Voted Albums of 2003
NetRhythms' friends have compiled their Top 5, 6, 10 or more albums of 2003:
TOP 10 ALBUMS FOR 2003
Steve Morris's Roots & Branches radio show is available on the net - 8-10pm on Thursdays via Wolverhampton Campus Radio. www.wcr1350.co.uk
"Maybe it's an ageing memory. Maybe it's a lack of memorable songs. No,
can't be that 'cos when faced with an aide memoire it's clear that
although we fear a drying well, the truth is a shrinking rope on the
bucket. Trawl deep enough beneath the murk and there's crystal water a
plenty. There's also the fact that, like filling in the self assessment tax
form, actually ordering a top ten is something that's best done when
your back's against the deadline wall. No chance to reconsider it to
death, just gut instinct, a primitive emotional response to song and
rhythm. The way it's supposed to be?"
JIM MORAY Sweet England (Niblick Is A Giraffe) English folk song
arranged with nods to Laurie Anderson, Radiohead, Brian Wilson and
Miles Davis. And 'The Week Before Easter' is the musical moment of the
EMMYLOU HARRIS Stumbling Into Grace (Nonesuch) Simply wonderful and
doesn't 'Time In Babylon' capture the very moment? Oh, and didn't Gram
Parsons used to sing with her (those last two words in ironic italics).
MICHAEL WESTON KING A Decent Man (Floating World) Finally burying the
altcountry tag MWK is revealed as a focussed songwriter and magnetic
performer. High Days Holy Days would, in sensible times, have been a
major hit single. And id Ian McNabb's guitar coda to that track doesn't
have you rushing for rewind . . .
THE BEACH BOYS Pet Sounds (Capitol DVD-A) Re-issues and reformatting
might be the refuge of scoundrel majors but . . . I've had this since
day one on mono vinyl, reprocessed stereo and mono CD, 24 carat gold
CD, remixed CD and now in surround and whatever the detractors may
think to be literally wrapped in the glory of God Only Knows is pure
BOB FOX Borrowed Moments (Topic) I've had a bit of an English year I
guess and Bob Fox is about as good as it gets. That he can give Chris
Leslie's new tune 'My Love Is In America' the patina of tradition
whilst making the worn-out trad folk of 'Dance To Thy Daddy' fresh and
new says much.
JOHN HIATT & THE GONERS Beneath This Gruff Exterior (Sanctuary) Hiatt's
voice and songs; Sonny Landreth's slide. What more could you want?
ROBERT PALMER Drive (Universal) When this arrived under the auspices of
Universal's TV promoted label who could have cared. Played for old
time's sake (any of you not in possession of the man's Sneakin' Sally
Through The Alley are recommended an Amazon break right now) it
knocked the old sock's off and has remained on high rotation (as they
apparently say). How cruel the ensuing fates.
SILVERHEEL Dry Hotel (Survival) Their second album in a decade fuses
west coast harmony to High Llama textures to create a minor gem.
ELTON JOHN Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Mercury SACD) His best album and
a neat summation of where I was at three decades back. The surround mix
is audaciously good at once letting Gus Dudgeon's brilliant original
production breathe whilst shining light into previously unlit corners.
Ah they could make pop records back then . .
MIRACLE MILE Alaska (Miracle Mile) Simply amazing. McAloon, Frame,
Trevor Jones. That's the way it should be. If you've not heard this
there's a gap in your life. Honest.
Tom Nelligan of Massachussets is a reviewer and columnist for Dirty Linen magazine http://www.dirtylinen.com
Tom's selection comes in the form of a singles track compilation where there is no particular order other than the running order.
1. The Demon Barbers - Companion of a Mile [Uncut, DJC Records, 2002] The best English traditional album I've heard in a long time was this live disk from singer, concertina-squeezer, and guitarist Damien Barber and friends. This track is an Alfred Noyes poem about a Morris dancer that he set to a traditional tune.
2. The Mammals - Way Down the Old Plank Road [Evolver, Humble Abode Music, 2002] The second album from this young fiddle/banjo/guitar/voices neo-old time trio builds on the energy of their debut, and with stronger songs overall.
3. Halali - The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter [Halali, Footprint Records, 2003] The debut album from this Celtic-oriented Boston quartet that features three fiddler/singers and a hot guitarist. Hanneke Cassell's sparking piano is featured on this arrangement of a traditional song.
4. Fairport Convention - I'll Keep It With Mine [Cropredy 2002, Woodworm Records, 2002] A souvenir of one of the best musical weekends of my life, in spite of drenching rain and shoe-grabbing mud. Vikki Clayton stands in for Sandy Denny on this classic Bob Dylan song that the band first recorded in 1969, and of course that's RT on lead guitar.
5. Richard Thompson - Words Unspoken, Sight Unseen [The Old Kit Bag, Cooking Vinyl, 2003] Meanwhile, back in the 2lst century, the man is still going' strong, and this was his best studio album in a decade.
6. Mary Lee's Corvette - Give It to the Needy [700 Miles, Bar None Records, 2003] New York City singer/songwriter Mary Lee Kortes fronts this rocking, rootsy pop band. I love that electric 12-string.
7. Foretold - Panther in Michigan [Foretold, Appleseed Recordings, 2003] Four veteran singers - Steve Gillette, Anne Hills, Cindy Mangsen, and Michael Smith - got together to record each other's songs and some favorite covers with energy and harmony. This song is one of Michael's, based on a true story of a mysterious Midwestern feline.
