Friday, May 30, 2014

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


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Friday, May 30, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
Webcasting! 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist

Opening Theme: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Hog Tied Over You  by Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs with Candye Kane
Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy by The Sadies
Lookin' For A "Love Me" Gal  by Big Sandy
My Baby's Gone  by The Backsliders
Baby Baby Don't Do Me Like That by James Hand
Papa Was a Steel-Headed Man by Robbie Fulks
Rated "X"  by Loretta Lynn

She's a Killer  by Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue
Cheater's World  by Amy Allison
I'll See You In My Dreams by Asylum Street Spankers
Life of Sin / A Little Light /Turtles All the Way Down by Sturgill Simpson
Red Red Robin  by Rosie Flores
Help Me Hank, I'm Falling  by Johnny Paycheck
Stupid Boy by Gear Daddies
I Need Somebody Bad Tonight by Rhonda Vincent
Life, Love, Death and the Meterman  by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies

Night and Day  by The Howlin' Brothers
Diddy Wa Diddie by Leon Redbone
Corn Money  by The Defibulators
Naked Light of Day by Butch Hancock
Carve That Possum  by Southern Culture On the Skids
God Has Lodged a Tenant In My Uterus by Tammy Faye Starlite & The Angels of Mercy
The Death of Country Music  by The Waco Brothers

Ain't Your Memory Got No Pride at All by Johnny Bush with Ray Price
Lawdy, What a Gal  by Hank Thompson
My Wife Thinks You're Dead by Junior Brown
Two Tongued Swear  by Joseph Huber

Candidate for Suicide by Hank Williams III
The Virginian  by Neko Case & Her Boyfriends
My Eyes  by Tony Gilkyson
Closing Theme: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: The Cosmic Country World of Sturgill Simpson

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
May 30, 2014

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, the second solo album by eastern Kentucky native Sturgill Simpson, surely is one of the strangest country-music albums I've heard in a long time. It's also one of the most authentic sounding new country albums to cross my eardrums in a long while — even though there are a couple of spots where the music drifts from its sturdy '70s outlaw foundation into raw psychedelia.

And yes, I consider this “authentic country” even with lyrics like, "reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain" and open references to marijuana, LSD, psilocybin, and DMT. And that’s just in the first song.

But Simpson is not some smirking, wise-guy cowpunker mocking the hicks. Nor is Metamodern Sounds a (meta) modern version of those laff-loaded redneck novelty songs of the late '60s, in which country singers made fun of hippies, long hair, protests, love-ins, funny cigarettes, etc.

No, the metaphysics-minded Simpson has a healthy imagination, but this is earnest stuff. His reptile aliens come straight from the heart. He's a true hillbilly visionary, and he's got some serious things to tell us.

So who is this guy?

Simpson was born in Kentucky in the late '70s and spent part of his youth in the Pacific Northwest. ("Met the devil in Seattle, spent nine months inside the lion’s den,” he sings on the new album.) He served in the U.S. Navy and actually worked on the railroad — reportedly, all the livelong day. He fronted a band called Sunday Valley until he went on his own a couple of years ago.

Last year Simpson released a highly acclaimed album called High Top Mountain, which included some fine original tunes as well as an inspired cover of the late Steve Fromholz's "I'd Have to Be Crazy."

Sturgill in the Land of Reptile Aliens
Listening to that song, the best-known version of which was by Willie Nelson, it's not hard to figure why it would appeal to Simpson. "I know I've done weird things/I told people I heared things st says stet/When silence was all that abounds .... And I'd have to be weird/To grow me a beard/Just to see what the rednecks would do."

Indeed, on the opening track of Metamodern Sounds, "Turtles All the Way Down" (which has a melody that sounds like it came straight out of the Kris Kristofferson songbook), Simpson takes the weirdness a lot further than growing a beard. This is the reptile aliens/psilocybin/DMT song. The backwoods cosmology here also includes Jesus, Buddha, and Satan. All in all, it’s a few galaxies beyond drinkin' beer, drivin’ your pickup, and salutin' the red, white, and blue. Let’s see what the rednecks will do about this.

