Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mixed Bag Reviews: Chris and Kelly

I See Dead People by Chris “Lefty” Brown

I haven’t gotten to listen to Lefty’s other disc (Rockin’ Like Dokken) yet, because I can’t get past this one!

First off, he has to be applauded for his choice of deceased artists to include on the disc. For the most part, he avoided the “obvious” choices—no Elvis, No Hank Williams, no Jim Morrison, no Kurt Cobain. I think this made for a much more well-rounded disc, with a variety of musical genres represented.

The few times he did stray into “obvious choice” territory, he balanced it by using slightly less obvious song choices. For John Lennon, it’s Mother rather than Imagine. For Janis Joplin, it’s Summertime, instead of Me and Bobby McGee. Neither song is totally off the beaten path, to be sure, but they show a little more thought than just grabbing the usual songs by the usual suspects, which is what really makes this disc work. He really fleshed out (so to speak) his concept well.

There’s no way I’m not going to love a disc with this much good blues on it, especially when there are also cuts by the much underappreciated Gram Parsons, Bill Monroe, and Johnny Cash on it! And if Cash singing We’ll Meet Again isn’t an inspired, off-beat choice, I’ll eat my hat. Lefty also gets high marks for included a couple of the more recently demised—Buck Owens and Ali Farka Toure.

There is absolutely not a bad song choice on this disc. I love it from beginning to end, in fact, may be the best of this batch. Yay, Chris!

Kelly Brown: Man vs. Woman

There are some sequences of songs that are just magical. The individual tunes and the way they flow into each other and play off each other is just mesmerizing and one has to repeat the entire sequence over and over again because the listening experience is so wonderful.

On Kelly’s CD, the five song set from Son House’s John the Revelator to the A-Sides’ Jump Back Jack is one of those sequences for me. It’s so magical and so captivating that the CD would be worth playing even if the rest of the CD were nothing but ambient sounds of cows mooing in the pasture! Fortunately, that’s not the case, as the rest of the CD has several other great moments: Ookla the Mok (must get something from him!), Chagall Guevara, the incomparable Etta James and Government Mule are all stand-out selections. In all honesty, I don’t care much for the rap or reggae tunes, but that’s just me. I’m just not into those genres, and nothing on this CD really changes my mind.

All in all, though, it’s a strong mix, with that one song sequence—starting with the rough-hewn country blues of Son House into the folksy-pop of Bob Weir’s Cassidy followed by Johnny Cash on Daddy Sang Bass, one of my favorite gospel tunes, then the joyous celebration of Ben Folds’ Kate and ending with the groovy, polished pop-rock of the A-Sides—raising the whole CD up to a disc I’ll being playing over and over. Take a bow, Kelly!


Lefty said...

Wow! Thanks for the kind words. I did feel real good about the Dead People Mix. The other mix was not as good, and has it's moments...just not enough of them. I can't wait for you and yours to hear the Eddie Mitchell Mix. It is without a doubt one of my better ones.

And yes, my wife's mix was pretty darn good. Probably her best one yet. I must be rubbing off on that just sounds so wrong.

EM said...

Any time, Chris.