8. The Mrs. Ackroyd Band - Dipsticks and Seals [Yelp!, Mrs. Ackroyd Records, 2003] In which terrible things are done to a Steve Tilston song, and Mr. Tilston appears to be a willing participant. No one is better than Les Barker at writing song parodies.
9. The McDades - V'la I'Bon Vent [For Reel, Free Radio Records, 2002] A trio from Alberta plays a song from Quebec, adds an Irish reel in the middle, and accompanies it with a Persian hammered dulcimer and Indian tabla. Fun, innovative music.
10. The Paperboys - What Would I Miss [Dilapidated Beauty, Stompy Disks, 2003] Adding to the regular mix of Canadian Celtic folk-rock with Mexican and bluegrass twists, there's also a strong alt-country influence on this double CD from one of North America's best roots bands.
11. Andrew Calhoun - Going Down to See John Prine [Tiger Tattoo, Waterbug Records, 2003] Another favorite songwriter who we rarely get to hear in Boston, this Chicago native and Oregon resident did a hotel room showcase at this year's Folk Alliance conference in Nashville. I first heard this song about a fallen hero while jammed on the floor between a pair of beds - the quintessential Folk Alliance experience.
12. Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns and Money [Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon, Rhino Records, 2003] Most of you will remember this one, a 1978 classic reissued on an almost-posthumous collection from a guy who gave up drinking years ago but maybe should have quit smoking too. He was Richard Thompson's main rival as the best-ever writer of dark, cynical songs that were full of morbid humor. RIP, Warren
13. Pete Morton - St. George Slew the Dragon [Folk Alliance promotional disk, 2003] To finish up, another wonderful song of hope from one of England's best writers. A solo guitar/vocal version can be found on his new CD Strathmoor, on Harbourtown Records.
Amongst this year's great musical experiences were the Folk Alliance in Nashville, with dozens of fine North American and British acts, The Paperboys amid three feet of snow in Sudbury, Little Johnny England rocking through the heat of the New Bedford Summerfest, and the Richard Thompson Band in the concrete chasm of Lupo's. Plus many fun nights at Johnny D's and too many places to list here. A toast to all the musicians who brighten up these troubled times!
By day he is a booking agent for quality rootsy acts from the US, Canada and places far and wide. By night he moonlights as a DJ on SpydaRadio (http://www.spydaradio.co.uk). His show is named after this website. New projects for 2004 include trying to syndicate his radio show to terrestrial and digital networks, and setting up a promotional company with Suffolk Songwriters and Debenham Entertainments with the intention of bring this kind of music to Ipswich and in time throughout East Anglia. Talking of Suffolk he regularly appears on BBC Radio Suffolk as a music pundit on the Drive Time show. His Top 10 albums of 2003 are:
10. Blur - Think Tank
9. Lucinda Williams - World Without Tears
8. Tom Russell - Modern Art
7. Laura Veirs - Troubled By The Fire
6. Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 - Static Transmission
5. Emmylou Harris - Stumble Into Grace
4. The Darkness - Permission To Land
3. Kathleen Edwards - Failer
2. Kraig Kenning - Maktub
1. Thea Gilmore - Avalanche
My top 10 albums (in no particular order)
1.Kathleen Edwards - Failer (Zoe) Canadian singer-songwriter's debut album conjures thoughts of Suzanne Vega and Lucinda Williams with chiming guitars and smalltown tales of hard times and bad endings
2. Cindy Bullens - Neverland (Blue Rose) Belated UK release for her 2001 album, recorded in the wake of her young daughter's death and marriage break up, this is rootsy rock n roll and countrified twang, One Single Moment a song that should be mandatory for counselling groups the world over.
3. Carina Round - The Disconnection (Dehisce) Second album from the West Mids very own PJ Harvey and another scouringly intense sweatily sexual confessional set to the sort of elemental voodoo blues you thought only Zeppelin could master. A terrible yet intoxicating beauty.
4. The Handsome Family - Singing Bones (Loose) Yet another collection of poisoned dark country melancholia that reinforces their reputation as the Johnny Cash and June Carter of contemporary Americana
5. Emmylou Harris - Stumble Into Grace (Nonesuch) Ageing like an excellent cognac, eight years since her creative renaissance with Wrecking Ball she continues to excel with her bruised ethereal vocals and deeply compassionate and human songs of love, loss, quest and redemption.
6. John Austin - Busted At The Pearly Gates (Austin Echo Music) A quietly yearning voice, infectious yet intelligent pop and poignantly reflective acoustic melancholy, with albums like this he's assured of a pass to Heaven's VIP enclosure.
7. Josh Ritter - Hello Starling (Signature Sounds) Drawing on such influences as early Dylan, Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen and John Prine, Ritter's sophomore album. confirms him as an artists for whom the term timeless was created.
8. Kate Rusby - Underneath The Stars (Pure)Underneath The Stars (Pure) No major musical departures amid the trad and self-penned tunes delivered in her unaffected northern accent but this is as simple and as lovely as an English country summer's day. The English folk album of the year
9. Peter Bruntnell - Ends of the Earth (Loose) From New Zealand with Welsh blood and living in Devon but sounding like a true born Americana as Tom Petty meets Gram Parsons on bruised romantic tales of lost times, faded lives, and unfulfilled hearts delivered in a voice that should be bottled.
10.Lucinda Williams - World Without Tears (Lost Highway) Even better than Car Wheels On Gravel Road as Williams digs into the blues with her toughest, most swaggering rocking and sexually direct album packed with transfiguring and emotionally lacerating songs.
