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Swampbird´s Choice

Essential Albums part 2: Kevn Kinney - MacDougal Blues (1990)

21:11, 4/4/2013 .. 0 comments .. Link

I first heard this album by Kevn Kinney when I was in this record shop where I would often go in the early 90’s. The album was called ‘MacDougal Blues’ and the first song that I heard was ‘Not Affraid To Die’. That voice and the very nice acoustic instrumentation took my attention and I bought the album right away. Maybe that was the first album that really brought me into folk music and singer/songwriters. Ofcourse, I already knew Bob Dylan and I had heard of Joni Mitchel too, but with this album, there was a new musical world for me to explore.


But for all of you who aren’t aware of who Kevn Kinney is, here’s a small introduction to the man. Kevn Kinney was born as Kevin Kinney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1985 he moved to Atlanta, Georgia to form the band Drivin N Cryin with bassist Tim Nielsen. They were a part of the Atlanta underground rock scene and got a few nationwide hits in the US. Unfortunately, they didn’t became a big band like other southern rockacts as R.E.M. or the Black Crowes.

I guess the biggest problem was that the band couldn’t choose wich way to go: being a Led Zeppelin-style rockband, or play folk/pop songs.


In 1990 Kevn Kinney made his choice and recorded 10 folk songs that he wrote and who weren’t suitable for Drivin N Cryin. He recorded these songs with R.E.M. guitarist and dear friend Peter Buck as producer in the John Keane Studio’s in Athens, Georgia. Beside Kinney and Buck, the other members of Drivin N Cryin also played on the album, just like a couple of session musicians. It turned out to be a briljant step for Kinney and the album is known as a great traditional folk/blues record nowadays. At that time, the succes of the album was also the end of Drivin N Cryin.


When you listen to the titeltrack of the album, Kinney sings: ‘I come from Omaha to New York City, To sing my songs to be a real folk singer humdinger, I tried to change the world with songs of love and hate and desperation, can’t wait to get myself known there and find my home’…

And that’s exactly what the album is all about: the struggle of a troubadour who tries to make it in the music scene of Greenwich Village, the well known area in New York City where in the 1960’s artists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith would play the coffeehouses.


Listen to the album and you are in Greenwich Village, on the corner of a dark alley and you see those musicians walking by to play in a coffeehouse, try to make end meet and make their dream come true to become the next big artist and get to be famous as Dylan.


Unfortunately, the album is long out of print, but you can try to get a copy on e-bay. Or maybe you can get your hands on one in a second-hand cd-shop. It’s well worth the try…



Swampbird's Top 15 Albums of 2012

21:00, 6/12/2012 .. 0 comments .. Link

Swampbird’s Top 15 Albums Of 2012


Every year I make a list which includes my favourite albums from the past year and this is the first time I put it on the internet. My list is a melting pot of different genres and artists, but they have one thing in common: they made me smile this year…


01) Walter Trout – Blues For The Modern Daze

02) Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

03) Brandi Carlile – Bear Creek

04) KISS – Monster

05) D. Scott & T. O’Brien – We’re usually a lot better than this

06) John Fullbright – From The Ground Up

07) Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Wreck and Ruin

08) The Pines – Dark So Cold

09) The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

  10) Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last Of A Dyin’ Breed

11) Chris Smither – Hundred Dollar Valentine

12) Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension!

13) John Hiatt – Mystic Pinball

14) Passenger – All The Little Lights

15) Otis Gibbs – Harder Than A Hammered Hell



This year's # 1: Walter Trout - Blues For The Modern Daze

My favourite albums of all time part 4: Richie Sambora – Stranger In This Town (1991)

13:11, 29/11/2012 .. 0 comments .. Link

To make things clear at once: This is the best album Richie Sambora ever made. Period. I know he did a lot of great things with Bon Jovi, but this album represents the true Richie Sambora. Behind the commercial semi-rock songs writer, there’s a true blues-man. Everything on this album is perfect: The in blues soaked songs, Sambora’s singing, his guitar playing, the lyrics and the overall sound of the album.