"I expected to be labeled the 'acid country guy,' but it's not something I dwell on," Simpson said in a recent interview with NPR. "I would urge anyone that gets hung up on the song being about drugs to give another listen ... to me 'Turtles' is about giving your heart to love and treating everyone with compassion and respect no matter what you do or don't believe.”

What he said.

Peel off the layers of cosmic debris and the song boils down to the line, "Love's the only thing that ever saved my life." The conclusion he reaches is that after all of his experimentation with drugs, religion, philosophies, and truth-seeking, real salvation comes from simple love and kindness, not the “nursery rhymes,” and “fairy tales of blood and wine” and other distractions.

Not that Simpson is taking a “just say no” stance, by any means. In fact, he’s quite unapologetic. As he sings in the refrain of “Life of Sin,” one of the rowdier honky-tonkers on the album, “every day I'm smoking my brain hazy/All I can do to keep from going crazy/But the paranoia is slowly creeping in/I keep drinking myself silly/Only way for this hillbilly/And I thank God for this here life of sin.”

But don’t worry. The voices Simpson’s hearing in “Voices” aren’t of the hallucinatory nature. They’re the prattle of politicians, preachers, and assorted hucksters: “Voices behind curtains, forked tongues that have no name.”

And even though religious dogma doesn’t offer much to Simpson, it’s clear he finds value in the essence. In “A Little Light Within,” a rousing little gospel-influenced tune, he sings, “Don't need nothing but a little light in my heart/Glowing inside me like a blanket of love.”

This album is most subversive when the music itself veers toward the land of reptile aliens.

The nearly seven-minute “It Ain’t All Flowers” starts with a short burst of sonic exploration with a growling guitar and fun with a phase shifter. The picking of an acoustic guitar signals that Simpson and band are about to get down to the real song, a swampy little groove with lyrics that deal with “cleaning out the darkest corners of my mind” and “dancing with demons.” The guitars keep getting crazier and crazier. About halfway into it, Simpson lets loose with a bloodcurdling scream. The last couple of minutes of the song are basically a journey to the center of the mind.

And yet this singer is quite capable of a good, simple love song. “The Promise” — a cover of a song by an obscure group from the New Wave era called When in Rome — is done as a slow, soulful apology and a pledge of undying love served in a heartbreakingly beautiful melody. And Simpson’s not even above a little old-time country nostalgia. In “Pan Bowl,” the unlisted “bonus” track, he recalls a home out in the country, visiting his Uncle Everett and his great grandma: “I’d give anything to go back to the days I was young ... wild as a rattlesnake right from the start.”

“The dirt don’t hurt the way I sing,” Simpson proclaims in one song. And he’s right. He sounds down to earth even when you might think he’s lost in space.

Enjoy some pyschedelic country videos

 

Here's some earlier Sturgill:



Monday, May 26, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Alt-Country Songs of the '90s

Here's some '90s nostalgia for you: Remember the golden years of alt country (aka "insurgent country," "Ya'llternative" etc.)? A weird, wild spirit of irreverence and craziness permeated much of the music -- even though every now and then some of the tunes came out quite pretty. The best of the genre celebrated the traditions of country music, even though they frequently made fun of world of country.

Here are some of my favorites. (Note: not all these videos were performed in the '90s, but that's where all these songs came from.)

* "The Death of Country Music" by The Waco Brothers

 

* "Love, Life, Death & The Meter Man" by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies

 

 * "Hogs on the Highway" by The Bad Livers



* "The Virginian" by Neko Case

  

 * "Papa Was a Steel-Headed Man" by Robbie Fulks

 

 * "My Wife Thinks You're Dead" by Junior Brown

 

* "My Baby's Gone" by The Backsliders 



 * "Junkyard in the Sun" by Butch Hancock 



* "Tallacatcha" by Alvin Youngblood Hart



 * "Cheaters World" by Amy Allison (Couldn't find a video, but here's the Spotify link)








Sunday, May 25, 2014

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST





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Sunday, May 25, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
Webcasting!
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's the playlist below

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New Electric Mess Album Coming

One of my favorite New York garage/punk bands of the last few years is The Electric Mess from Brooklyn. Their song "He Looks Like a Psycho" from their 2012 album Falling off the Face of the Earth is a classic of the genre.