Thrill of the Year: Thea Gilmore with a hit single
Graham Anderson runs "Northern Roots" a charitable events company with "The Jumpin Hot Club, Evolution Festival, Union Country Festival, North Shields Fish Quay Festival, all in the north east of UK. He plays Double Bass in various Bands & writes songs too!!!
1) Neil Cleary "Numbers Add Up" Spit & Polish
2) Gillian Welch "Soul Journey" Acony
3) Paul Burch "Fool For Love" Bloodshot
4) Otis Gibbs "49th & Melancholy" Flat Earth
5) J C Grimshaw "Love Song Walking" Village Bike
6) Tim Easton "Break Your Mothers Heart" New West
7) Josh Rouse "1972" Rykodisc
8) Erin McKeown "Grand" Nettwerk
9) Magic Car "Yellow Main Sequence" Tiny Dog
10) Various Artists "All Aboard The Jumpin Hot Club" Shipcote
My New Top Ten Cd's 2003 - the changes
6)Kenny Roby"Rather Not Know"Morebarn records
7)Tim Easton"Break Your Mothers Heart"New West
8)Clem Snide"Soft Spot" Fargo
9)Oh Susanna"Oh Susanna"Stella Records
"I'm currently the Finance Manager at Norwich Arts Centre www.norwichartscentre.co.uk , a lively 250 capacity music venue which promotes a varied programme of rock, pop, indie, folk, jazz, and world music. I've also been programming the rock and pop music there for the last two years and for most of 2003, I have been acting Centre Manager and doing the rest of the music booking. I've been a big music fan from an early age, enjoy Bob Harris and John Peel, and try to get to see as much good live music as I can."
No.1 Calexico - Feast of Wire
No.2 The Rapture - Echoes
No.3 Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble - Exile
No.4 Kathleen Edwards - Failer
No.5 Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlantisicm
No.6 Oh Susanna - Oh Susanna
No.7 Laura Veirs - Troubled By The Fire
No.8 Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power
No.9 Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Sleep / Holiday
No.10 Rosie Thomas - Only With Laughter Can You Win
Iain McQueen is Operations Manager at The Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, a 900 capacity venue which sees everything from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to major jazz, rock, country, world and traditional music acts. His favourite gigs in the venue this year include the Shetland bands Fiddlers' Bid and Shoormal, Allison Moorer, Laura Cantrell and Paul Burch, the mighty Vasen from Sweden and the superb La Bottine Souriante from Quebec. Best of all though was Gillian Welch's show on 29th August - a truly amazing performer who held the audience in the palm of her hand from the first song to last encore.
10. Fiebre - Radio Tarifa
9. World Without Tears - Lucinda Williams
8. When The Roses Bloom Again - Laura Cantrell
7. Fool for Love - Paul Burch
6. Trouble With Humans - Chip N' Carrie
5. Master and Everyone - Bonnie Prince Billy
4. Chinatown - Be Good Tanyas
3. Feast of Wire - Calexico
2. Soul Journey - Gillian Welch - gig of the year at the Queen's Hall
1. Migrant - Shoormal - fantastic 2nd album by Shetland's best kept secret
Steve Earle, Just An American Boy - If you want the truth here it is..
The Sorentinos, Love and Haight - A Retrospective - Hear what all the fuss should be about.
The Thorns, The Thorns - beautiful country rock just returned.
Bill Mallonee - Perfumed Letter - Put simply Mallonee doesn't make bad albums.
Tom Ovans - Tombstone Boys, Graveyard Girls - the carcase of modern life stripped bare to reveal its skeleton.
Nadine, Strange Seasons - It's been too long boys (and girl)
Brian Houston, Mea Culpa - beautifully tender songs sung by a musician who does his best to hide the fact that he's got a heart.
Derrin Nauendorf, Wasteland - Blues? Rock? Folk? Country? Nauendorf and Dave Downing are all of these and more.
the-low-country, welcome to the-low-country - an album that deserves to be a discovered treasure.
Thea Gilmore, Avalanche - How can Thea Gilmore better Avalanche? But that's what we said the last time
Michael Mee is editor of The Hawick News
AcoustiCity promoter and Pavlov's Cat
Stephen Fearing - That's How I Walk
Jim Moray - Sweet England
The Beatles - Let It Be: Naked
John Gorka - Old Futures Gone
Emmylou Harris - Stumble Into Light
Simon Barron & Rosalind Brady - Somewhen
Mouse - Mouse Tales
Polly Paulusma - 4 songs (demo - gigs only)
Holly Lerski - Tell Tale Heart
Warren Zevon - The Wind
Personally don't think it's been a good year for new records. Live gigs have never been better though.
1- The Trouble With Humans - Chip Taylor/Carrie Rodriguez
2 - Soul Journey - Gillian Welch
3 - Modern Art - Tom Russell
4 - Floating - Greg Trooper
5 - Chinatown - The Be Good Tanyas
6 - World Without Tears - Lucinda Williams
7 - Best Foot Forward - Hank Wangford
8 - I'm Staying Out - Caitlin Cary
9 - Singing Bones - The Handsome Family
10- Love Song Walking - JC Grimshaw (A completely unbiased selection)
The two CD's that really disappointed for me were:-
Avalanche - Thea Gilmore (Not bad, but lacking the cutting edge of Rules For Jokers - one of my all time favs - which I feel set too high a standard for her to maintain).
Never Gonna Let You Go - Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart. Too twee and comfy. What works on stage does not always translate to records.
