Country Music People May 2019 - Page 45

RANDY ROGERS BAND Hellbent  Drinking Money / I’ll Never Get Over You / Anchors Away / Comal Country / Hell Bent On A Heartache / You. Me And a Bottle / We Never Made It To Mexico / Crazy People / Fire In The Hole / Wine In A Coffee Cup / Good One Coming On Producer: Dave Cobb Tommy Jackson Records 35:47 Several influential American reviewers declared Randy Rogers’ last album Nothing Shines Like Neon to be his best to date. There’s been a buzz, an anticipation of greatness even, about this artist for the best part of a decade and I would suggest this latest release goes some way to explaining why that anticipation may not yet have been fully realised for some. BOB LIVINGSTON Up The Flatland Stairs  Shell Game / A Few Things Right / Public Domain / That’s The Way Things Go / The Usual Thing / Can’t Get Enough Of It / Didn’t Want To Change / Cowgirl’s Lullaby / A Month Of Somedays / It Just Might Be Your Lovin’ / Intermission / The Early Days / You Got My Goat / We Should Have Stayed / Caution To The Wind / Don’t It Make Sense / Nervous Breakdown Producers: Bob Livingston & Don Richmond Howlin’ Dog Records 56:14 Billboard magazine in reviewing this one declare that Rogers has “re-invented” Guy Clark’s Hell Bent On A Heartache; and yes this treatment has arguably brought the song up to date, made it sound more modern and perhaps more appealing to a younger audience but in doing so they have totally cast aside the delicious poignancy and pathos which made the original work so well for Clark himself. But then I guess many of Rogers’ fans won’t have a clue who Guy Clark was, certainly wouldn’t like the original, and “re-invented” makes it sound innovative – and innovative seems to be the current requirement. I really liked the gentle waltz sway of We Never Made It To Mexico and quite enjoyed I’ll Never Get Over You despite it making me want to describe it as OCMS with a Fender section. I also warmed to the cowboy swing feel of Fire In The Hole, but my favourite track was Wine In A Coffee Cup which in giving a modern spin to the well worked country music theme of alcohol dependency has resulted in a simple but very effective song – surely what real country music has always been about. Good One Coming On is an absolute cert for radio play and with any luck it will hustle its way onto the playlists of our newer “national” country radio stations and provide a bit of an edge to the blandness they seem to prefer. As a reviewer it is very tempting to jump on the bandwagon for an artist like Randy Rogers but whilst I have liked quite a lot of what he does for a number of years he has yet, for me anyway, to release an album that will take him up that important one more level. The man has talent but he falls between traditional country and stadium anthem hopeful; I regret to say I don’t think Hellbent is about to be the album which takes him out of that loop. Chris Smith It’s 1977 and I am loving my Jerry Jeff Walker albums on which the great man is accompanied by the Lost Gonzo Band, who also make their own albums. Life is good as their songs are wry, whimsical and honest, describing their gypsy lifestyle, sleeping on floors, hard partying and driving for miles across the Texas plains to the next dance hall. It’s been a long time since we last heard them but here comes an album from one of the lost Lost Gonzos, guitarist, pianist and vocalist, Bob Livingston. This new album is mostly written by Livingston but you could easily mistake the songs for Jerry Jeff’s. They have that nonchalant, conversational style in which he excels. Like Jerry Jeff, this is someone who knows he is too old to change and sort of regrets it but doesn’t really. That semi-apologising style is in Can’t Get Enough Of It which praises their mentor, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. In particular, That’s The Way Things Go, sung with Eliza Gilkyson, is very much like a Jerry Jeff song, and indeed the opening song on this album is from 1969’s Driftin’ Way Of Life. There’s plenty of humour on the album and I was chuckling at “You got my goat, you might as well take my dog. He’s a good old hound, he writes my daily blog”. I realise that you may find this feeble and it depends on whether you are into these guys or not. I know Bob Livingston is writing a memoir for the Texas Tech university press and this CD could be the format for a stage show as I could imagine passages from his book being read in between live performances of these songs. Spencer Leigh MAY 2019 - cmp 45