil Diamond. While no singles were released in support of the album, the opening track "Lordy" appeared as the B-side of "Cracklin' Rosie". This is the only recording available of this song.
What these sound recordings attempt to do is to bring you face-to-face — or, perhaps more appropriately, sound to-heart — with actual works of the troubadours and, occasionally, of others in their circle of influence. The task is daunting for so many reasons: songs got written down decades, even centuries, after their dates of creation; only about ten percent of the original melodies survive; and most direct knowledge of how performers worked out their interpretations at the time has been lost. We know nothing whatsoever about the singing style, or about the techniques of instrumental accompaniment that may have been employed. These performances, therefore, of necessity, reflect a confluence of musicological and philological knowledge with performers' instincts and intuitions, as all of these tendencies interacted with each other at a specific moment in history, the late twentieth century.
Texas Troubadour is a four-disc box set that packages the late songwriter Townes Van Zandt's first seven studio albums for the Poppy and Tomato labels: For the Sake of the Song (1968); Our Mother the Mountain (1969); Townes Van Zandt (1970); Delta Momma Blues (1971); High, Low and In Between (1972); The Late Great Townes Van Zandt (1972), and Flyin' Shoes (1978). In addition, there are four studio outtakes from 1972-73 and a decent portion of Live at the Old Quarter, Houston issued in 1973. Charly reproduces the original cover art in miniature, two covers to each CD. Sound is the same as on the original CD issues, so fans who already own these albums will not be served by purchasing them again in this format. Musically, the work is superb, and since many of Van Zandt's recordings are out of print, this is a fine argument for getting them altogether. Another plus is Adam Komorowski's extensive biographical essay included in the 36-page color booklet that's loaded with photos.