|Mary Lee's Corvette, Blood on the Tracks (Bar None
Records 2002) - Blood on the Tracks is an audacious recording by Mary Lee's Corvette. Recorded live
in one pass on a Sunday night in New York City, singer-songwriter Mary Lee Kortes hits all the right notes on this
Step back a bit. New York night club Arlene's Grocery holds "classic
album nights," when local performers perform complete albums. One night, the club had lined up performances
of After the Gold Rush (Neil Young) and an album by
The Band. A request came for Bob
Dylan's 1975 classic, Blood on the Tracks.
Soon, Mary Lee was recruited. Said the singer
to herself, "These questions immediately presented themselves. "How do you sing a Bob
Dylan song in a way that anyone should ever bother listening to? How do you sing it right without imitating
him? How do you make it your own? And of course, why should you? After thinking about it, there was only one reasonable
Then Mary Lee said to herself, "How often do you get an invitation
like this? I have an amazing band. What the hell." The liner notes continue. "Before we started the show,
I handed Ian Bryant, the sound man, my cassette and asked him to make a board tape for us. And then we went to
Thus, the recording was never intended for commercial release. But as tapes of the show made their way
through the NYC music scene, the positive responses allowed for wider release of this live show.
You have to play Blood on the Tracks from beginning to end. Start with "Tangled up in Blue,"
move into "Simple Twist of Fate," then rest easy on "Meet Me in the Morning." By the time you
get to "Shelter From the Storm" and "Buckets of Rain" at the end, you will have been moved.
I was in tears with the album cranked up on my car stereo. Everyone who has listened to this CD has raved about
Comments Mary Lee, "There's no way to adequately
talk about the experience of that night. Suffice it to say, it was indeed a religious one. Like most religions,
it had its own silliness. I asked the audience if anyone wanted to come up and sing a couple verus of 'Lily, Rosemary,
and the Jack of Hearts.' And of course someone did, for better or worse. I ran into the 'guest vocalist' a couple
months later and he told me that someone from the law firm where he worked was also there that night and he almost
got fired for 'embarrassing the firm.' You be the judge."
May Lee's band includes Brad Albetta on bass, Rob Hohl on acoustic guitar, Andy
York on electric and acoustic guitars, Andy Burton on piano or organ, and Diego
Voglino on drums.
Recalls Mary Lee, "It was a rainy New York Sunday night. The night was running severely behind
schedule. It was 11:30 and we were suppose to have gone on at 10:00. Would anyone really stay around this late
on a rainy Sunday? Who did I think I was singing these songs? How the hell did I get here?"
Oh baby, did Mary Lee hit a home run. Blood on the Tracks is one of the best albums I've heard in the
last couple of years. You can't listen to it in bits and pieces. This is Bob
Dylan's break up album, and has to be absorbed in its entirety. Mary Lee's harmonica playing is kind of hokey,
and I probably would have faded it down. Yet the whole is an organic statement.
Of course, the temptation is to compare the album to Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, written
as a retort to the Rolling Stone's Exile on Main Street. Yet Exile in Guyville is a piece in
time as the Chicago Catholic Liz Phair set out to speak her
own mind. (And I say this as a huge fan of Exile in Guyville.) Blood on the Tracks is timeless,
a classic set of songs that run the gambit of break-up emotions. These are very different albums, that evoke very
different emotional responses.
Do not miss this religious experience with Mary Lee Kortes.
Charango (Reprise 2002) - Morcheeba is a three-piece outfit
that makes British soundscape music, with elements of techno and South American influences. With the languid vocals
of Skye, Charango has a lounge feel on tracks such as "Undress Me Now."
The other core members are Ross Godfrey on guitars and other instruments, and beathead and lyricist
Paul Godfrey. Rounding out the sound are R&B bass player Pino Palladino and
Curt Wagner of Nashville's country soul Lambchop, who assisted with "What
New York Couples Fight About."
hip hop artist Slick Rick (recently released from jail for shooting his cousin) wrote and delivered
the digestible "Women Lose Weight," and Pace Won contributes vocals to "Get Along."
Morcheeba works in the Hooverphonic vein, with
more beats and uptempo layers. Explains Paul, "Everything is played live...We've worked, really hard, and
done exactly what we have believed in. We haven't had the usual distractions of having to worry about money, or
about whether the business is being taken care of."
has three prior releases under its belt (Who Can You Trust, Big Calm, and Fragments of Freedom),
which have collectively sold more than three million copies worldwide. Adds Ross Godfrey, "We've used the
place we come from - that English beats tradition - and reached out to as many things as possible to make this
"Women Lose Weight" is Slick Rick's tale of murdering his wife for getting too fat. Says Paul, "He's
taking the piss out of his own shallowness."
You get a big, cinematic feel on "Public Displays
of Affection," which is complete with harp, violins, and a bassoon, while "Way Beyond" includes
flugel horns to create a sound that Rick describes as "sweet but fucked up, and it sounds druggy, but we haven't
actually been doing a lot of drugs. We just like that slightly detached sound."
that keeps drawing me back is "Aqualung," which has nothing to do with Jethro
Tull, but which includes a delicious guitar lick that sounds like it came straight from ZZ
Concludes Paul, "We wanted this to be our weird, psychedelic, out-there album, but we have such a strong pop
sensibility, that we knew that you would be able to sing along to you."
Pay a visit to Charango for a swinging British
lounge sound (complete with the instrumental, "The Great London Traffic Warden Massacre).
- Randy Krbechek © 2003
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