So, all of these other posts (and the theme change) were distractions in order to give me more time to get caught up on the other stuff I bought in Toronto on our most recent trip there (a couple weeks ago). I appreciate your patience! Now I’m moving on to the stuff I found at She Said Boom! on College St. So awesome. Let’s give ‘er!
Ani DiFranco and Utah Phillips – Fellow Workers
More Ani DiFranco! Are you shocked? You shouldn’t be!
Three years after their (excellent) collaborative album called The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere, here comes Utah and Ani with Fellow Workers. And guess what? Yeah that’s right, it’s super-awesome. You probably knew I was gonna say that.
Utah ranting away is always a brilliant proposition, he was a ranconteur par excellence (may he RIP). We’d all be lucky to hear more of him on a regular basis. Ani providing the backing music is the very same awesome, though she seems to let herself and the Mensabilly band (haha awesome name) stay in the background a bit more and let Utah shine. Good call (and I love Ani). We get Mother Jones (The Most Dangerous Woman!), Joe Hill, Herb Edwards, and Stupid while we get history lessons of things we likely didn’t learn in school. There are instrumental bits, tribal beats, old time revival tunes, Utah talking and singing, and a whole lot more. Even right down to the liner notes were written by Howard Zinn (The People’s History of the United States) and they’re great too.
This is an excellent package all around. I whole-heartedly recommend this record (and the one before it too). If you see it in the shops, buy with confidence!
The Band – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
I got this CD for $5 brand new, and have enjoyed it several times already. This trip through was no different. I was surprised, then, that it’s really just a re-editing of the Rock Of Ages set (which I don’t own = oversiiiiight!). If this is true, this disc is just a cash-grab by the label. At least, that’s what the internets told me, and we all trust everything the internets has to say! But do I care, really? Nope (or at least not until I get RoA!). The music here is great (I loved the trumpets in the title track!), and the song selection and sound quality is excellent. Perfectly fine for my $5.
Barstool Prophets – Crank
Here’s a blast from the mid-90s. I was surprised to find this one still in my collection, honestly. I know for sure I would have kept it for Little Death (Oh Mary Mary), such a cool song, but the rest of this CD turned out to be quite tight, highly enjoyable rock music. It has very big sound, and the songs are very well-done. This was a great find, I really enjoyed hearing it again. I played this one a lot, in the mid-90s, so it’s rediscovering an old friend, for me now!
Ani Difranco & Utah Phillips – The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere*
Can I even begin to express how cool this CD is? And lucky thing, too, because this sort of thing could equally have gone into suckage territory – pairing music with old tapes of an old man speaking? Dicey! But this is Ani we’re talking about, and she has yet do anything even mediocre. And Phillips seems the right mix of ornery and intelligent to be a remarkable storyteller. Even the looping of his voice is OK, as it drives points home. So many great quotes here, like “…the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked!’ There’s plenty here that’s heartfelt, poignant and, yes, wrenching too, as you get pulled effortlessly along. The music is fanastic (of course). The whole thing is a clear-eyed and brilliant master stroke. I can’t recommend this enough.
* Purchased during the 2014 trip to Toronto with Mike. There’s a second volume to this collaboration, called Fellow Workers. I do not own it currently, but listening back to this one again made me want it!