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Profile: Best Of Emmylou HarrisAlready celebrated as a discoverer and interpreter of other artists' songs, 12-time Grammy Award winner Emmylou Harris has, in the last decade, gained admiration as much for her eloquently straightforward songwriting as for her incomparably expressive singing. On Hard Bargain, her third Nonesuch disc, she offers 11 original songs-three of them co-written with Grammy- and Oscar-winning composer Will Jennings-that touch on the autobiographical while reaching for the universal. She recalls the storied time she spent with her mentor Gram Parsons ("The Road") and composes a sweet remembrance of the late singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle ("Darlin' Kate") and the time they spent together, right up to the end. Harris locates poignancy and fresh meaning in events both historical and personal. On "My Name Is Emmett Till" she recounts a violent, headline-making story from the civil rights era in a heartbreakingly plain-spoken narrative, told from the murdered victim's perspective; on "Goodnight Old World," she fashions a bittersweet lullaby to her newly born grandchild, contrasting a grown-up's world-weariness with a baby's wide-eyed wonder. "Big Black Dog," with its loping canine-like rhythms, is also a true tale, about a black lab mix named Bella. Harris, who runs a dog shelter called Bonaparte's Retreat on her property, rescued Bella from the Nashville Metro pound and provided an especially happy ending to her story: "She goes on the tour bus with me now, along with another one of my rescues. I think of all the years on the road I wasted without a dog. They make it so much more pleasant. I'm making up for lost time now, that's for sure."Few in pop or country music have achieved such honesty or revealed such maturity in their writing.
Forty years into her career, Harris shares the hard-earned wisdom that-hopefully if not inevitably-comes with getting older, though she's never stopped looking ahead. The candor of Harris's words is matched by a simple, elegantly rendered production from Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, Jack Ingram, Cage the Elephant), with whom she'd previously recorded a theme for the romantic drama, Nights in Rodanthe. While Harris's acclaimed 2008 All I Intended to Be was recorded intermittently over a span of three years and featured an all-star cast of musician friends, including Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, and the McGarrigles, Hard Bargain was cut in a mere four weeks last summer at a Nashville studio, with only Harris, Joyce, and multi-instrumentalist Giles Reaves. Joyce gets big results from this strikingly small combo: Harris played acoustic guitars and overdubbed all the harmonies; Joyce layered shimmering electric guitar parts; Reaves-employing piano, pump organ, and synths as well as playing percussion-conjured gorgeous atmospherics, often giving these tracks, as Harris puts it, "a floaty, dreamy quality.""It's such a beautifully realized sound," says Harris. "We didn't have the need for anyone else given how versatile Giles and Jay are. We became our own little family in the studio. We cut very simply, with just maybe a click and whatever they wanted to play and me on an acoustic guitar, going for that vocal and that feel, right to the heart of the matter. After we got a track, there were all those lovely brush strokes they were able to add to it later on. I particularly love the guitar part Jay put on 'My Name Is Emmett Till.' It's a simple part but it just breaks my heart whenever I hear it. It's like a cry from heaven or something. Jay works really fast but he puts so much thought into what he does. I've been very lucky to work with so many great producers over the years and now I guess it was time to increase the stable."On "The Road,"1. One Of These Days
2. Sweet Dreams
3. To Daddy
4. (You Never Can Tell) C'est La Vie
5. Making Believe
6. East From Now On
7. Together Again
8. If I Could Only Win Your Love
9. Too Far Gone
10. Two More Bottles Of Wine
11. Boulder To Birminham
12. Hello Stranger$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The McGarrigle HourKate and Anna McGarrigle are Canadian songwriting sisters whose talents came to global recognition in 1974 when Linda Ronstadt recorded Annas Heart Like a Wheel. The McGarrigle sisters were signed to Warner Brothers and recorded three albums. The sisters then recorded two albums for Joe Boyds label, Hannibal, in the early 80s. During this time Kate and Anna raised families and toured on occasion. In 1998 the sisters rejoined Joe Boyd along with family and friends to record, The McGarrigle Hour.
Ryko, which became home to Hannibal in the early 90s, celebrates The McGarrigle Hour as part of the Ryko Analogue Vinyl Series. Ryko Analogue is committed to releasing classic albums, cult favorites, and audiophile titles on vinyl. The LP package for The McGarrigle Hour includes a set of liner notes from album producer, Joe Boyd, that he penned especially for this LP release.
Featuring appearances by family and friends: Emmylou Harris, Loudon Wainwright, Linda Ronstadt, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Chaim Tannenbaum
Jane McGarrigle and Lily Lanken.