In the CD booklet Richie writes to the listener: ‘Turn down the lights, light a candle… welcome…’ . And that’s exactly what you have to do.


From the first song ‘Rest In Peace’ to the last notes of ‘The Answer’, Sambora takes you by the hand and shows you what he really is: a true blues-man.

When I first played this album back in 1991, I thought I would be listening to a Bon Jovi album, sang by Sambora, but when I heard the first notes, I knew that I was wrong. I instantly fell in love with this album and every time I listen to it, It amazes me how wonderful and brilliant this album is. More than 20 years later, it still gives me goose bumps. It’s very hard to tell you what my favourite tracks on the album are, ‘cause there are so many of them. But tracks that stands out more than the others are ‘One Light Burning’, ‘Father Time’ and ‘The Answer’.


This album is the perfect winter-evening album. When it’s cold outside and you’re sitting on the couch with the one you love enjoying a good bottle of wine, this is the album to play…

My favourite albums of all time part 3: Walter Trout Band – Life In The Jungle (1990)

20:40, 7/11/2012 .. 0 comments .. Link

The first time I heard of  Walter Trout was in 1992 when I sat in the back of the car, returning from guitar lessons. We listened to the radio where they broadcasted some live recordings from the Pinkpop festival from that same year. What I heard was so special that when I got home, I went straight to my room and taped the rest of the broadcast and listened to that tape over and over again for the next weeks. I didn’t new who Walter Trout was, but his guitar playing, his voice and his songs touched me deeply and he became instantly one of my favourite musicians ever.


When I got my hands on his debut album called ‘Life In The Jungle’  I was even more hooked on this guy than I already was. The album features a nice combination of studio tracks and live recordings.

The studio tracks on ‘Life In The Jungle’ were recorded and mixed between June 21st and juli 9th 1989 at the Electra Studios in Stockholm, Sweden. The live recordings were recorded on july 2nd at the 1989 Midtfyn Festival in Denmark


Besides Walter Trout on guitar, vocals and harmonica, the band featured Walters’ long-time friend Jimmy Trapp on bass, Hammond player Daniel ‘Mongo’ Abrams and Leroy Larson on drums.


The story behind this album is a classic. Before forming his own band, Trout was playin’ in John Mayalls band The Bluesbreakers and one night on tour in Danmark John Mayall became sick and couldn’t perform. The people who organised the concert asked if Walter and co-guitarist Coco Montoya could get on stage with the rest of the band to perform without John Mayall. They did and the gig was a huge success and when Trout got off the stage, this man from a small record company in Danmark walks up on him and gave him the opportunity to record his own album. Another man, who was a concert promoter, heard what they were discussing and said that if Trout would make an album, he would book him a tour through Scandinavia! Trout took 2 weeks to think it over and on his 38 birthday, he told John Mayall that he would leave the band to form his own band. John Mayall gave him his blessings and they are good friends untill this day.


I like good guitar playin’ , I like blues, I like rock n’ roll and I like good song writing. And that’s what you’ll get while listening to Walter Trout. Plus there is the energy in his live shows.

Three of the songs on this album are still in the live-set of a Walter Trout concert: ‘Life In The Jungle’, ‘Red House’ and ‘Serve Me Right To Suffer’.


It’s no wonder that a few years later, Trout would end on place number 6 in the BBC rank of best guitarists of all time, leaving guitarist like Brian May, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, Dave Gilmore and Eddy van Halen behind.

Just listen to the live recording of  Jimmi Hendrix’ ‘Red House’ and you know why…

My favourite albums of all time part 2: Guns N’ Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)

19:08, 19/9/2012 .. 0 comments .. Link

I was 15 years old when I first heard this debut album by Guns N’ Roses and it stuck with me ever since. The album is a perfect combination of hard rock, punk and blues music.


