Meet Ms. Radigan (07/28/2000)
Terry Radigan, Radigan (Vanguard Recordings 2000) - Now celebrating their 50th year, Vanguard Recordings continues to find gems among the singers and songwriters. Radigan is not in Vanguard's traditional folk milieu, but walks solidly on the ground of 60s girl group power pop, with infectious results.
Radigan marks the debut release from this Nashville songwriter, and is a labor of love. Radigan plays piano, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and autoharp, and recorded the album in her attic studio on a hard-disc recorder. The album was co-produced by Kenny Greenberg (who has worked with Edwin McCain and Ashley Cleveland) and Justin Niebank (who has worked with Blues Traveler and the Iguanas).
Radigan grew up in Brooklyn, where she played in the late 80s in a band called "Grace Pool" as a replacement for Shawn Colvin. Radigan later relocated to Nashville, where she has written songs for such artists as Tricia Yearwood and Patti Loveless.
Tracks like "When I Get Around You" and "Blink" have an infectious pop sound, with a head-turning tremolo in the background on "When I Get Around You."
Says Radigan, "I started making my own recordings out of necessity, not out of any grand vision. Nobody was doing it for me, so I did it for myself. I really grew to love being left alone, singing by myself. I'd sing a song four times, then I'd take it to my guys."
Other musicians include Chad Cromwell on drums, Michael Rhodes on bass, Kenny Greenberg on electric guitar and drums, David Davidson on violin, Kris Wilkinson on viola, and Justin Niebank on programming and other sounds.
These home recording times gave her a chance to experiment. Explains Terry, "I'd do a part and give it a vibe sound. Then I would copy it, drop it an octave and hear what it sounded like. Or I might put a mallet sound to it, or a percussion part. I could get caught in that for hours."
Radigan has a friendly voice and a self-assured studio feel. Also included is a cover of "When It Comes to You" (by Mark Knopfler), and the playful concluding track, "Fifty Kisses," which has delicious layered vocals by Radigan.
Put it this way: if you like Sam Phillips, or girl pop with a John Lennon edge, then Radigan will turn your crank. Look for this winning debut.
Various artists, Reconstructing the Fables (Throwing Stones Records 1999) - Reconstructing the Fables, subtitled "A Tribute to the Music of R.E.M.," holds true to the spirit of the original songs, with 11 contributions from various independent artists. No corporate monies or politics went into the project, which was controlled entirely by the artists.
The album includes songs by Mark Hodges ("Exhuming McCarthy") and Howie Doyle ("Sweetness Follows"), two indie artists whom I like a lot, although their songs are not my favorites on this collection.
Instead, I lean toward the uptempo pop of Frocky Jack on "Radio Free Europe," and the subdued rock of Mark Mundy on "Suspicion." Another highlight is "Losing My Religion" by Suzanne Glass, who also stands behind the Throwing Stones record label.
Reconstructing the Fables is a unique project, as it was organized completely over the Internet through an email newsgroup. Everything was put together by the musicians, including artwork and layout. Ten of the performers on the CD have never even spoken! The project took more than ten months to complete and involved more than 1,200 emails of planning, arguing and compromise.
Like every compilation, Reconstructing the Fables has uneven moments; I could live without the experimental Hollywood rock treatment of "It's the End of the World (And I Feel Fine)" by Goz Inyama.
Still, it is always rewarding to support independent artists. Reconstructing the Fables collects acts from such locations as Athens, Georgia, Providence, Rhode Island, Columbus, Indiana, Houston, Texas, Iowa City, Iowa, and Millersburg, Ohio, all united by a common bond in the music of R.E.M. Look for Reconstructing the Fables.
For more information, contact:
Throwing Stones Records
Post Office Box 602
Colombus, IN 47202
Jimmie Spheeris, The Original Tap-Dancing Kid (Rain Records 1973/2000) - Musician Jimmie Spheeris lives on through the efforts of former band member Johnny Pierce, the CEO of Rain Records.
Jimmie Spheeris (1949-1984) released four albums for Columbia-Epic from 1971 to 1976, including his debut (Isle of You) and Ports of the Heart (1976).
The Original Tap-Dancing Kid is an anomaly in the catalog, as it was produced by Felix Cavaliere, originally with the Rascals. For this recording, Jimmie worked primarily with studio musicians, including Russ Kunkel on drums, Leland Sklar on bass, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel.
Spheeris had a ballady, introspective sound. He played in the 60s in New York City with such artists as Ritchie Havens before moving to Venice Beach in the 70s. Spheeris was killed on July 4, 1984, by a drunk driver, on the day that he finished the recording sessions for his final album (newly released as Spheeris).
Spheeris enjoyed a fan following in the Midwest, and opened numerous shows for the Moody Blues.
The best tracks on The Original Tap-Dancing Kid include the title track (which has elements of Harry Nillson), and "Sweet Wahini Mama," which brings to mind the production stylings of Toni Tenille.
Fans have been looking for these re-issues for years, and can thank Rain Records for their efforts.
For more information, contact:
Post Office Box 125
Arrington, TN 37014
- Randy Krbechek © 2000
Check CD Shakedown for Weekly
Reviews of Music CDs and New Albums