Mudcrutch – “Mudcrutch” (2008)

July 19, 2008 at 5:25 pm (Music, Reviews & Articles)

 

 

Written April 30, 2008…

 

 

This album comes as a pleasant surprise. Who would have thought that a rock legend of Tom Petty’s stature would resurrect a long-forgotten, unknown band from his early woodshedding years? It would be like Bruce Springsteen getting Steel Mill back together or Billy Joel reuniting Attila.   

But whether it was a case of nostalgia for his youth or just a desire to play together with some old buddies, Mudcrutch could end up being the “reunion of the year.”  

Except for a couple of obscure singles and an early version of “Don’t Do Me Like That” that wasn’t released until many years later, Mudcrutch never recorded an album until now. And what a debut it is too. This could be the most vital music Petty has made in a long time – which is not to take anything away from his recent recordings. But working with these musicians (of which Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell are of course longtime members of the Heartbreakers, the band Mudcrutch morphed into back in the mid-70‘s) has clearly inspired him in a big way. All of his contributions on here can stand alongside his older material.

This album sounds like a long-lost country-rock gem, circa 1971. The sound of the late-period Byrds was obviously a huge influence on this album. Not only do Mudcrutch do a spirited cover of “Lover of the Bayou” (from 1970’s (Untitled)) but even some of the original songs have titles that sound like they could have come straight from the Clarence White version of the Byrds — “Topanga Cowgirl,” “Bootleg Flyer,” “June Apple” and “Orphan of the Storm” are all of late-60’s L.A. vintage. But there are also other influences on here, including “Crystal River,” which sounds like the Byrds if Neil Young and Jerry Garcia had sat in with them and traded guitar solos with Roger McGuinn. Throughout the course of the album, I also hear traces of the Flying Burrito Brothers, 50’s music and bluegrass.

First single “Scare Easy” is an instant Petty classic. If there is any justice left in the world, this song will become a big hit. This is probably Petty’s most memorable single in at least a dozen years. Of course, it’s hard to predict how any album or single will sell these days. The state of radio is more fractured than ever. But it should be a popular download, if nothing else.

The traditional song “Shady Grove,” which features co-lead guitarist Tom Leadon sharing lead vocals with Petty, sounds alot like “Matty Groves” by Fairport Convention. Or perhaps Fairport borrowed from “Shady Grove” in the first place? Anyhow, it’s a great album opener.

They really stretch out on the spacy “Crystal River” to brilliant effect. A great chorus, excellent guitar playing by Campbell and Leadon and Benmont Tench proves why he is one of the most underrated piano players in rock ‘n’ roll. Tench also takes a rare writing and singing turn on the short, enjoyable “This is a Good Street.” Leadon (whose brother Bernie was an early member of the Burrito Brothers, as well as The Eagles) contributes “Queen of the Go-Go Girls,” which sounds like some forgotten late-60‘s country-rock gem.

The old trucker classic “Six Days on the Road,” rocks along nicely. “Oh Maria” has a sweet, laid-back feel to it and the instrumental “June Apple” sounds like a tribute to the late, great Clarence White. It also features some excellent organ work from Tench.   

This album, which was recorded in two weeks, has a raw, unpolished feel to it, which really suits these songs. Petty, who plays bass for the occasion and sings superbly, is clearly having fun here. They all are. This sounds like a well-seasoned bar band playing for the love of it, without worrying whether the album will sell a million copies or not. It took them over 30 years to finally make a record. Let’s hope there’s more magic where this came from.

 

Jay Mucci

 

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Elvis Presley: Reflections on the King

July 19, 2008 at 4:20 pm (Elvis Presley, Music, Reviews & Articles)

Written July 19, 2008…

 

 

Last year was the 30th anniversary since the death of Elvis Presley. I still remember that day very clearly and can recall right where I was sitting and what I was doing. I was seven years old and the news hit me like a bolt of lightning. It was like losing a family member. Even at that young age, I knew something terrible had happened. That the world would never be quite the same again.

 

Thinking about that final decade of Elvis’ life, I’m struck by one thought. How autobiographical and heartfelt his recordings from that time are. At least the songs that deal with heartbreak and failed relationships. And he recorded a lot of those types of songs during that era: “Always on My Mind,” “Separate Ways,” “You Gave Me a Mountain,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “My Boy,” “It’s Over” and of course “Suspicious Minds” being just a few of the better ones. Read the rest of this entry »

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a heavy silence

July 19, 2008 at 3:41 pm (Poetry & Literature)

 

i fed you melted ice cream

in a darkly lit room

as you sat in your chair

                  & complained

 

the clock ticking at glacial speed

 

a heavy silence.

 

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hercules

July 19, 2008 at 1:21 pm (Poetry & Literature)

repeating the same words
over & over

popping pills,
going insane

“i must wash my hands again
for fear of sickness”

sitting alone in a darkened room
windows blackened out
to the outside world,

locked away,
no human contact
no human feeling

“if there is any variation
in the instructions,
the process must be
repeated from the beginning”

the process must be repeated,
be repeated

a billion dollars can’t save you
from mental ruin

plane crash,
3 houses down
& badly burned alive

flashbacks recurring
a reputation under investigation

dying alone in an airless room,
starlets long gone,

this was your life.

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afternoon dilemma

July 19, 2008 at 1:13 pm (Poetry & Literature)

the mind races,
as if it has some place
to be
and the silence is always loudest
when you’re all alone
driving,
with the radio turned off
i can’t bear to listen
to another overplayed song
i have no destination
and i’m a fool for wasting gas
when a gallon now costs
more than a bottle of beer
at the local saloon

i guess i’ll just go home   
and throw shadows at the wall
doing very much of nothing at all
it’s just my usual routine.

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In the Name of Freedom

July 19, 2008 at 1:01 pm (Poetry & Literature)

 

Will I ever make it home alive?

I’ve been stuck in this hell

for far too long

never knowing when the enemy will strike next

not even knowing who the real enemy is anymore

is it them or is it me?

 

I should be sleeping with my wife right now

instead of on this cold hard ground

I’ll never get used to this dust in my lungs

I’ll never get used to this heat

 

The smell of burning flesh lingers in the air

something you can never get used to

and so many of my friends are gone now

I can no longer keep track of them all Read the rest of this entry »

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Amy Winehouse: A Singer for the Ages

July 19, 2008 at 12:08 am (Music, Reviews & Articles)

Written July 5, 2008…


Okay, let’s start right out by saying, forget about all the sordid tabloid talk about Amy that has been swirling like dirty water down the drain for the past several months. I am not here to discuss whether Amy is a heroin-addicted alcoholic who only has 12 months (at best) to live, if she doesn’t turn her life around. Although I will say that I hope she does find a way to overcome whatever vices she may have, because she is simply too talented a singer and songwriter to go the route of Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin, not to mention Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Parker and Kurt Cobain – namely musical geniuses who died far too young. That would be just another senseless tragedy. And in this day and age, with so few musical heroes out there (besides the older artists who are still around), we need all the geniuses we can get. And let me say it: Amy is a genius singer, not to mention an extremely talented songwriter, who I imagine will only improve with age. Read the rest of this entry »

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