I was excited recently to learn that there's a new Mess album just about to drop. It's called House on Fire and I hope to be playing it on Terrell's Sound World and The Big Enchilada podcast soon.

Below is a new video featuring some of the songs from the new album. Enjoy!


Friday, May 23, 2014

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


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Friday, May 23, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
Webcasting! 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist below:




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Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Sunday, May 18, 2014

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST





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Sunday, May , 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
Webcasting!
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's the playlist below


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Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The NEW Big Enchilada Podcast Episode


THE BIG ENCHILADA




From the heart of Crazy Town -- and from all over the world -- comes some high-energy insanity, wild tunes popping up like sonic dandelions.


(Background Music: Wylde Tymes by Satan's Pilgrims)
Rollin' Voodoo by Cheetah Chrome
Walls are Shakin' by Jonah Gold & His Silver Apples
The Gunfighter's Comeback by Drifting Mines
Andre the Giant by Jungle Fever
Hang on Sloopy by Lolita #18

(Background Music: Revenge of the Mole Men by Speed Demons)
Troglodyte Girl by The 99ers
Jane by Clint Eph. Sebastian & The Junkers
Rose Red by Lisa Doll & the Rock 'n' Roll Romance
Dead Man's Shoes by Chuck E. Weiss
Golden Rule by John the Conquerer
Your Love by Marshmallow Overcoat
Leadfoot Jones by Kong Fuzi

(Background Music:Variety Theme by John Lurie)
It's Great to Be Here by Help Me Devil with Tami Lynn
Shock Ya by Mules
Camisa de Fuerza y Los Saicos
Savage Victory by Thee Oh Sees
Springtime in the Rockies by Tiny Tim & Brave Combo
(Background Music: Blue Shift by Davie Allan & The Arrows)


Play it below:


Friday, May 16, 2014

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


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Friday May 16, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
Webcasting! 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist below:
Like the Santa Fe Opry Facebook page 

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE
Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, May 15, 2014

TERRELL'S TUNEUP: Five Recent Songs I Love

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
May 16,  2014

Usually in this column I write about new, or at least recent albums.

But this week I’m going to try something different and write about a bunch of new — or at least recent — songs.

Langford looks for drones during a Waco Bros. set
* “Drone Operator” by Jon Langford & Skull Orchard. For centuries, going back at least as far as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” there have been anti-war protest songs written about the warriors themselves, portraying scared and lonesome soldiers barely hanging on in the hellish environment that is war.

But Langford’s tune, from his latest album, Here Be Monsters, is a different kind of war protest, which make sense, because it’s a different kind of war, with a different kind of warrior.

The drone campaigns in all the various theaters in this "war on terror" are designed to, as Langford sings, “stem the flow of body bags the politicians find so hard to explain."

As the narrator (and title character) explains, “I’m not really a soldier. I’m more likely to die/By car wreck or cancer/or that eye in the sky.” No, he’s not dodging bullets or improvised explosive devices. He’s just another guy at the office, complaining about the traffic on the way to work, drinking coffee, and when the workday’s done having a beer and watching some basketball with his co-workers.

“Yeah, I’m a drone operator. I am part of the team/While I study my monitor, wipe some dust from the screen." Of course, things don’t always go smoothly: “It didn’t look like a wedding. It really wasn’t my call.”

Being so far physically removed from the drone he’s operating seems to play with the narrator’s psyche, though. At one point in the song, he declares, “I’m like a god with a thunderbolt sitting on a big white cloud.”

And by the end of the song, it’s clear that he’s in a bar bragging about his work to some prospective paramour. And apparently he’s thinking of other uses for the drone technology beyond fighting the evildoers: "In through your window. You’ll never know./You’ll never know. I’ll follow you home.”