I'm 39. I ran record shops and played in bands (with a tiny bit of DJing in between) in Ipswich, before running pubs pubs here and there and then settling in to work at a fabulous small brewery in Essex after three years in National Sales for Lincolnshire family brewer Batemans. The 9-5 (ish) nature of the brewery job has allowed me to play music again after a 10 year break, and I'm singing and playing guitar with the Songs From The Blue House ensemble, which is very rewarding. The earlier musical career took me all over the UK as well as to Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, Sweden and the west coast of the US...so I've slept in a few vans and seen the inside of a few motel rooms in my time. All of these things have made me richer of body and soul, if not actual hard cash all the time.
1. Alison Krauss + US - Live (possibly 2002, thinking about it...)
2. Pete Yorn - Day I Forgot
3. Be Good Tanyas - Chinatown
4. Gillian Welch - Soul Journey
5. Sean Watkins - 26 Miles
6. Hem - I'm Talking With My Mouth EP (is that allowed?)
7. Martina McBride - Martina
8. Songs from the Blue House - Songs from the Blue House (sorry, but it's true)
9. Mike Silver - Solid Silver
10. Stephen Malkmus & The Jinks - Pig Lib
11. Warren Zevon - The Wind (incase AKUS Live *was* 2002).
Grumpy old git residing in East Yorkshire - prefers his music to be real and not contrived! Loathes with a vengence Pap Idols and Lame Acadamy!
And, why did Zeppelin wait thirty years before getting around to an amazing live album; the Dido album crept into my pysche via constant radio plays of "White Flag"; continuing his quest to improve his music, and music generally Springsteen delivers (along with the E Street Band) and album that blows the competion out of the water; when you're my age hearing 40 Licks is about the only time I'd get anywhere near licking anything plus the dvds are AWESOME - not band for a bunch of (virtual) OAPS's!; I never made it to Knebworth to see Robbie Williams so this'll have to do, he really is the modern day Max Wall; English Rebel Songs 1381 - 1984 finds Chumbawamba going back in time to "revive" songs long forgotten by most and they've given some of them great new treatments, others are as bare as the day they were written!
As for Top 10's mate - well, I don't even know what's new or old these days but you could say that what's impressed me this year are:
LED ZEPPELIN - How The West Was Won
DIDO - Life For Rent
SPRINGSTEEN - The Rising
THE STONES - 40 Licks & the recent 4dvd set which is awesome!
ROBBIE WILLIAMS - Live at Knebworth
CHUMBAWAMBA - Readymades
1.Lucinda Williams-World Without Tears.
3.Jayhawks-Rainy Day Music.
4.Remedy-Remedy. (Glasgow band-only available at gigs and mail order-someone should sign them quick!)
5.Jackie Leven-Shining Brother Shining Sister.
6.Josh Ritter- Hello Starling.
7.Jackson Browne-The Naked Ride Home.
8.Pernice Brothers-Yours,Mine and Ours.
10.John Hammond-Ready For Love.
Kathleen Edwards "Failer" (Zoe Records) - this young edgy Canadian alt.country songwriter's release entered the player at the dawning of the year and it's hardly been out of it since. One to watch.
Willie Nelson "Crazy - the original demos" (Sugar Hill) - as stripped-down as it gets - stunning by its understated simplicity. Light your josh sticks and immerse.
"Lost & Found Vol. 1" (Lost Highway) - introduces refreshingly new sounds of Louisiana soul-rocker Mark Broussard and UK alt.country band UnAmerican among the label's faves Lucinda Williams, Jayhawks, Ryan Adams, veteran Willie and the Man-In-Black's goose bumper closer. An Americana juke box jamboree - here's a quarter, go play...
Patty Loveless "On Your Way Home" (Epic) - returns to her winning formula - an engaging blend of traditional and progressive country underpinned by sensitive production. Commercial, but a lotta soul for your dollar.
The Waifs "Up All Night" (Compass) - this young hard-touring Auzzie roots outfit fronted by sisters Vikki and Donna Simpson and ace guitarist Josh Cunningham deliver a bale-load of original back-yard and small-town tales full of hooks and harmonies with lashings of harmonica and Nashville-styled flatpicking and slide guitar. Having just opened for Dylan, another act to watch out for in 2004.
Top Ten-ish CD's of 2003 from Barry Everitt of The Borderline. Not in any special order except the first one.
Johnny Cash - American 1V - great session - the most missed man of the past 100 years
Steve Wynn - Static Transmission - Blue Rose - His best rock cd ever - now surpassing Dream Syndicate
Drive By Truckers - Decoration Day - New West - Southern rockers meet roots history great cd
Emmylou Harris - Stumble Into Grace - Nonesuch - a wonderful wonderful record
Patty Larkin - Red = Luck - Vanguard - She gets better and better - very haunting - great performence
Hot Club Of Cowtown - Continental Stomp - My favourite Austin Club with a favourite Austin Band playing live - doesn't get much better
Paul Burch - Fool For Love - Shoeshine - so underrated, his voice melts hearts and minds
Blackie & The Rodeo Kings - Bark - Maple Music - I thank Sue C for this one - a heavily played cd on my radio show and can't wait to get them over here
Edie Cary - When I Was Made - CDBaby - another under-rated artist, she's very indipendant of the 'biz' and I love this CD and all she stands for
Chris Whitley - Hotel New Horizons - Fargo - a Whitley classic, haunting songs, driving slide guitar, should be massive but isn't
Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks - CD/DVD - Surfdog Records - he makes it live big time - so a live cd/dvd has to be in everyones collection
Best Live Shows of 2003 I got to see, dam the flu I missed Emmylou
AC/DC Hammersmith Odeon
Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks - Borderline
Steve Wynn & The Miracle Three - The Borderline
Tony Joe White - Borderline
Willard Grant Conspiracy - Union Chapel
Kelly Joe Phelps - Union Chapel
Waco Brothers & The Sadies - Borderline
Terra Folk - Borderline
Johnny Dowd & Willy B Wilson + Danya Kurtz - The Borderline
Hem - Borderline
Slobberbone - Borderline
Laura Cantrell + Paul burch - The Union Chapel
Kathleen Edwards - Borderline
Oh Susanna - The Borderline
Robert Randolph ( opening for the Blasters) - Dingwalls
Eliza Gilkyson - Borderline
Jeff Klein - Borderline
Kevin Ayers - Borderline
The Seeds - Borderline
Chuck Prophet - Borderline
Tom Russell - Borderline
Bob Brozman - Borderline
Yonder Mountain String Band - Borderline
The Waifs - Union Chapel
Ron Sexsmith - Borderline
The Pirates - Borderline
Mick Thomas - Borderline
Cracker - Borderline
Cosmic Rough Riders - Borderline
Eliza Carthy - Borderline
Sarah Harmer & Josh Ritter - Borderline
Rosie Thomas - Borderline
Marshmallow - Borderline
Tandy & Ox - Borderline
Nick Harper - Borderline
Hot Club Of Cowtown - Borderline
Slaid Cleaves & Ray Wilie Hubbard & Larry John McNally & Lynn Miles - Borderline
Caitlin Cary Band - Borderline
so far ...