1. Schooldays (Loudon Wainwright)
2. Skip Rope Song (Jesse Winchester)
3. Gentle Annie (Stephen Foster)
4. Alice Blue Gown (McCarthy & Tierney)
5. Porte En ArriÉre (D.L. Menard)
6. What'll I Do (Irving Berlin)
1. Dig My Grave (Traditional)
2. Cool River (Anna McGarrigle & Audrey Bean)
3. Heartburn (Rufus Wainwright)
4. NaCl (Sodium Chloride) (Kate McGarrigle)
5. Bon Voyage (J. Laure / Small)
6. Allez-Vous-En (Cole Porter)
1. Green Green Rocky Road (Traditional)
2. Young Love (Cartey & Joyner)
3. Year Of The Dragon (Martha Wainwright)
4. Forever And The Same (Phillippe Tatartcheff & Anna McGarrigle)
1. Talk To Me Of Mendocino (Kate McGarrigle)
2. Baltimore Fire (Traditional)
3. Johnny's Gone To Hilo (Traditional)
4. Time On My Hands (Chaim Tannenbaum)
5. Goodnight Sweetheart (Campbell, Connelly & Noble)$18.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Heart Like A Wheel
Linda Ronstadt's 1974 Breakthrough Remains a Paragon of Extraordinary Performance, Arranging, and Songwriting: Heart Like a Wheel Features an All-Star Instrumental Cast and Singer at Her Best
Audiophile Clarity, Profound Depth, Lifelike Naturalism, and Transfixing Warmth: Numbered, Limited-Edition Mobile Fidelity 180g LP Meticulously Mastered for Supreme Sound
How to put the ageless appeal, artistic splendor, and imaginative instrumental variety of Linda Ronstadt's Heart Like a Wheel in proper perspective more than four decades after its original release? For starters, the 1974 landmark earned three major Grammy nominations and won for Best Country Vocal Performance - Female. But that feat pales in comparison to what the record did for Ronstadt, who became the decade's most in-demand, multifaceted, and cherished female singer soon after it captured the public's attention. Or the fact that it remains a paragon of songwriting, arrangement, and performance - a trifecta that still holds sway in this era or any. Mobile Fidelity's reissue puts it over the top to stay.
Mastered on Mobile Fidelity's world-renowned mastering system and pressed on dead-quiet 180g vinyl at RTI, this LP reissue presents Heart Like a Wheel with astounding clarity, depth, and naturalism. Still the most difficult instrument to accurately capture, the female voice is here conveyed with transfixing realism, warmth, and feeling. The inner beauty of Ronstadt's flawless phrasing and passionate inflections bears out with obvious candor, her tonality and emotiveness pouring through every lyric and wordless expression.
Yet the advantages of this limited, numbered-edition audiophile version extend far beyond the intimacy afforded Ronstadt's singing. Specifically, the majesty of Peter Asher's crafty arrangements now come to life like never before. Free of the fatiguing high frequencies and flat, dull responsiveness inherent on previous remasters and the original Capitol issue, respectively, this 180g LP sets the sonic standard and lets the extraordinary instrumental blends blossom with openness, airiness, and organic textures.
While Ronstadt's interpretive skills and stunning vocals remain front and center, the all-star cast of California-based musicians that helped transform Heart Like a Wheel into a 1970s mainstream pop-rock staple - and a lasting example of the period's laid-back West Coast sound - cannot be forgotten. Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur, Herb Pedersen, David Lindley, J.D. Souther, and Andrew Gold are just a few of the luminaries that ensure the Billboard chart-topping set rests on an unassailable foundation. Asher puts everything in the right place and, in concert with the headliner, chooses a repertoire of standards that both shakes up traditions and pays homage to them.
The other secrets to the record's distinctiveness lie with Ronstadt's versatility and passion, her uncanny ability to inhabit every lyric with conviction and believability, and her graceful technique. As Stephen Holden stated in his rave review of the album for Rolling Stone in early 1975, No other pop singer so perfectly embodies the Western mythical girl/woman, heartbroken yet resilient and entirely feminine in the traditional sense. There is a throbbing edge to Ronstadt's honey-colored soprano that no other singer quite possesses - the edge between vulnerability and willfulness that I find totally, irresistibly sexy.
Ronstadt indeed proves seductive and inviting throughout, whether on the bluesy reading of Clint Ballad Jr.'s You're No Good, harmony-rich treatment of Hank Williams' I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You), folk-rock lilt of Lowell George's Willin', or soulful send-up of Phil Everly's When Will I Be Loved? Complete with piano, double bass, cello, viola, and fiddle, as well as support vocals from Muldaur, the cover of Anna McGarrigle's title track reinforces the one-of-a-kind expanse and all-for-one chemistry evident throughout the double-platinum effort - the kind of record they just don't make anymore.
