Vinyl Vlog 261

Vinyl Vlog 261

Monday, 18 September 2017

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the Mid-Century Sounds – Deep Cuts From The Desert 2LP compilation.

It might not be the first location which comes to mind when one thinks of “music hot spots” (and there is some irony in saying that – believe me), but those in the know are well aware of just how rich and the artistic soil is in the state of Arizona. Arizona was, of course, the birthplace of such grand musical names as the Meat Puppets, Alice Cooper Group, Waylon Jennings, Stevie Nicks, Calexico, Howe Gelb, Linda Ronstadt and Duane Eddy – to name only some of the largest artists which sprang from The Copper State; there have been many, many other artists developing a multitude of other sounds too, and such is what Mid-Century Sounds‘ look at the state seeks to illustrate. This 2LP set stays largely away from glutting its running with the big and obvious names for the most part (although there is a cut included from Waylon Jennings’ catalogue) and chooses instead to include a wide array of other artists who appeared between 1957 and 1973 to make its point. On paper, such a plan might seem dicey at best but, in fact and in listening, the set betrays a pretty impressive cross section of musical artistry which does gel into its own unique scene when the sonic ties that bind the artists together begin to reveal themselves.

While it isn’t exactly the first or easiest thing for listeners to hear, there’s no question that there is a dry, arid quality about each and every one of the songs on Deep Cuts From The Desert which is very alluring because it is so completely unlike what listeners expect, at first. The album’s A-side opens with the slightly countrified pop of Ralph Smith w/ Bob Taylor’s Western Aces (the single “Never With Your Heart” was a modest success for the band) and really sets a standard for what listeners will hear through the running of the set, in a way. Here (whether it was intentional or not), there is a bit of an airy and arid loneliness sunk into the song which will have listeners warmed to what they’re hearing before long – if only because the song ends up coming off as a lost and forgotten would-be hit as a result. It is a great little song and, after it plays through, more than a few listeners will be flat-out shocked when they realize that (somehow) they’ve likely never heard it before.

Similar sensations to those listeners experienced thanks to “Never With Your Heart” (heartache, fantastic natural reverb, rich but eerie, dry tones both vocal and instrumental) reoccur as listeners make their way through the songs and sides of Deep Cuts From The Desert too. At every turn, listeners may discover a completely different sound emanating from songs like “I’m Glad I Knew You” by P-Nut Butter (Byrds-y guitar pop), “Too Good To Be True” by Lou Rogers & The Soul Blenders (as the band’s name says – it’s Soul), “What’s Happening” by Phil and The Frantics (shimmering lovesick balladry) and “Ain’t No Time For Stoppin’” by Fat City (horn-y disco R n’ B), but the tie which binds them all together is a sort of surreal and etherial quality. It might sound unbelievable to readers who have yet to experience the music on these two LPs, but it’s true. Not only that but, the deeper that one treads into the set, the more eerie the ties that bind become.

By the time Michael Liggins & The Supersouls’ “Loaded Back” closes the D-side of Deep Cuts from the Desert, listeners who have run front-to-back with this album may find themselves sitting in their favorite chair, utterly befuddled by the scope and range of the music they’ve just heard. The reason for that is fairly self-evident; while there’s no question that the album is solid enough, that there are just so many directions that the twenty-nine songs included reach into yet they still manage to hold together as a single, sonically focused unit is just unbelievable. How it’s possible that the songs are able to do that might seem impossible to answer at first but, eventually, those who have experienced this set will come to one understanding: there’s something in the state of Arizona which shapes and moulds its population, something unique which guides them and unites them. That aspect of the state’s persona is a thing that every resident shares regardless of what kind of music they like, and it bleeds into that art. In that manner, there’s a bit of a “Children Of The Corn” quality to Deep Cuts From The Desert, but it’s still fascinating to observe. [Bill Adams]


Mid-Century Sounds – Deep Cuts From The Desert is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.




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