After a near-metallic guitar blast that kicks off the song, “Drone Operator" turns into a gentle, lilting song with a melody that somehow reminds me of a lost Fred Neil song from the early '60s. Langford is backed by an angelic chorus featuring Tawny Newsome and Jean Cook, who also plays violin.

Besides creating the best anti-war song I’ve heard in years, Langford (best known for his work with pioneering British punks The Mekons and insurgent country heroes The Waco Brothers) and director Hassan Amejal have created one of the most artful music videos I’ve seen in years, featuring a slightly different arrangement of “Drone Operator.” Check it out below.



* “Another Murder in New Orleans” by Bobby Rush with Dr. John. Whoever thought that a song that started out as a Crime Stoppers benefit could have so much soul?

Then again, no one would doubt that a Marvel Team-Up between the old chitlin'-circuit charmer Rush and the hoodoo-fried piano professor known as the Night Tripper would be anything less than soulful.

It’s true that Rush and Dr. John (backed by a tight little blues unit called Blinddog Smokin’) did this song to benefit the organization that pays cash rewards for anonymous tips that lead to arrests and convictions.

“When I heard the lyric, I thought, ‘You’re talking about New Orleans, my town?'” Rush told The New Orleans Times-Picayune last year. “Let me be a part of this. I want to be part of something to stop the crime.'”

The song’s lyrics deal with the rise in violent crime in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. It’s available on Rush’s new album, Decisions.



* “Box of Pine” by Black Eyed Vermillion. It’s been nearly five years since this “underground country,” "punk-roots,” whatever band, fronted by Gary Lindsey (a former sideman of Hank 3, aka Hank Williams III), released its debut album, Hymns for Heretics.

I was beginning to give up hope on the gravel-voiced Lindsey. But now comes this song, an inspired collaboration with Stevie Tombstone (formerly of The Tombstones).

It’s a gritty but catchy, minor-key barroom sing-along with Eastern European overtones, and if you can listen to it without thinking of Tom Waits, you could probably hear the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.

It's got a great video also:



* “Superstar” by Alice Bag. Here’s the best Jesus Christ Superstar cover since that golden era when the Afghan Whigs did a deadly version of “The Temple” and Scratch Acid performed a punked-up “Damned for all Time.”

Ms. Bag
Ms. Bag (Alicia Armendariz), best known as a singer with the first-wave Los Angeles punk band The Bags, posted this last month on her SoundCloud page as a free download, along with the message:  “This one goes out to all my homegirls from Sacred Heart of Mary HIgh School. Happy Easter.”

I didn’t attend any Catholic girls school, but back in my senior year at Santa Fe High, everybody was into Jesus Christ Superstar. My friend Jake even wrote an obscene version of this song about one of his teachers.

But I like Alice’s better, with its slow, funky groove.

But here's the bad news: The darn thing has disappeared from Bag's SoundCloud page. I'm lucky I downloaded this when I did. Oh well, at you can still find Alice’s moving version of “Angel Baby,” dedicated to her late sister, there. And I'll play "Superstar

Here's "Angel Baby."




* “That Lucky Old Sun” by Leon Russell. This song is from Russell’s new album, Life Journey. Written by Haven Gillespie and Beasley Smith back in the ‘40s, it’s definitely my favorite one on the record.

I’ve said it before. When I was just a grade school kid and heard Ray Charles’ version of this old Frankie Laine hit, it was one of the first times that music actually made me sad. Even a little kid could sense the sorrow and frustration through al the overblown orchestration when Charles sang, “I fuss with my woman and toil for my kids/Sweat ’til I’m wrinkled and gray.” It was the sound of a man going nowhere, and it was painful.

I still like Charles’ “Lucky Old Sun” best, though the lesser-known take by Jerry Lee Lewis, which was a true solo effort (unreleased until decades after it was recorded), just the Killer at his piano, is up there too.

But while Russell’s cover doesn’t displace those versions, it’s a noble effort and, like Russell’s best, it’s full of Okie soul. Greg Leisz’s subtle steel guitar adds some texture. But what gives it power is Russell’s voice, which is getting a bit ragged with age but full of emotion.

