Here’s hoping things have been calm around your house these days. Things have been a trifle quiet around the Juke Joint lately. That flu epidemic that’s running wild through the country has come to our quiet little hamlet, and even the people who are well are staying home for fear of catching it.
Makes for some lonely nights. I’ve been closing up early and trying to listen to some CDs that have been on the back burner. I’m glad I found a few of these (some will remain buried, but we don’t need to discuss those right now) and one in particular got a hold of me right quick.
COLIN LINDEN STILL LIVE was a nice package I received from Yellow DogRecords and this is a real gem of a record. Linden is one of those guys with an amazing resume who just manages to stay under the radar of the mainstream. He’s a real artist and has worked with performers like Emmylou Harris and Robert Plant. He’s toured with Bruce Cockburn, and played on some of the instrumentals for O Brother Where Art Thou.
He’s even been a producer or co-producer on about 100 different albums.
And he sings like a cultured demon.
In other words, check this guy out and you won’t be disappointed.
This album was recorded at the Douglas Corner Café in Nashville and features Linden on guitars and vocal, John Dymond on bass and harmony, Gary Craig on drums and occasionally The Great Spooner Oldham on organ.
Live albums can be tricky, just getting the sound right can be a major headache, but this album is crisp, clean, and a real pleasure to listen to. It’s not strictly blues, but it’s damn good.
He kicks the album off with Big Mouth, a cool song with a tricky riff pulling you into his world. The lyrics let you know quickly that he’s a lyricist with a fresh outlook and this is going to be an interesting ride.
Next up is Howlin’ Wolf’s Who’s Been Talking, the only song on the album Linden didn’t write. He manages to capture the old school rhythms but doesn’t try to imitate Wolf. Listen for Oldham’s organ work as well as Linden’s guitar.
Between The Darkness And The Light Of Day starts of gently but with an insistent beat. His lyrics are poetic this is a very sweet song. It has a Jackson Browne Van Morrison feel to it and yet is somehow all Linden.
Next up is Smoke ‘Em All, a tribute to his longtime friend Richard Bell who was also his piano player. It’s a very personal song that will move you. At least it moved me. The song is deliberately stripped down, like it should have been played by Linden and Bell, and you can feel Bell’s presence in the silences.
Sugar Mine starts out with a desolate old west flavor and moves into some evocative imagery. It’s a different kind of song, and one that I enjoyed deeply. Oldham’s organ notes give the song an otherworldly feel.
Linden picks up the tempo for Remedy, the story of how a woman holds the power to heal a broken man. Of course she also has the power to destroy him as well. Such is the paradox. Linden and company mix their rock with a little gospel to fashion a pretty cool side. He follows up with a dark fifties influenced number, John Lennon In New Orleans, in which he imagines a lost weekend with the legend.
Linden goes with an up tempo side next, From The Water. This is an crowd pleaser and I would love to see the song performed live. The energy is nice and you can feel him connecting with the audience.
Next up is the song I consider to be my favorite on the album, Dark Night Of The Soul. Every one of us wants somebody to be with us when things get tough. Linden’s voice is perfect for this song and you can feel his passion throughout.
He drives the next song, Too Late To Holler, the story of a man looking back on his life as he steps onto that golden chariot to leave this life. It’s a fun philosophical look – after all, it’s too late to holler at this point. He slows things down nicely into the ballad, Sinking Down Slow.
He brings the album to a close with I Give Up, the story we’ve all felt when we just can’t take another minute of this. We’ve all got our own this – you know yours. Well, this is when you just have to throw your hands up and say, I give up…
Colin Linden is a great addition to the juke box. If you’re in the Tennessee area, keep your eyes peeled for a live appearance, and the rest of us will have to check out his website for information about tours and forthcoming records.
(Picture not so artfully taken from the Yellow Dog Records website. If you’re the copyright holder and want us to remove it, please contact us and we will comply. Of course we may just stomp our feet and hold our breath, but you won’t care. That’s just like you…)