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The Royal Hounds - A Whole Lot Of Nothin' (2021)

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The Royal Hounds make it easy on bloggers who want to discuss their new album. Here is what the trio says about their fifth studio record, A Whole Lot of Nothin' , on its accompanying press release: "A nd By Nothin’ We Mean Fiery Honky Tonk With A Rock And Roll Edge Served With A Healthy Sense Of Humor."  In addition, veteran, Laurel Canyon bass player Leland Sklar calls them  “The Spinal Tap of downtown Nashville.”  Both of those quotes are so perfect that I could end this review right here, but that would be cheating, right? For those of you unfamiliar with this group The Royal Hounds are Scott Hinds on bass and vocals, Matheus Canteri on guitar and background vocals, and Nathan Place handles drums, percussion, and organ. Canteri also served as producer of the thirteen song set. Recorded in Nashville, the sessions were engineered by John McBride (husband of Martina) and Jeremy Cottrell who worked with both Jim Lauderdale and Raul Malo. Hinds wrote most of the album dur

Almost Hits: Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World (1967 & 1988)

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Louis Armstrong was a jazz giant who also made a lot of pop records that were marginally considered jazz, and one of his more famous songs, "What A Wonderful World," falls into the latter category. It's also a record with an interesting backstory. This classic was first released in 1967. It failed to chart in America because the president of  ABC Records, Larry Newton, hated it and refused to promote it. In fact, he even tried to stop the recording session, but - believe it or not - he was locked out of the studio enabling Armstrong to finish his work. Newton wanted a tune similar to Armstrong's huge hit, "Hello Dolly," that went to #1 just three years earlier. Instead, the star produced this slow, string laden ballad with his typically rough but pleasing vocals that everyone recognizes today. The lengthy session also had other distractions. The musicians were interrupted twice more by freight train whistles that forced them to work overtime. So, to insure

Last Albums: John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness (2018)

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The Tree of Forgiveness was   John Prine's last studio album, recorded two years before his unfortunate passing in April of 2020. This brief, thirty-three minute, ten song set was released after a hiatus of thirteen years that proved the well-loved folk musician didn't lose any of his songwriting skills during the long layoff. The late singer-songwriter easily impressed listeners for five decades with his tales about lonely people who were down on their luck. "Hello In There" and "Sam Stone" -  both from his eponymous debut album  that was released when he was only twenty-five years old - made him sound much older and wiser than his age would lead you to believe.  Not all of Prine's music was dark.  Many of his songs thrived on a great sense of humor that gave listeners a chuckle, and it's this trait that helps make Forgiveness a truly fulfilling listening experience. "When I Get To Heaven" is a hysterical take on things Prine intended to

Los Lobos - Native Sons (2021)

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Los Lobos's Chicano based rock never has been, and almost certainly never will be appreciated by the masses, and that's OK. They've made themselves a viable force in rock music, consistently making excellent records loved by critics and a large, devoted cult of which I am a member. They're a great success.  The Los Angeles quintet is still in business with the same five man lineup they've rolled out since How Will The Wolf Survive  became their breakthrough album almost forty years ago. The brand new  Native Sons is the group's fourth set of covers. Previously, they gave us a seven song EP,  Ride This ; the children's record,  Los Lobos Goes Disney ; and if you want to count movie soundtracks you can add  La Bamba to the list. I've written here before that artists often release cover albums when they've lost their muse but this new record is not one of those times. These veterans have never been afraid to issue cover albums interspersed with releas

Willie Nelson - Live At Billy Bob's Texas (2004)

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On Live at Billy Bob's Texas , Willie Nelson is so laid back one may believe he is playing a concert from his bed. Even the late Perry Como - who was the ultimate, laidback crooner - offered more excitement than Nelson and his band exhibited during this concert. Both he and the band sound exhausted. We all know that Nelson is no showman in concert. No one has ever expected him to be a dynamic Springsteen-style performer, but he was always able to deliver the goods. Yet, all through this live show the legend sounds as if he's barely awake. Too many times Nelson lazily "speak sings" his lyrics. This is especially noticeable on more familiar material such as "All of Me," "Blue Skies" and an absolutely awful take of "On the Road Again." Throughout the entire 20 song performance - that thankfully clocks in at less than an hour - his guitar playing sounds as unmelodic as his singing. The bonus live DVD that comes with the CD doesn't add

Harry Nilsson - All Time Greatest Hits (1989)

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I must confess that I've never listened to the late  Harry Nilsson  very often outside of his long string of hit singles. After all, who has the time to listen to every album ever recorded except for maybe  Stephen Thomas Erlewine of  AllMusic . I never owned any of Nilsson's albums until I paid $2.00 last week for All Time Greatest Hits at a local country fair. Before that, I only ever bought one of his 45s - his first big hit, "Everybody's Talkin'" way back in 1967. The few Nilsson albums I've sampled pieces of were quite inconsistent, so for casual fans this twenty song collection is definitely the way to go. All of his huge hits are included on this set along with a few minor ones.  What is most noticeable about Nilsson is his eclecticism. While he does not sound like The Beatles their influence is obvious. Listening to the pop-rocker reminds me of the group's  White Album,  because just like the Fabs, Nilsson was not contented to work within a de

Almost Hits: Dolly Parton - Jolene (1973)

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Dolly Parton's "Jolene" went all the way to the #1 spot on both the Canadian and American country charts, but on Billboard's US Hot 100 it only climbed to #60. Despite that, it is Parton's most covered song.  In a 2018 interview the country queen revealed she wrote both "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You" on the same day. I'd call that a very good day. Both songs appear on the album pictured here. The song's interesting backstory is revealed in its first verse. " Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,  I'm begging of you please don't take my man.  Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,  Please don't take him just because you can." Parton and her new husband, Carl Dean, were in a bank when a gorgeous, red-headed teller flirted with him. This upset the soon-to-be legend so she wrote a song about the incident. Its  lyrics never address whether or not Jolene really intended to steal Dean from her. T he record's name and the ha

Buried Treasure: Seamus Kelleher - September Skies (2006 & 2007)

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Due to all of the bad news of the last two years the sad events of September 11, 2001 may have receded deep into the recesses of a lot of people's minds. But, on this twentieth anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters, and the heroics of the passengers on United 93, I believe it's time to discuss one of the saddest songs you'll ever hear. Seamus Kelleher  was known around the Philadelphia area as an excellent rock guitarist when he was a member of the now disbanded, locally popular, Celtic-rock quintet, Blackthorn. He left the band in 2011 to pursue his own muse and released two solo albums, both of them favorably reviewed here . Kelleher is quite eclectic. He's versatile on both acoustic and electric guitars. Not only can he play the the hard driving blues-rock of Rory Gallagher, he also covers slide guitarist Elmore James. On his second album, Another Side of Town , he gets mellow and topical with " Streets of London ," a folk song by