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Tasty Leftovers (11/26/99) Write to CD Shakedown
Rough HarvestJohn Mellencamp, Rough Harvest (Mercury 1999) - Mercury must miss John Mellencamp (who has since moved on to record for Columbia). Because Rough Harvest covers material previously released by Mellencamp on such fine albums as Mr. Happy Go Lucky (1996) and Human Wheels (1993), but with a more folk/countrified feel.

Rough Harvest was recorded by Mellencamp and his band in 1997 during a layover between tours and recording projects. The band included Andy York and Mike Wanchic on guitars, Dane Clark on drums, Moe Z. on keyboards, Janas Hoyt on backing vocals, Toby Jeffrey Myers on bass, and Miriam Sturm on violin.

John and Miriam SturmRough Harvest reads like bootleg Mellencamp, as it contains the reworked versions of such tracks as "Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)," "Jackie Brown," and "Rain on the Scarecrow." All show Mellencamp with his country roots exposed, backed by the plaintive fiddle of Miriam Sturm.

The highlights include two solid live songs: a 1986 recording of "Under the Boardwalk" (an early 60s for the Drifters), and a terrific version of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" (recorded in 1994), with Me'Shell NdegeOcello on harmony vocals.

John MellencampAlso included are versions of two Bob Dylan songs ("Farewell Angelina" and "In My Time of Dying," a blues traditional recorded by Dylan on his 1962 debut).

The trade stamps on the inside of the album tell it all: "Completed," "Order No. 15," and "Paid in Full." John Mellencamp enjoyed a long run with Mercury Records, and Rough Harvest is a fine finale.

Best of YazYaz, Best Of (Reprise/Mute 1999) - The synth-pop duo Yazoo (known as Yaz in the U.S.) survived for only two tumultuous years. Yet their recorded output continues to strike true more than ten years later.

Yaz consisted of musician Vince Clarke, formerly of Depeche Mode (who scored with such hit singles as "Just Can't Get Enough") and singer Allison Moyet, a husky-voiced singer cut from the mold of Annie Lennox.

Allison Moyet and Vince ClarkeThe duo's first album, Upstairs at Eric's (1982), rode up the charts with such club singles as "Only You" and "Don't Go." With Moyet's deep, lustrous voice layered over a synth and techno-blues background, the output was mesmerizing.

By the time Yaz released their second LP, You and Me Both, the duo's relationship had become increasingly tense, and the pair split in July 1983. Vince went on to work with Andy Bell on the successful partnership of Erasure, while Alison forged ahead with a solo career, including the albums Alf and Rain Dancing.

Best Of Yaz also includes such deliciously techno-and-sex songs as "Goodbye 70s" and "Don't Go." Also included is the original U.S. 12-inch mix of "Situation" by Francois Kevorkian, together with three 1999 remixes by Todd Terry, Club 69, and Richard Stannard.

A terrific look back at a powerhouse pairing, Best Of Yaz will dust off your club-hopping memories.

Leftover SalmonLeftover Salmon, The Nashville Sessions (Hollywood Records 1999) - Hailing from Colorado are Leftover Salmon, a skilled group of bluegrass musicians. Melding bluegrass with country hands and extended jams developed on the road, Nashville Sessions mixes Americana with country, Cajun, and southern rock and boogie.

Leftover Salmon have been playing together since 1990, and include Drew Emmitt on vocals and mandolin, Vince Herman on vocals and acoustic guitar, Tye North on bass, Mark Vann on banjo and 5-string dobro, and Jeff Sipe on percussion. The group's albums include their 1992 debut, Bridges to Bert, and a 1995 live release, Ask the Fish.

Tye NorthNashville Sessions was recorded in producer Randy Scruggs' studio, and features a host of experienced session hands, including Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, John Cowan and Sally Van Meter.

Well-met friends from the band's extensive road exploits are represented by Todd Park Mohr from Big Head Todd, Blues Traveler's John Popper, and Widespread Panic's John Bell.

Vince HermanOther guests include Lucinda Williams on the gorgeous "Lines Around Your Eyes," folk/blues maven Taj Mahal's on "Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes," and the up-tempo Cajun flavor of "Dance on Your Head," with banjo player Bela Fleck.

Expect the unexpected, and that's exactly what you'll find on Nashville Sessions. Not easy to describe, but easy on the ears. Leftover Salmon marches to their own beat.

Forget About ItAlison Krauss, Forget About It (Rounder 1999) - Performer Alison Krauss remains one of the crown jewels at Rounder Records. With eight records to her credit, Alison has been courted by every major label, yet remains with her first home. The new Forget About It marks a departure, as Alison focuses more on her vocals.

Alison Krauss While her
Union Station Band (Barry Bales on bass, Ron Block on acoustic guitar, Jerry Douglas on dobro, and Dan Tyminski on acoustic guitar and mandolin) remains the core lineup, Alison added such players as pianist Matt Rollings, guitarist Pat Bergeson, mandolinist Sam Bush, and drummer Jim Keltner.

Simply stated, I can't get into this album.
Alison is an enormously-talented vocalist and fiddle player (though her violin is all but invisible on the new album).

Play that Fiddle, Woman!Yet
Forget About It is built around a weak and dreamy delivery on songs like "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" (written by Todd Rundgren) and "It Doesn't Matter Now" (written by Michael McDonald).

Alison has a gorgeous voice, as featured on her 1995 double platinum album, Now That I've Found You. But Forget About It wallows in its excesses. Alison should pick up her fiddle and put a little more fire back in her playing.

- Randy Krbechek © 1999

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