co-editor flyin shoes review www.flyinshoes.fsnet.co.uk
1. OX : Dust Bowl Revival Part 1( Cinnamonsongs)
2. Deanna Varagona : The Goodbyes have all been taken, Hello ( Gadfly)
3. Wisdom of Harry : Torch Division ( Matador)
4. Jim Bryson : The North Side Benches ( Orange Label, Canada)
5. Dave Childers : Room #23 ( Ramseur Records)
6. Amy Rigby : Til The Wheels Fall Off ( Spit & Polish U.K.)
7. Eric Westbury : Burnt Tongues and Blue Truths ( Barreltown Records )
8. Alasdair Roberts : Farewell Sorrow ( Rough Trade )
9. Jeff Black : B-Sides and Confessions ( Dualtone )
10. Damien Jurado : Where Shall You Take Me? ( Secretly Canadian )
11. r.d.roth and The Issues : Fear not the breakdown ( Floating Moon)
12. Ben Weaver : Hollerin at a Woodpecker ( BDC)
13. Jason Walker & The Last Drinks : Ashes and Wine ( Laughing Outlaw )
14. Martin Stephenson and Others : The Haint of The Budded Rose ( Ramseur Records )
15. Okkervil River : Down the River of Golden Dreams ( Jagjaguwar )
16. Doug Hoekstra : Waiting ( Paste Records )
17. Magic Car : Yellow Main Sequence ( Tiny Dog )
18. The Forresters : Skindeep ( Tom Thumb Records )
19. Jeff Talmadge : Gravity, Grace and The Moon ( Bozart Records )
20. Ronny Elliott : Hep ( Blue Heart Records )
Well, here it is, after much soul searching. I would like to add the proviso that I don't get every album I would like so,these are the best of wot I got.
1. DANU: The Road Less Traveled
2. Mick O'Brien & Caoimhin O'Raghaillaigh: Kitty Lie Over
3. Chet Baker: Do It The Hard Way
4. Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks: Beatin' The Heat
5. Steely Dan: Everything Must Go
6. Robert Wyatt: Cuckooland
7. Michael Messer: Second Mind
8. Michael Hynes & Denis Liddy: Waifs & Strays
9. Gerry Rafferty: Another World
10. Tim O'Brien: Traveler
Mentions in dispatches to
Fraser Fifield: Honest Water
Emmylou Harris: Stumble into Grace
Shirley & Dolly Collins: Within Sound Box Set
Gillian Welch: Soul Journey
Ronny Elliott: Hep
Tommy Peoples: Waiting for the Call
Christy O'Leary & Bert Deivert: Song's Sweet Caress
The London Lasses: Track Across the Deep
Dave Swarbrick: Swarb Box Set
Any May: The Yellow Haired Laddie
For Alan's Spydaradio show, 'The Guest List' www.spydaradio.co.uk and look at his website for Copperplate Distribution
1. World Without Tears - Lucinda Williams
2. Fleeting Days - Dan Bern
3. The Beauty Of The Rain - Dar Williams
4. I'm Staying Out - Caitlin Cary
5. eastmountainsouth - eastmountainsouth
6. Tombstone Boys, Graveyard Girls - Tom Ovans
7. Avalanche - Thea Gilmore
8. Dark Chords On A Big Guitar - Joan Baez
9. Soul Journey - Gillian Welch
10. Stumble Into Grace - Emmylou Harris
from Steve Terry - Isle of skye
1. "World Without Tears" - Lucinda Williams
2. "Fate's Right Hand" - Rodney Crowell
3. "Stumble Into Grace" - Emmylou Harris
5. "Terroir Blues" - Jay Farrar
6. "Tombstone Boys, Graveyard Girls" - Tom Ovans
7. "To A Friend" - Tandy
8. "The Wind" - Warren Zevon
9. "Washington D.C." - Tommy Womack
10. "Big City Blues" - Keith Gattis
Here are my favourites. I too don't believe 2003 was a great year for recorded music - there were many good albums but none that will become long-term favourites. However those I enjoyed the most (in no particular order) were:
Eric Westbury: Burnt Tongues and Blue Truths
Greg Trooper: Floating
Oh Susanna: Oh Susanna
Reckless Kelly: Under The Table and Over The Sun
Josh Ritter: Hello Starling
Caitlin Cary: I'm Staying Out
Jim Lauderdale w/ Donna The Buffalo: Wait Til Spring
Tandy: To A Friend
Thad Cockrell: Warmth and Beauty
The Jayhawks: Rainy Day Music
Best live experience was one of the SXSW evenings: Bruce Robison Band followed by the Buddy Miller Band and rounded off with Lee Ann Womack w/ The Buddy Miller Band joined by Bruce Robison, Jim Lauderdale and Ray Benson - fabulous!!! Other live highlights were also in Austin - over 2 hours worth of Kevin Welch and Kieran Kane at Gruene Hall; and Jim Lauderdale in the Continental Club.
