(For all back issues go to the Archive)
GLEN CAMPBELL, Live in Japan--Wondering why Live in Japan did not merit a U.S. release is not what anyone is going to think about when they experience the vitality and spirit of the artist’s performance at Kosei Nenkin Hall in Tokyo, as recorded on May 29, 1975. With Campbell now on his Goodbye Tour after being diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s Disease, with presumably his final studio album (the intensely moving Ghost On the Canvas) gathering rave reviews, Live in Japan serves as kind of a reality check…
BILL EMERSON & SWEET DIXIE, The Touch of Time--In The Touch of Time Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie have done nothing less than craft a traditional bluegrass album as beautiful as it is meaningful.
JANIE FRICKE, Country Side of Bluegrass--When she was a hit making juggernaut in the 1980s, Janie Fricke was viewed by some country music critics and historians as a harbinger of traditional country’s doom, given the popularity and influence of her many Billy Sherrill-produced (read: pop-inflected) hits. Originally available on a small label in 2004 as The Bluegrass Sessions, this 2012 reissue, on which Fricke reconfigures many of those hits in bluegrass form (with the able assistance of Luke Bulla, Randy Kohrs, Andy Leftwich, Mark Fain, Jimmy Mattingly and other redoubtable pickers), is a reminder of the stellar work she did in her commercial heyday. The irony is that Country Side of Bluegrass suggests she was way more country than the pundits and hardliners ever gave her credit for back in the day. She wins.
ED LITTLEFIELD, JR., My Western Home--At only eight songs Ed Littlefield, Jr.’s second solo album may seem slight, but those eight songs add up to 59 minutes of music lovingly rendered, subtly performed and felt to the artist’s core.
WILLIE NELSON, Remember Me, Vol. 1--Yet another album of time-honored mainstream country hits, Willie Nelson’s Remember Me, Vol. 1 may have some devoted Willie fans out there shaking their heads and lamenting anew the absence of any fresh Willie tunes here and charging him with merely coasting (again). Yet, if he doesn’t get it up, so to speak, on each and every track to every fan’s and critic’s liking, Willie has still made the album title something more meaningful than merely the name by which we know a great country song from the days of yore. As if we would ever forget.