| My Northern Friday 2 |

Let Me Roll – Roving Crows (Awaken)
Sunflower – Beau Jennings and the Tigers (Heavy Light)
The Blackest Crow – Kevin Buckley (Big Spring)
Mags 21st – Corner House (Single)
Moon Far Away – Justin Golden (Hard Times and a Woman)
Me and My Chauffeur Blues – Memphis Minnie (Complete Recorded Works Vol 5)
Split Part Two – Groundhogs (Split)
Heroes and Villains – Beach Boys (Single)
City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie (Hobo’s Lullaby)
Sweeney’s Wheel – Kevin Buckley (Big Spring)
Spring Song – Seonaid Aitken Ensemble (Chasing Sakura)
Days Can Last Forever – Michael Lane (Single)
Full Moon Friend – John Calvin Abney (Single)
Would the Minister Not Dance – Face the West (Single)

Featured Album | Kevin Buckley – Big Spring | Avonmore Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | 08.04.22

Ordinarily, we would probably expect the tunes on this album to have sprung from the deep musical wells of County Clare, yet Kevin Buckley is a St Louis native, albeit steeped in the roots of places some four thousand miles away.  After two fine opening instrumental pieces though, “Sweeney’s Wheel” and “Ryder’s Block”, Buckley leans on influences closer to home, with the old time sensibilities of “The Blackest Crow” and later, “Never Tire of the Road”, each undoubtedly with Tim O’Brien not too far from his mind.  Possibly the most engaging of the songs is “Miss Bailey”, a noted song from the repertoire of The Kingston Trio, given a sort of Welch/Rawlings treatment.  Throughout the songs and tunes, there’s a certain ‘swing’ to be detected, especially on the bouncy “Marcelle et Marcel” and “City of Savannah”, together with classical elements, notably on “La Rubia”, which can only add to the folk fusion aspect of the album and which keeps it all interesting to listen to.  Kevin Buckley’s talents are extended to that of producer, arranger and singer songwriter, with his fiddle not far away at any time, though despite having released a handful of indie albums under the guise of Grace Basement, this is the first time that instrument has taken centre stage, making the most of his early training in traditional Irish music especially for his debut solo release.

Flick the Dust Off | Groundhogs – Split | Liberty LBG83401 | 1971

In 1970, as I prepared to embark on my predictably troubled teenage years, my record collection was still very much in its infancy.  I was already showing dissatisfaction with the music that infiltrated the pop charts, being not in the least bit concerned about where love actually grows, despite Edison Lighthouse’s eagerness to tell me.  If a record by Lee Marvin could get to the number one spot, there was no further hope as far as I was concerned, a notion exacerbated further by Clint Eastwood talking to the trees on the other side.  The rock world beckoned and with a little help from my older sister, more specifically, the hippie boyfriends she brought home, my ears began to let in the good stuff.  I first heard the sound of the three-piece blues outfit Groundhogs at the Monday Prog Rock night at the Top Rank in Doncaster, where the confused DJs would always manage to slip in the odd blues number.  “Split – Part 2” was one of the mainstays of the playlist during these nights and it wasn’t long before the record joined my collection.  I’m sure neither guitarist Tony McPhee, bassist Peter Cruikshank or drummer Ken Pustelnik considered themselves anything other than a blues band, nevertheless, their music seemed to fit in well at the Rank every Monday night.  According to McPhee, the lyrics for this album were inspired by a panic attack he experienced back in 1970.  The album also features probably the band’s best known track “Cherry Red”.

Singled Out | The Beach Boys – Heroes and Villains | Capitol Records CL 15510 | 1967

During the early part of the 1960s, The Beach Boys cornered the market when it came to recording Chuck Berry-styled rock and roll songs with a surfing theme and would become one of the world’s finest vocal bands, with their inimitable sibling harmonies.  As the decade progressed though, the band, led by the workaholic Brian Wilson, sought to rival The Beatles with their attention to detail and pursuit of discovering new sounds and styles using the studio as their main tool.  “Good Vibrations” opened up the doors for adventure with a song that was not only adventurous but also completely accessible in the current pop market.  These experiments continued with the help of Van Dyke Parks on the follow up single “Heroes and Villains”, which was intended to appear on the band’s next album Smile.  Although the album was put on indefinite hold, the song was released as a single and then appeared on the band’s next album Smiley Smile instead.  I spent many hours trying to work out Brian Wilson’s genius vocal arrangements on this hugely experimental single.  I’m still none the wiser.

Fifty Years Ago | Arlo Guthrie – Hobo’s Lullaby | Reprise MS2060 | April 1972

Completely accessible country-inflected fourth album courtesy of Arlo Guthrie.  Only a couple of years earlier, a stoned Guthrie got up on a dodgy looking stage in Bethel, upstate New York, to tell the audience that everything was ‘far out’ and that he had been rapping to the fuzz and that New York Thruway was closed (man).  Woody Guthrie’s hippy son was always a charismatic counter culture figure, largely due to his starring role in Arthur Penn’s screen adaptation of Guthrie’s engaging Alice’s Restaurant story, despite his almost unintelligible rapport with the masses at the most iconic of all festivals.  For Hobo’s Lullaby, Guthrie surrounds himself with the cream of session men, including Byron Berline, Ry Cooder, Doug Dillard, Richie Hayward, Jim Keltner, Spooner Oldham and Clarence White among them, together with Linda Ronstadt adding further vocals.  Predominantly covers, the songs include material from the pens of Bob Dylan “When My Ship Comes In”, Hoyt Axton’s “Somebody Turned the Light On”, Guthrie Snr’s “1913 Massacre” and most notably Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans”, Guthrie’s only hit record, presumably due to Goodman’s radio friendly feel good lyric ‘Good morning, America, how are ya?  Strange to think this is now fifty years old.

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