Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Sky Above, The Mud Below

My review of Levon Helm's first solo album in 25 years is up at the website of The Magazine Formerly Known As Stereo Review.

A word of warning: It's the rag's 50th anniversary year, and in the next issue they're going to run three of the most spectacularly unflattering (old) photos of me ever taken. The shame, the shame.....

16 comments:

Cleveland Bob said...

Nice review, Steve.

I have always dug Levon Helm. I frequently liked his acting too. He's great in The Right Stuff and Coal Miner's Daughter.

Just now re-read your review on Steve Earle as well. Man, I love that record.

Can't wait for the daguerreotypes of you in the upcoming anniversary issue!

billy b said...

Stevie!!!!

Great to see you back at SR.

I'll have to pick up Levon's latest. Sounds great.

Speaking of Arkansas roots, back in the 50's before everyone became glued to the TV set, there were a lot of regularly-held 'talent shows' (for lack of a better phrase) that 'showcased' local talent.

These deals would be held at a community center or more often (at least in the cases of which I am familiar) the local high school gym or auditorium.

Anyway, my mother says she remembers Levon and his sister singing at quite a few of these shows. Other artists of note that she recalled seeing were Harold Jenkins (a.k.a. Conway Twitty), who is from my hometown, Billy Lee Riley (Flying Saucers Rock and Roll, Little Green Men), and none other than El-veye.

The Mississippi River Delta was a cool place to grow up, musically speaking.

steve simels said...

billy b:

Wow. Just wow...

gottahavepop said...

Steve,

Not to reveal my age, but I was a Stereo Review subscriber a long, long time ago. I think I was forever changed by your SR review for Tonio K.'s "Life in the Foodchain." I read that review and just had to have that album. When it finally showed up in my little town, I snatched it right up and then proceeded to play it to death.

I've read thousands and thousands of record reviews, but none stuck with me like that one.

Not really germane here, but the what the heck? Not sucking up, either, although I admit that it sounds like I am.

steve simels said...

That Tonio review is one of my alltime faves...glad you liked it, too.

Great album...

billy b said...

Speaking of Steve Earle, ever heard Ryan Bingham?

Kid's a west Texas singer reminiscent of Earle. I've heard him on a Philly indy station and am impressed.

Album is named "Mescalito"

http://www.xponentialmusic.org/atw/atw_2007_12.php

Cleveland Bob said...

billy b,

Just checked out Ryan Bingham and you're spot on. Steve Earle meets the Black Crowes cum Jerry Jeff Walker.

Very nice indeed. No sight of him locally from what I can see. Looks to be spending some time in Europe this winter.

Thanks plenty.

steve simels said...

I'm gonna go check out that Bingham guy right now. Thanks for the headsup...

billy b said...

cb -

I heard one of the Bingham's toons for the first time the other day and I thought it was Earle.

As to Tonio K., I love that album also. I actually got it before the Swami reviewed in in SR. I really thought I was a hep cat back then if I bought an album before simels reviewed it.

Well I wish I was as mellow as for instance, Jackson Browne

Well - Fountain of Sorrow my ass motherfucker

I hope you wind up in the ground

H-A-T-R-E-D

I'm bitter and maligned

I'm P-I-S-S-E-D off

I'm angry most of the time

billy b said...

Oh I forgot one great line:

Why don't you

G-O T-O H-E-Double-L

You tramp

You philandering bitch

dave said...

Not to reveal my age, but I was a Stereo Review subscriber a long, long time ago. I think I was forever changed by your SR review for Tonio K.'s "Life in the Foodchain." I read that review and just had to have that album.

I'm so old, I was already reading Stereo Review when Simels came on board!

I sure hope they're gonna print that Hirschfeld-esque caricature of you that used to grace your column!

steve simels said...

dave:

Wow, I did not know that about you. You old coot.
:-)

BTW -- if they use that caricature, I swear to god I'm gonna take a hostage. The photos are godawful enough....

return of the plumber said...

Don't believe a word Steve says, he looked real sharp in the 1970's in a hippie/disco/punk kind of way!

gottahavepop said...

Don't believe a word Steve says, he looked real sharp in the 1970's in a hippie/disco/punk kind of way!

Well, at least he covered all the bases.

As great as "Foodchain" is, "Amerika" may even be better. Discuss.

Steve, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you write a rave review for Bill Lloyd's "Set to Pop"? I bought that CD based entirely upon the review that was posted on the Tower Listening Station, and that pretty much started my '90s power pop obsession. Something like 100 CDs per year.

TJWood said...

I'd been meaning to give the new Levon Helm a listen but Steve's review finally got me to do so. A most welcome comeback for Levon--any fan of the Band and Americana roots music should love this.

Also check out Steve's Top 10 CDs of 2007--as well the choices of the other S & V music critics--on the magazine website. I can definitely agree with him on 8 of his 10 choices (I haven't heard enough of Feist to make a judgment on her, and haven't heard any of the Hives album). I'll recommend the Richard Thompson and Robert Plant/Alison Krauss CDs in their stead.

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