I couldn't find Leon's version, so you'll just have to settle for Ray Charles.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST


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Sunday, May 11 , 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
Webcasting!
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's the playlist below


Like the Terrell's Sound World Facebook page

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE

Friday, May 09, 2014

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


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Friday, May, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
Webcasting! 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist below:





Like the Santa Fe Opry Facebook page 

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE
Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, May 08, 2014

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Pixies -- Damned If They Do

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
May 9, 2014

I pity the poor Pixies.  For all those years since they reunited in the early part of the 21st century (after breaking up more than a decade before that), their fans, myself among them, thought it was wonderful that Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering, and Black Francis were back together singing their hits (a relative term in the realm of indie rock) from back in the day.  But wouldn't it be great if they actually started writing new songs, making new music together — before they turn into to a self parody, playing lifeless versions of "Wave of Mutilation," "Gigantic," and "Monkey Gone to Heaven" to sleepy casino crowds.

Lo and behold, they did just that. (Well, three of the four did. Bassist/singer Kim Deal left the band last year.) But the reaction to the new album, Indie Cindy, has ranged from blah to vicious.

"There's something un-Pixielike about that tentativeness ..." writes Dan LeRoy of Alternative Press. 

"The most surprising thing about Pixies' first album in 23 years is that it holds so few surprises ..." says The Independent's Andy Gill.

Meanwhile, writing for Paste, Stephen M. Deusner snarls that the album "represents either an act of masochistic bravado, a display of stark determination, or — and this is the worst option — an act of blindered ignorance."

Cole Waterman of Pop Matters sighs, "In many ways, it regrettably falls in the bin of most reunion albums, being a dispatch from a band that is still technically capable, but should have just left well enough alone."

You can't win for losing. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Insert your own cliché.
I hate when the jackals of criticdom close in on musicians I love. But I must admit that many of the points expressed above are good ones.

It's true that even the best songs on Indie Cindy aren't up to the ridiculously high standards The Pixies set for themselves in the mid '80s. And it's true that many of the songs here are overproduced and fussy, with too many flourishes of techno. Some songs sound like third-rate Bob Mould outtakes.
And it's true that if you're a hopeless Pixies geek and got the three EPs the band released during the past few months (I bought two of the three), you already have all the songs on this album. A 13th tune, the "bonus" track "Women of War," one of the better rockers here, is available as a free download on their website.

But old-time Pixie fans shouldn't dismiss this album offhand. There are some healthy demon babies splashing around in the bath water of Indie Cindy

The first song, "What Goes Boom," lives up to its title. It starts with a metallic guitar roar but somehow wanders into a sweet melodic chorus. The lyrics are built around some inspired Black Francis horndog gibberish: "I like that slinky little punky, little bit funky/Itty bitty chunky right there/Little bit lippy, a whipped cream hippie/Zip and unzippy and I want her." The song also has shout-outs to Ringo Starr and Chet Baker.

"Greens and Blues," is the newest Black Francis alien tune, and, with prominent acoustic guitar strumming, it's gorgeously catchy. "I said I'm human, but you know I lie/I'm only visiting this shore ..."

While some complain that "Ring the Bell" sounds too polished for its own good, what I hear is Francis' not-so-secret Brian Wilson influence hanging out for all to see. (Remember, he covered Wilson's "Hang On to Your Ego" on one of his early solo records.)

The title song uses lots of tried-and-true Pixies tricks – herky-jerky changes, fast/slow, minor key/major key, harsh/mellow, sweet crooning and wacko ranting: "Put this down for the record," Francis dares you. "It's more or less un-checkered/Wasted days and wasted nights/Made me a [expletive] beggar/No soul, my milk is curdled/I’m the burgermeister of purgatory."
At the moment, my favorite song is "Blue Eyed Hexe," a stripped-down stomper with audible chunks of shameless refried glam rock. (There's even some cowbell.)

To riff on one of the song titles, by releasing Indie Cindy, the Pixies have put a toe in the ocean. I just hope the sharks that ripped into it don’t scare them away from jumping in again.