I remember wearing a Levi’s denim jacked to high school with this big patch on the back featuring the cross with the band members sculls. Nobody at my high school knew who these band was and I told them that they would know in a few months. And I was right. A couple of months later, Guns N’ Roses were everywhere and became the biggest Rock n’ Roll band in the world…


I listened to ‘Appetite’ all the time and it became the soundtrack of my youth. But what makes this album so special? I guess what the Rolling Stones were when they became known, the same thing happened to Guns N’ Roses: Their music was loud, nasty and the band members looked like a bunch of vagabonds. But the music was honest and free of anything you heard on the radio at the time. What you heard on the radio and saw on MTV was mostly 80’s synth pop. For me, that was the thing that turned me on to this band. This album was what I needed at the time. Like singer Axl Rose once said: ‘We are a shot in the arm for Rock n’ Roll!’.

But not only the band members and the music got a lot of controversy, the original cover art got too. The original cover art was a painting by Robert Williams with the title ‘Appetite For Destruction’. It featured a robotic rapist about to be punished by a metal avenger.

Many record stores refused to sell the album and the record company changed the cover art to the cross with the sculls after one of singer Axl Rose’s tattoos designed by Billy White Jr.

In an interview Axl Rose stated that the original idea for the cover was a picture of the exploding Space Shuttle Challenger, used on the cover of Time Magazine in 1986, but the record company refused to put it on the album’s cover.


The original vinyl version of the album didn’t had a A and a B side, but a G (Guns) and R (Roses) side. On the G side you’ll find songs about drugs and life in the big city. Side R features songs about relationships, love and sex.


When you hear the first notes and the screaming at the beginning of the first track ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ you know that it’s gonna be a dangerous ride on a  Rock N’ Roll rollercoaster.

Just go to youtube and look for the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards performance of this song and you know what I’m talking about. The power and energy will blow you away!


Another huge hit was ‘Paradise City’. This was the 4th single from the album and the 3rd song that hit the top 10 position in the US. Half of the video for this song was shot on Saturday the 20th of august 1988 at the Donnington Monsters Of Rock Festival in England. It’s sad to mention that 2 fans of the band were crushed to dead in the mud during Guns’ set. It’s something that would hunt the band forever. The other part of the video was shot at the old Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, the same stadium where I saw 3 Bruce Springsteen concerts in a row 20 years later during his ‘Magic’ tour.


But the biggest hit song from the album is the power ballad  Sweet Child O’ Mine’. The characteristic guitar riff of this song is one of the greatest riffs of all time and the guitar solo is from another world.


To me the best song of the album is the last one, ‘Rocked Queen’. The song was an unfinished song written by Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler from their earlier band Road Crew.

Rose told in an interview that the song lyrics are about this girl the band knew who wanted to start a band called ‘Rocked Queen’.  In the middle part of the song Axl wanted to put in some  pornographic noises so he brought in this girl and they had sex in the studio. They recorded about 30 minutes and used some parts in the song.


‘Appetite’ topped the American Billboard 200 chart. As of September 2008, the album has been certified 18 times Platinum by the RIAA, accumulating worldwide sales in excess of 30 million. The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.


Do I need to say more?

Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball hits todays world in the balls

20:52, 21/3/2012 .. 0 comments .. Link

When Bruce Springsteen releases a new album, the whole world is eager to hear the new stuff. And on this release Bruce is angry. From the first song 'We Take Care Of Our Own' to the final song 'We Are Alive', he tells stories about people in today's world. People who has lost their jobs ('Jack Of All Trades'), their houses ('Death To My Hometown') and who are not happy with the American climate and todays financial crisis ('We Take Care Of Of Our Own', 'Easy Money', 'This Depression', 'Shackeled And Drawn').

Springsteen's manager Jon Landau recalls: 'Bruce has dug down as deep as he can to come up with this vision of modern life' and I must say that he did a great job. The lyrics are strong as always, but with the music, he took another turn on the turnpike. On this album, you'll hear some modern technology like drumcomputers, loops and samples, but fact is that the real Springsteen-sound is still there.

