Time for Me to Start Mixing It Up
Mixed Bag Reviews
Since Roger Green’s blog kind of inspired me to get rolling with my own reviews of the Mixed Bag CD’s, I’ll let him have the honor of being the first.
The criteria I’m using to look at each Mixed Bag effort involves looking first at the bits and pieces of each CD, and then at the CD as a whole.
Bits and Pieces Questions
How much do I like each song? Why do I feel that way?
Is the song an old favorite or by an old favorite? Is it an unfamiliar work by an old favorite?
Is the song by an artist that’s new to me? If so, does it push me to check out more of their work?
CD as a Whole Questions
How well does the CD work for me as a unit?
Do I like the flow and the mix?
Is this something I’ll play a lot or something I’ll rip a few tracks from and then shelve?
With that in mind, I have to give Roger pretty high marks all the way around. His theme, Travelogue USA #1: New York-Texas, binds the songs together into a listenable unit, without restricting his choices of music styles. On paper, moving from the old timey sound of Fiddlin’ J Carson to Bruce Springsteen to Alison Kraus to Tom Petty doing a rockabilly tune doesn’t seem like it would really work, but it comes off very well. Given that the last 60% or so of the travelogue sweeps through the South and into the Southwest, various strains of country are well represented here, but that leaves plenty of room for a few rock songs, and even some blues from Taj Mahal, plus a jazzy bit from the Mississippi Sheiks. As a unit, this is a great collection and one that I’ll be listening to quite a bit.
In terms of individual songs, only a handful of artists here were new to me, with a lot of old favorites. The opening song—Robbie Robertson’s American Roulette—and the closer—Garth Brooks’ American Honky-Tonk Bar Association were well chosen and bookend the set well. In between is a great batch of artists that I already like—Ryan Adams (with one of his better tunes, New York, New York), The Band, Peter Case, The Boss, Alison K, and Lyle Lovett. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Billy Joel are kind of guilty pleasures of mine, so I can’t help giving bonus points for any collection that includes Down at the Twist and Shout.
Of the stuff I didn’t already know, I like what’s here, but am not really moved to seek out anything else by those artists at this point. But for a mix that I'm enjoying this much, that's really minor.
All in all, it’s a great CD which I am going to enjoy listening to in the future. I hope if there’s ever another Mixed Bag challenge, that we’ll get another section of this travelogue.