The New Master (03/05/99)
Various Artists, Lucky 13 (Oh Boy Records 1998) - Oh Boy Records is the record label co-founded in 1984 by John Prine. Now celebrating its 15th year, Lucky 13 is a look back at the artists who have called Oh Boy Records their home.
Thus, the album opens with three previously-unreleased songs by John Prine, including a live version of "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian" and an acoustic cover of "Kokomo." Next up is Keith Sykes, who features an uptempo Nashville pop sound on two tracks, including "I Was Right About You."
Which leads into the heart of the disk. The now-disbanded Bis-quits deliver two servings of their edgy country alternative sound, including the terrific rocker, "Betty Was Black (& Willie was White)," followed by Heather Eatman, who shows that her song, "Miss Liberty," deserved air play on pop radio. With shades of Paula Cole, Eatman also delivers a fine live version of "Half a Woman."
The album concludes with two servings each from Nashville rocker, R. B. Morris, and balladeer Donnie Fritts (with Willie Nelson sharing lead vocals on one song).
Lucky 13 is a fine sample from a label that deserves your support. Look for this collection in the stores, or call Oh Boy Records at 800-521-2112.
Sons of the San Joaquin, Horses, Cattle and Coyotes (Shanachie 1999) - Fresno favorites, Sons of the San Joaquin, continue down their traditional path with Horses, Cattle and Coyotes. With songs focusing on cowboys and the American West, the new album builds on the harmony vocals of Jack, Lon, and Joe Hannah.
The Hannahs have been performing as a trio since 1989, and have toured both the country and the world, with television appearances on "Austin City Limits" and "Nashville Now." The Hannahs also founded their own festival, "Fandango de San Joaquin," an annual multi-cultural celebration that takes place in Clovis, California each May.
The Sons show their fondness for Mexican culture by including two Spanish ballads, "Border Affair" and "Land of Enchantment." Also included is the "Trilogy for Roy," a melody of "Red River Valley," "Shenandoah," and "Home on the Range," dedicated to Roy Rogers, the trio's friend and mentor. [Local radio celebrity Ray Appleton also makes a guest appearance on harmonica.]
Jack Hannah, the Western Music Association's 1998 "Songwriter of the Year," contributes ten new songs to this effort, including the upbeat "Trail Drive," a song based on one young cowpuncher's diary and embellished by Jack Hannah's own experience.
Explains Jack Hannah, "Horses, Cattle and Coyotes elaborates upon the life we would lead if we could 'live' our dream. These songs are born out of a love for the cowboy, his history, his work and play. They are written out of respect for these individuals who are sworn to loyalty, integrity and hard work, and who are always square shooters with their peers."
While Hannah's view of the West may be romanticized, his efforts to carry on the Western music tradition are heartfelt. Give Horses, Cattle and Coyotes a try.
Prince and the Revolution, 1999 - The New Master (NPG Records 1999) - Back with a fresh take on his millennium anthem "1999" is The Artist. The new recording is an extended CD single featuring seven recreations of this well-known song, and shows how far the artist has come from his Minneapolis roots.
1999 - The New Master finds The Artist working with the members of his New Power Generation family, including funkster Larry Graham, songstress Rosie Gaines, and rapper Doug E. Fresh. Listen for the "New Master" version, the "Inevitable Mix," the soulful "Keep Steppin,'" and the partying "Rosie Doug E. In a Deep House" mix. In addition, actress Rosario Dawson delivers a spoken word version.
1999 - The New Master has a more funky and soulful sound than the original pop classic, and should be heard a lot this year. Fans of The Artist will want this EP.
- Randy Krbechek © 1999
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