This title is not eligible for discount.1. You're No Good
2. It Doesn't Matter Anymore
3. Faithless Love
4. The Dark End of the Street
5. Heart Like a Wheel
6. When Will I Be Loved
8. I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)
9. Keep Me from Blowing Away
10. You Can Close Your Eyes$34.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
No More Shall We PartNo More Shall We Part ends a four-year silence from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. A best-of was issued in 2000, but no new material has appeared since 1997's landmark album, The Boatman's Call. With that record Cave had finally delivered what everyone knew he was capable of: an entire album of deeply tragic and beautiful love songs without irony, sarcasm, or violent resolution. It appears that The Boatman's Call has altered the manner in which Cave writes songs, and the Bad Seeds illustrate them. Two musical directors -- the ubiquitous Mick Harvey and Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis -- craft a sonic atmosphere whose textures deepen and widen Cave's most profound and beautiful lyrics to date. The ballads have the wide, spacious, sobering ambience one has come to expect from the Bad Seeds. There is an ethereal change in sound in the up-tempo numbers, which are, for lack of better terminology, musical novellas. They plumb the depths of blues, yet contain glissando and crescendos from the orchestral music of composers such as Fartein Valen and Olivier Messiaen. There are places, such as in Oh My Lord, where rock & roll is evoked as a device, but this isn't rock music. A listen to As I Sat Sadly By Her Side, Hallelujah, and the aforementioned track (the most rock song here) will attest that it is merely one color on a musical palette that is more expansive now than at any time in the band's history. Also in the band's musical treasure trove is the addition of the McGarrigle sisters on backing vocals - nowhere is their contribution more poignant than on the tenderly daunting, haunted house that is Love Letter. Lyrically, and as a vocalist, Cave has undergone a startling, profound metamorphosis. Gone is the angry, humorous cynic whose venom and bile touched even his lighter moments. His deep taunting ambivalence about Jesus Christ and Christianity in general is gone, vanished into a maturity that ponders spiritual things contemplatively. Humor that pokes fun churchianity remains, but not as a source of its inspiration. Over these 12 tracks, Cave has taken the broken heart--so openly exhibited on The Boatman's Call--and elevated it to the place where he has learned to live with, and speak from it as both an artist and a human being. Leonard Cohen stated in the song Anthem, that, there is a crack in everything/that's where the light gets in.No More Shall We Part is a mosaic of those cracks. If this album is about anything, it is about love's ability to survive in the world. It is examined concretely and abstractly; to the point where it meditates on this theme even cinematically. His methodology for the listener is, even though these are intimate conversations, the effect is illustrated in widescreen. In this way, Cave touches the heart in the same way Andrei Tarkovsky's films Stalker and The Sacrifice and Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire do. There is powerful emotion here, spiritual, psychological and romantic, without a hint of the sentimentality that would make it false. As both a singer and a songwriter, his work has been transformed into something so full of depth, color, and dimension, that there is simply no one except his mentors working on this level in popular music. In the opening moments of As I Sat Sadly By Her Side, a tenderly, softly sung vocal delivers: Then she drew the curtains down/And said when will you ever learn/That what happens there beyond the glass/Is simply none of your concern/God has given you but one heart/You are not a home but the hearts of your brothers/God don't care for your benevolence anymore/But he cares for the lack of it in others/Nor does he care for you to sit at/Windows in judgement of the world he created/While sorrows pile up around you/Ugly, useless and over-inflated/At which she turned her head away/Great tears leapin' from her eyes/I could not wipe a smile from my face/As I sat sadly by her side. The title track is a ballad that could have been lifted from The Boatman's Call, except it lacks the reaching tragedy. And Cave sings in a tenor no one thought him capable of -- And all the birds will sing to your beautiful heart/Up on the bell/And no more shall we part. The chaos of earlier Bad Seeds outings does kick up on The Sorrowful Wife, where violins and Blixa Bargeld's guitars duel with Jim Sclavunos's drums for domination of the sonic torrent. The record closes with two of Cave's most beautiful songs, a near country gospel waltz called Gates to the Garden with the McGarrigles sweetening an already lovely tome to redemptive love. Finally, Darker With the Day, illustrated by Harvey's striking pianistic ballad framework touched by Bill Evans' technique, is as strikingly autobiographical as Cave has ever been, highlighting the extremes of good and evils that inform and torment the protagonist's inner emotional life within in a single day. There is loss and the seeking of deliverance and, in a statement not so much of recognition that this is simply fate, he also acknowledges hope: All these streets are frozen now/I come and go/Full of a longing for something I do not know. As he calls to a lover gone seemingly forever, he comes to the conclusion that for him, redemption is in love itself, whether divine or profane; the only hope is that love, between two people or between an individual and her or his creator, depends on one's openness to receiving it. Who can argue with him? No More Shall We Part leaves listeners in awe, full of complex emotions, and pondering the notion that they've been in the presence of great redemptive art--which Henry James calls, the thing that can never be repeated.
- Thom Jurek (All Music)1. As I Sat Sadly by Her Side
2. And No More Shall We Part
4. Love Letter
5. Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow
6. God Is in the House
7. Oh My Lord
8. Sweetheart Come
9. The Sorrowful Wife
10. We Came Along This Road
11. Gates to the Garden
12. Darker with the Day$22.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now