Recommended:

* Solo by Cheetah Chrome. Gene O'Connor, better known in the mists of punk-rock lore as Cheetah Chrome, is the fierce guitarist whose work with The Dead Boys — and, before them, Rocket From the Tombs — helped define the basic sound of the genre. He's the guy behind "Sonic Reducer," for the love of Elvis! He deserves eternal love, respect, and gratitude from anyone claiming to be a rock 'n' roll fan for that alone.

But even though he's been on the fringes of the music biz for about 40 years, Solo is Cheetah's first solo studio album. (He did a live one, Alive in Detroit, back in 2000. Some of Solo's songs are found there, too.) And it's not really an album, just a 7-song EP. But that's just about my only gripe about it. There are some great tunes here.

The material on this record comes from two major sessions: Three tracks are from a 1996 (!) session in Woodstock, New York, produced by Genya Ravan (she also produced the first Dead Boys album, Young, Loud and Snotty), while others came more than a decade later, from sessions for The Batusis, a bitchen little one-off "super-group" featuring Cheetah and New York Dolls guitarist Syl Sylvain.

The record starts off with a tasty little instrumental called "Sharky." Cheetah's ragged voice comes in with the next number, "East Side Story." The jangly guitar in this song is much closer to folk-rock than to "Sonic Reducer," but the lyrics paint some harsh scenery.

"There's a devil in my left ear, there's an angel in my right/and there's a ghost in my face daring me to dive/got a junkie inside me who wants to get high/got a dead man inside me who didn't want to die."
It probably won't shock anyone familiar with the Chrome story that some of the songs here deal with heroin addiction. In "Nuthin'," he spits, "For all of my life I wanted to be, more than just another junkie out on Avenue C."

But a cheetah belongs in the jungle, and that’s where he heads in “Rollin’ Voodoo,” a menacing, percussion-heavy workout complete with “woo woos” straight out of “Sympathy for the Devil.” Bo Diddley and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins would probably be jealous, but I think deep down they would approve.


Video Time!


and here's a guitar lesson from Cheetah Chrome

Sunday, May 04, 2014

TERRELL'S SOUND WORLD PLAYLIST


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Sunday, May 4, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M. 
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell
Webcasting!
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrell(at)ksfr.org

Here's the playlist below:



Like the Terrell's Sound World Facebook page

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE

Friday, May 02, 2014

THE SANTA FE OPRY PLAYLIST


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Friday, May 2, 2014 
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM 
Webcasting! 
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time 
Host: Steve Terrell 
101.1 FM
email me during the show! terrel(at)ksfr.org

Here's my playlist below:











Like the Santa Fe Opry Facebook page 

Subscribe to The Big Enchilada Podcast! CLICK HERE

Thursday, May 01, 2014

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: The Kind of Music That Made Me Love Country In the First Place

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
May 2, 2014

If you miss good old-fashioned honky-tonk male-females duets — the he-said, she-said storytelling of George Jones and Tammy Wynette on "Golden Ring"; the sexually charged barbs between Johnny Cash and June Carter on "Jackson"; the sweet teasing between Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty on "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly"; the breathtaking harmonies of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris on "Hearts on Fire" — here's a new album that proves the art form isn't dead.

Before the World Was Made is the name of the record, and Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay, both of whom split their time between Austin and Nashville, are the singers. And as with those venerated duos of old, virtually all their songs are full of heartache, humor, and spunk. Though the music honors the time-honored form of the country lovebird duet, the songs here — all original and most written together by Leigh and McKay — are fresh. Producer Gurf Morlix, who also plays some pedal steel and lap steel here, keeps it nice and simple, nice and country.

This is the second album of country duets involving Leigh that I'm familiar with. Back in 2007, she teamed up with Texas honky-tonker (and Rob Zombie crony — but that's another story) Jesse Dayton on an excellent little album called Holdin' Our Own and Other Country Gold Duets. That was a collection of mostly original tunes, though there was a liberal sprinkling of covers, among them versions of "Back Street Affair," "Take Me," and "Long-Legged Guitar Pickin' Man."