For Karen's Spydaradio show, 'The Miller Tells Her Tale'
1. Jim Moray 'Sweet England'
2. Lucinda 'World Without Tears'
3. Emmylou 'Stumble Into Grace'
4. Kreg Viesselman
5. Kathleen Edwards 'Failer'
6. Gillian Welch 'Soul Journey'
7. Warren Zevon 'The Wind'
8. Jayhawks 'Rainy Day Music'
9. Eric Westbury 'Burnt Tongues and Blue Truths'
=10. Greg Trooper 'Floating'
=10. Tom Russell 'Modern Art'
=10.Caroline Herring 'Wellspring'
Others that could well have figured if I'd heard them include Kris Delmhorst, Rodney Crowell, Boden and Spiers, Dr Faustus...and the Johnny Cash boxset. [Ed: Johnny Cash boxset has been delayed until earlier 2004]
Gigs of the year
1. Gillian Welch (Stables)
2. Kathleen Edwards (Blue Highways)
3. Emmylou Harris (Hammy Odeon)
4. Eliza Gilkyson (Borderline)
5. Lucinda Williams (Shep Bush Empire)
6. Jim Moray (Cabbage Patch)
7. Greg Trooper Band (Blue Highways)
8. Neil Young (Hammy Odeon)
9. John Boden and Jon Spiers (C Patch)
10. James Keelaghan (C Patch)
Also memorable were Gram Parsons Tribute (Union Chapel), Kris Delmorst, Pete Mulvey and Jeffrey Foucault (Borderline), Mary Gauthier with Gurf Morlix Band (Blue Highways), Jayhawks and Thorns (Dingwalls) Greg Trooper solo (12 Bar). Best of the rest at the folk club were John Wesley Harding, Jez Lowe, Jeremy Taylor, Eric Roche, Kellie While, Mike Silver, Bob Cheevers, annA rydeR, Kreg Viesselman, Dana Robinson, Darryl Purpose, Brooks Williams and Christine Collister. Plus two outstanding house concerts...Michael Fracasso and Pierce Pettis. Wow...lots of gigs!
Gerry is the master programmer of music at the Cabbage Patch, Twickenham. 2004 will be a fine year for the Cabbage Patch. Check the gigs on out LISTINGS page and the Cabbage Patch website
Others that could well have figured if I'd heard them include Kris Delmhorst, Rodney Crowell, Boden and Spiers, Dr Faustus...and the Johnny Cash boxset.
Nelli Rees - Jazz Noir - Zone7 Z0CD 78503
Dub Selector 2 - A Global Adventure Into Modern Dub Culture - QMG 5019-2
Recycler - Iboga - Nation NRCD2012
Tabla Beat Science - Live In San Francisco at Stern Grove - Palm PalmCD2084-2
Richard Dorfmeister Presents A Different Drummer Selection - Various - Different Drummer DifCD24
Boris Kovac & LaDaABa Orchest - Ballads At The End Of Time - Piranha CD-PIR1787
Soweto Kinch - Conversations With The Unseen - Dune CD08
Maalem Mahjoub & Les Gnawa de Marrakech - Lila - Sound Of World SW100
Terry Callier - Total Recall - Mr Bongo MR BCD31
Gigi - Illuminated Audio - Palm PalmCD2100-2
Graham is our man of ROOTS and Mr World Unlimited - booker of the best music in the Birmingham area
10 Kathleen Edwards - Failer
9 Bill McGarvey - Tell Your Mother
8 Mary Lee's Corvette - 700 Miles
7 Jennie Stearns - Sing Desire
6 Linda McLean - Betty's Room
5 Tom Russell - Modern Art
4 Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman - Two
3 Oh Susanna - Oh Susanna
2 Caroline Herring - Wellspring
1 Josh Ritter - Hello Starling
Neil is Fish Records, suppliers of singer/songwriter, folk & acoustic music, Shrewsbury, England
Top 12 albums (in no particular order)
Aynsley Lister -- All Or Nothing
David Johansen & The Harry Smiths -- Shaker
Derrin Nauendorf -- Wasteland
Eugene 'Hideaway' Bridges -- Jump The Joint
Joe Fournier -- Whiskey Stars
Lee Sankey -- Tell Me There's A Sun
Ox -- Dust Bowl Revival
Phil Lee -- You Should Have Known Me Then
Radiotones -- Bound To Ride
Steely Dan -- Everything Must Go
The Ashtray Hearts -- Old Numbers
Tim Burgess -- I Believe
I know that not all of these albums were released this year but the ones that weren't are included because I discovered them this year.
Gig of the year was Tom McRae and A Girl Called Eddy @ King Tuts, Glasgow closely followed by The Radiotones @ The Howwood Inn.