One of the only two members from the E. Street Band that's on the album is drummer Max Weinberg. He plays the drums on two tracks and the second one is the late and great Clarence Clemons who plays the wonderful saxophone-solo on 'Land Of Hope And Dreams'., wich is one of the highlights of the album. Other musicans Springsteen has worked with on this release, accordeonist Charlie Giordano, violist Soozie Tyrell and banjoplayer greg Leisz, are from the Seeger Sessions Band and their contribution is a big one. Together with new producer Ron Aniello, Springsteen has managed to create an recognizable and modern album that puts the finger on the tender spot. Springsteen spreads the message and there's nobody who can deliver it better than the boss himself...


My favourite albums of all time part 1: Rod Stewart - Foot Loose & Fancy Free (1977)

13:41, 20/3/2012 .. 0 comments .. Link

In life, there are a few albums that stick with you from the first time that you hear them. For me, Rod Stewart's 'Foot Loose & Fancy Free' album is one of those albums. I don't know exactly why, but to me this is Stewart's best album. It's a typical 70's album, but even now, the songs are as strong as they were back then.

Released in November 1977, Rod Stewart's eight album begins with the hit on the drums from Carmine Appice, followed bij a great guitar-riff that gets the album started with the mega rocker 'Hot Legs'.  But if you think that rock 'n' roll is all you get on this album, you're very wrong. The following song on the album, entitled 'You're Insane' is a funky one with a huge groove. ' You're In My Heart' is a very nice sing-along ballad and with 'Born Loose', the rock 'n' roll is back with huge drums and great harmonicawork from the Godfather of Brittish Blues, John Mayall. The next two songs are superb cover versions of 'You Keep Me Hangin' On', originaly performed by the Supremes and, in my opinion the best song on the album, ('If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right', written by Stax Records songwriters Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson. ' You Got A Nerve' is a nice dramatic love-ballad and 'I Was Only Joking' is the perfect final song for a perfect album. This last song reached #4 on the Billboard U.S. singles charts.

Until this day, Rod plays 'You're In My Heart'  in concert and he kicks soccerballs into the crowd during this song. Many people say that the song is about soccer, while others say that it's about women and his then girlfriend Britt Ekland in particular.

The album reached #2 at the Billboard Music Album Charts (U.S.).



Essential Albums part 1: Townes van Zandt - Live At The Old Quarter, Houston Texas

13:34, 14/3/2012 .. 0 comments .. Link

When you're talking about Singer/Songwriters, you can't escape from Townes van Zandt's double livealbum 'Live at the Old Quarter, Houston Texas'. This first released in 1977 album is a real musthave and features a series of recordings made back in july of 1973 at the Old Quarter in Houston, Texas. This venue was a pretty small one with no more than 100 seats. It's Townes with his guitar that you get and 23 of his finest songs like Pancho & Lefty, If I Needed You, To Live Is To Fly, For The Sake Of The Song, No Place To Fall, Tower Song, Waiting Around To Die,  Tecumseh Valley and Lungs.

But what makes this album essential? I quess because Townes singing and guitar playing is superb on these recordings and he gives you the feeling that you're one of the people in the crowd when he cracks jokes between songs and tells the stories behind the songs.

It comes to no surprise that Townes van Zandt is still a big influence on many artists like, for instance, Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle.

Earl once said of Townes that "He's the best songwriter in the world and I would stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboyboots and tell him that". Townes responded by saying "I've met Bob Dylan's boddyguards, and if Steve Earl thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table, he's sadly mistaken".

Although, the man died on new years day 1997, his music lives on...

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Recent Entries

Essential Albums part 2: Kevn Kinney - MacDougal Blues (1990)
Swampbird's Top 15 Albums of 2012
My favourite albums of all time part 4: Richie Sambora – Stranger In This Town (1991)
My favourite albums of all time part 3: Walter Trout Band – Life In The Jungle (1990)
My favourite albums of all time part 2: Guns N’ Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)


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