There are some real standouts on Before the World Was Made. The first one to grab me was "Let's Don't Get Married." After each singer declares undying love for the other, the chorus goes, "Let's don't get married, let's stay in love ... 'Cause what we have is just too good to go and mess up with all that stuff." However, just a couple of songs later, both Leigh and McKay are begging for holy matrimony on "Be My Ball and Chain." McKay pledges, "I'll hold your purse while you try on dresses." Leigh responds, "I'll clean up all your little nasty messes, if you'll be my ball and chain." She just wants him to "meet me at church and don't 'cha be drinkin'."

"Before We Come to Our Senses" is a classic hillbilly Romeo and Juliet, "We love each other even though our parents say we're bad for each other" song. As they contemplate running away to elope, Leigh sings, "My daddy says you're a no-good so and so, and you come from a long, long line/of good-for-nothin's, never even learned how to earn themselves a worn-out dime." McKay responds, "My mama says your folks are the kind who treat everybody real mean and they walk around town with their noses in the air like they think they was king and queen."

Meanwhile, "Let's Go to Lubbock on Vacation" sounds like it might be about the same couple, still married, a few years down the line. "This city life has got me in a panic/You've got to take me somewhere more romantic." Apparently, Lubbock is the answer. "Then we'll know we're really in love."

"Please Reconsider" is a straightforward, yearning plea that sounds like something Felice and Boudleaux Bryant would have written for the Everly Brothers 50-some years ago. Leigh and McKay go Hawaiian on "Salty Kisses in the Sand." (That's McKay on the ukulele.) The album ends with an acoustic song called "Great Big Oldsmobile," about a couple growing old together. "When you're 92, know that I'll still wanna fool around in the afternoon with you," Leigh sings. A touching thought — just don't think about it too much.

I do believe that several of the tunes here could have been bona fide C & W hits back in the day. One thing is for certain — it's songs like this that made me love country music in the first place.

Leigh and McKay are scheduled to do a show in Santa Fe on June 9. According to their web site,  they'll be at Duel Brewing (1228 Parkway Drive, 505-474-5301), that night.

Also recommended:

* Only Me by Rhonda Vincent. Speaking of material that made me love country music in the first place, this album is nothing short of a doozy by a talent that deserves wider recognition. Vincent has to be one of the most undeservedly under-recognized musicians in Nashville today. Starting out in the world of bluegrass, she has a pure, beautiful voice, and she's not afraid to wail. She also knows her way around a mandolin.

This album is divided into two six-song discs (needlessly, because everything would have easily fit on one). The first is a bluegrass set — acoustic, with only traditional instruments — while the second is country. Both discs are full of impressive tunes.

The best bluegrass tracks are "I Need Somebody Bad Tonight," a sweet weeper in which Vincent explains, "'cause I just lost somebody good"; "It's Never Too Late," a song about a wife-killer winning redemption through Jesus; and a duet with Daryle Singletary on "We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds," an old Melba Montgomery song that she recorded with George Jones in the pre-Tammy days. Not quite as strong is the title song, featuring guest vocals by Willie Nelson and guest guitar by Willie's trusty Trigger.

The second disc, the country one, features steel guitar, electric guitars, and drums instead of banjos, etc. It starts off with the only Vincent original on this album, "Teardrops Over You," a good, slow cry-in-your-beer tune. It's also got a rousing cover of the country classic "Drivin' Nails," written by Jerry Irby and made famous by Ernest Tubb. There are not one but two songs written or co-written by "Whispering" Bill Anderson, both sweet honky-tonk sawdust-floor shuffles, "Once a Day" and "Bright Lights and Country Music."

"Beneath Still Waters," a steel-heavy weeper written by Dallas Frazier, is nothing short of stunning. This tune was recorded by George Jones back in the '60s. While it's virtually impossible to match Jones' voice in his prime, Vincent truly does it justice with her simple, guileless approach. I bet Jones would have loved this version.

Country lovebirds: On The Santa Fe Opry, I'll be playing an entire set of country duets, including some classics as well as more recent offerings. That's 10 p.m. Friday, May 2, on KSFR-FM 101.1, streaming HERE

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