My top six albums within folk/acoustic/folk rock of 2003
1. Richard Thompson: Old Kit Bag
2. Emmylou Harris: Stumble into Grace
3. Kate Rusby: Underneath the Stars
4. Bob Fox: Borrowed Moments
5. Martin Simpson: Richtousness and Humidity
6. Gaate (Norwegian folk rock): Jygri
Lars Nilsson, Sweden
Gail has internet radio shows on SpydaRadio and Hot 'n' Gold. She specialises in Country, Canadiana and good roots music! www.spydaradio.co.uk/comfort.html
Three That Should be on Everyone’s List:
Emmylou Harris – Stumble Into Grace (Nonesuch)
Lucinda Williams – World Without Tears (Lost Highway)
Warren Zevon – The Wind (Artemis)
Top Ten (ish) of 2003 (in alphabetical order):
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings – Bark (True North)
Carla Bozulich – Redheaded Stranger (DiCristina)
June Carter Cash – Wildwood Flower (Dualtone)
Caitlin Cary – I’m Staying Out (Yep Roc)
Rosanne Cash – Rules of Travel (Capital)
Vic Chesnutt – Silver Lake (New West)
Thad Cockrell – Warmth & Beauty (Yep Roc)
Joe Fournier – Whiskey Stars (Dusty Records)
Willard Grant Conspiracy - Regard the End (Loose)
Wanda Jackson – Heart Trouble (CMH Records)
Dayna Kurtz - Postcards from Downtown (Munich)
And, Just Too Good Not to Mention:
Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez – The Trouble With Humans (TrainWreck)
Bruce Cockburn – You’ve Never Seen Everything (High Romance Music/Cooking Vinyl)
Drive By Truckers – Decoration Day (New West Records)
Doug Hoekstra – Waiting (Paste Records)
Duane Jarvis – Delicious (BlueBuffalo Records)
The-Low-Country – welcome to the low country (nowrecordings)
Tom Ovans – Tombstone Boys, Graveyard Girls (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ox (Mark Browning) – Dust Bowl Revival (www.oxmusic.ws)
Amy Rigby – Til the Wheels Fall Off (Signature Sounds)
Tandy – To A Friend (Yellow Slipper)
Greg Trooper (“Floating”, Sugar Hill)
Urban Hillbilly Quartet – The A List, Best of… (Fundamental Records)
Jason Walker & the Last Drinks – Ashes & Wine (Laughing Outlaw)
Ben Weaver – Hollerin’ At A Woodpecker (www.bdcdistribution.com)
Alabama 3 - Last Train to Mashville (One Little Indian)
Beautiful, A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot (Borealis/Northern Blues) Fall 2003, Gordon Lightfoot was inducted into the brand new Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Perfect timing for this excellent tribute – Cowboy Junkies, Ron Sexsmith, Bruce Cockburn, Blue Rodeo to name a few of the contributors. I didn’t listen to Gordon Lightfoot the first time around – shame on me – I loved this album so much it had me running back to the originals. Now I’m one Canadian who’s proud to say I’m a Lightfoot fan.
Moon Over the Downs, The Trailer Star Tribute (SuperTiny Records)
This is a benefit album and part of the proceeds go to Cancer Research UK
(visit www.supertinyrecords.com for more information). Trailer Star is a
(fictional) underground UK folk hero. Fifteen artists were given his lyrics
(well, really Shaun Belcher’s fine poetry), added their music, creativity
and heart and this gorgeous album is the result. Contributors include Bob
Cheevers, Dan Israel, Cicero Buck, Ronny Elliott, Terry Clarke and Deanna
Varagona – each bringing something different to the project . It works
Terry Allen – Amerasia (Sugar Hill) Recorded ten years after the Vietnam war – the soundtrack to a movie that
never got made – recorded partly in Thailand and partly in Texas –
intelligent, thoughtful, tough and beautiful – the themes are timeless and
(unfortunately) still appropriate today. Sugar Hill is in the process of
re-issuing all Terry Allen’s albums. Get Them All!
Johnny Cash – “American IV, The Man Comes Around (Nonesuch)
An excellent album released late 2002. The title song says everything you
need to know about Johnny – written by him and inspired by the book of
Revelation (and June Carter Cash) – he sings with power, passion and a deep
spirituality. “Hurt” is a good interpretation but “The Man Comes Around” is
real Johnny Cash.
Ginny Hawker – Letters From My Father (Rounder)
Ginny Hawker can sing anything but she excels at those old-style traditional
songs that have become all the rage lately. This is her first album and
it’s produced by Tim O’Brien (a guy who knows a good thing when he hears
one). Her singing is straight from the heart and authentic to her
Appalachian culture. I was lucky enough to see her perform live last fall
at the Appalachian & Bluegrass Music Festival in Omagh, Ireland. She was a
revelation. Now I know what all the others are trying to emulate.
The Rosinators (“The Rosinators”, email@example.com)
I’ve become a groupie! Wherever the Rosinators go, I want to go too. Paul,
Fliss and Will are three excellent musicians who absolutely love to play –
enthusiastic, joyful and really good people. When the Rosinators play
everyone in the room has a smile on their face. Go to see them. Get the
album. You won’t regret it. They are at the Windmill in Brixton on
Saturday, 10th January. See you there!
It’s just my opinion but: People who say there is no good music out there
haven’t been listening.
