Monday, April 10, 2006

wasted days and wasted nights

Ellen Fanning nearly wasted my night by managing to take an opportunity to talk to the Stones for 30 minutes and with Channel 9 turn it into an hour of ads plus a few truncated live clips plus nonsense from Ellen. What on earth is that woman on about. Bert Newton would have done a better job of interviewing. Stupid questions about their age and nudge nudge wink wink smirks about sex. Then a bit about drugs. Nothing about the music. No context. No comment that in comparing some live footage on a few songs Jagger's voice seems to have improved over the years. Still not up to his admitted hopes of a Howlin' Wolf sound but fuller and more authoritative nonetheless. Pity his lyric writing is still stuck in the teenager stage.

Luckily I had my new DVD of
The Mavericks LIVE in Austin TX @ Stubbs BBQ. It is good to see my favourite beer when in USA Dos Equis are only $3.75 at Stubbs. The DVD arrived 10 months after I had ordered it, so long ago I had forgotten all about it. I could have got the bloody thing direct from Amazon delivered to my doorstep in about 7 days for less than half the price it cost me to wait 10 months then have to drive to the shop and wait 20 minutes while they tried to find it. When will retailers learn who they have as competition.

Anyway after I gave the Stones special away as a bad joke I started sampling the DVD. The band is augmented by horns and extra other musos on this concert. They are in great form and deliver the goods.
Raul Malo is a chunky sublime singer who manages to sound like all his influences at the right times and to also sound uniquely Raul. He channels the best of Elvis, Roy Orbison, Merle Haggard and a bit of Hank as well as Frank and even croon like Humperdink. And do it all well to a driving country, tex-mex, rockin' ska showband. Or something like that. He also writes great songs and even does Besame Mucho on this concert.

The Extras bit on the DVD is a long "interview" with the 4 core band members, it focuses on the music and is better by a factor of about 100 than the Channel 9 attempt with the Stones. A nice touch in the extra at one stage they break into Van Morrison's Bright Side of the Road in a practice session.

In The Mavericks' arrangements, and they are arrangements, and especially in Raul's voice you can also hear, Bob Wills, Louis Jordan, Patsy Cline, Ray Charles and Buddy Holly, Bing Crosby, Ray Price, BB King, Roger Miller and George Jones, The Beatles, Burt Bacharach, Gram Parsons, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Steve Earle.

Trampoline is a landmark album that should be in every serious collection. I'll take a few paras off the web page below:

From the opening salsa swing of Dance The Night Away, the rip roaring rhythm and blues of Tell Me Why, the pop blizzard of I've Got This Feeling, right through to the funky sounds of the exotic/erotic I Hope You Want Me Too and the dance hall jazz of the 20's inspired Dolores. The Mavericks do all this without forsaking any of the fabulous melodies or sparkling musical touches of past efforts. In fact, due to the method of recording the album; the band, singers and orchestra all playing together in one enormous renovated church; they have captured the spirit of The Mavericks in the most powerful and vibrant cool-lection of songs recorded to-date. This is the album which spawned 'The Havana Horns', who would accompany The Mavericks on the road and in additional new recordings, through to 2000.

This vibrancy was well and truly pounced upon by the European audiences throughout 1998 and 1999, especially in the UK, where Dance The Night Away managed to reach No 4 on the 'pop' charts. (It also achieved the status of most played 'live' song of 1999 by the UK Performing Rights Society.) During 1998 the album sold unexpectedly well in Europe, exceeding 850,000 by the end of that year. However, their homeland only showed comparatively scant regard for this joyous triumph; with mainstream radio (both country and pop) unable to cope with this outburst of originality, and promptly threw up the shutters. Consequently, Trampoline in the USA suffered minimal sales.

I just love Raul and the band. Get on the train.

Further info:
Raul runs a
well written blog or journal. It is worth reading his most recent entry about his relationship with Buck Owens.
Introduction to the band The Mavericks.
Info about Raul.
New CDs coming out
Review of CDs by BBC
THE MAVERICKS , The Definitive Collection , (MCA Nashville), US release date: 28 June 2004