Probably not a definitive best of 2003, but a hurriedly put together list of
'must hear' albums that have had heavy rotation on the (OTR) stereo this
M. Ward - Transfiguration Of Vincent
The Broken Family Band - Cold Water Songs
Royal City - Alone At The Microphone
Laura Viers - Troubled By The Fire
Okkervil River - Down The River Of Golden Dreams
Ox - Dust Bowl Revival
Giardini Di Miro - Punk... Not Diet
A Northern Chorus - Spirit Flags
The Bellyachers - Heavy In My Hands
The Dipsomaniacs - Praying Winter
Paul Sheeky, proprietor of Off The Radar Mail Order www.offtheradar.net
Top 18 (!) in alphabetical order
Alabama 3 - Last Train To Mashville (One Little Indian) - fusing gospel, country & blues, A3 have an acoustic line-up including a very fine fiddler. Woke Up This Morning? Yes, that's included.
Albert Lee - Heartbreak Hotel (Sugar Hill) Unique finger-picker Telecaster master with new album of pleasing Americana - quoth AL, "Speed isn't everything but it helps".
Blackie & The Rodeo Kings - Bark (True North) - Canadian supergroup Stephen Fearing, Colin Lindon & Tom Wilson. They'll rock your hat and then your socks off - and probably everything in between!
Bonnie Raitt - Silver Lining (Capitol) - Actually a 2002 album which didn't come my way until 2003. And then there was her gig at the Apollo Hamersmith - Wow! This slide guitarist may be in her fifties but she's as raunchy as they come. Gnawin' On it with Roy Rogers ties with Lucinda Williams' Righteously as the sexiest little number in town.
Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - The Trouble With Humans (Train Wreck) This duo is a winning combination and this, their second album together, is even better than their first. Chip (Wild Thing) on guitar is partnered by the delightful fiddleplayer and vocalist Carrie.
The Chucky Monroes - Fallen Angel (Laughing Outlaw) - swamp slidey rock/blues from this Australian power trio - excellent live too
Emmylou Harris - Stumble Into Grace (Nonesuch) - If I had to chose between Stumble ... and Red Dirt Girl, it would have to be the latter but the lady is faultless and deserves to be in everyones' top 10 every year for forever
Hamell on Trial - Tough Love (Righteous Babe) There's no one like bloody & unbowed survivor Ed Hamell - intense acoustic power performance - funny & profound songs.
Richard Thompson - The Old Kit Bag (Cooking Vinyl) - As good a studio album as he's ever produced. Class RT with Danny T back on bass, Michael Jerome on drums & produced by John Chelew (The Blind Boys of Alabama's Spirit of The Century).
Show Of Hands - Country Life (Hands On Music) - Will it prove to be their best yet? This is not a 'life' pretty-pictured in upper-crust magazines. Steve Knightley's songwriting & vocal prowess & Phil Beer's brilliant musicianship have combined in another acoustic masterpiece of earthy politics.
Steve Tilston - Such & Such (Market Square) - outstanding English songsmith and musician releases another album of his melodic contemporary folk.
Tim O'Brien - Traveler (Sugar Hill) - A journey via bluegrass songs, classy musicianship. Instant sonic appeal and (mandolin) four string staying power.
The Rosinators - The Rosinators (PDC Music) - The freshest old time/good-time gospel/folk/bluegrass acoustic music .... hallelujah! catch this 'stage-filling' trio live.
The Sorentinos - Love & Haight (The Major Label) - A retrospective but every list should include an album of their sunshine californian sunshine rock and Danny Sorentino's wonderful sharp/funny songs.
Tandy - To A Friend (Yellow Sipper)- There's a magical thing about Tandy - hear Mike Ferrio's acoustic roots songs and be taken prisoner to another world. There a simplicity in the transaction. Their new limited edition album To A Friend is a captive taker.
Greg Trooper - Floating (Sugar Hill) - Classy Steve Earle-admired singer-songwriter with a great voice. Not a bad track on this country rock essential.
Gillian Welch - Soul Journey (Acony) - Doesn't get better than this album which embodies the true folk soul of America - unless it's one of Gillian's other albums
Lucinda Williams - World Without Tears (Lost Highway) - Oooh err! - seductive or what? This southern lady has it in spades (& hearts)
Best gigs of the year - so many but Alabama 3 Acoustic @ The Windmill, Brixton supported by the excellent Joe Fournier and Curtis Eller (who yodals!) was quite special - one of those not well publicised gigs in a small but perfect venue. A3 were previewing acoustic songs from their Last Train To Mashville CD prior to their UK Winter tour. A solo Johnny Dowd @ The Spitz, as part of the Way Beyond Nashville season, was a unique experience (see review later) with the best support act of the year, power trio rockers Chicken Legs Weaver.
Best magazine of the year - Uncut. Their free cover CDs - often specially recorded with artists covering major songwriters songs - are a great introduction to new artists and have been particularly collectable this year. The writing is spot on and they've not gone down the Q trivia route.
Mentioned in dispatches: Pieta Brown - Pieta Brown (Trailer) - Gregs's daughter can sing the blues - classily produced and accompanied by guitar master & Greg B producer Bo Ramsey, George Harrison - Brainwashed (Parlophone), Daniel Lanois - Shine (Anti), Eve Sellis - Do You Know Me (Hippie Chick Twang), Martin Simpson - Righteousness & Humidity (Topic), Beautiful: A Tribute To Gordon Lightfoot - Various (Northern Blues) Chicken Legs Weaver - Nowhere (Wishbone) Johnny Dowd's proteges from Sheffield no less, Thea Gilmore - Avalanche (Hungry Dogs), Stephen Fearing - That's How I Walk (Philo), Cindy Bullens - Neverland - wonderful album released two years ago in USA but only available in UK in 2003, Eleanor McEvoy - Special Edition (Market Square). Look out for the new Joe Ely album and highly-rated young folk supergroup Dr Faustus ...
Sue Cavendish, Editor
that should keep you going for a bit!