Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hank Williams
The Unreleased Recordings

Time Life
3 CD Box Set
54 songs

This is the holy grail for Hank Williams fans, an official release of recordings from the Mother's Best Flour Company radio show in 1951. Apparently, this CD collection is the first installment in a series over the next three years, with 54 of the total 143 songs presented here.

Legend has it that these recordings were originally saved from a trash bin by a WSM radio station employee, only to remain officially unreleased because of ongoing legal issues for the past 50 years. Poor quality bootlegs have popped up over the years, but this is the first time that properly mastered tracks have been presented to the public. One of the criticisms I've seen about this set is that it edits down the original shows and features only the songs, not the chatter and commercials in between. My answer to that would be that presenting the entire shows would be quite an undertaking that would be priced out of the average music buyer's range. This condensed packaging is sure to bring this wonderful lost music to more people in the long run.

The sound quality is suprisingly good, on par with studio recordings from this era. Hank and his band play the hits, along with many songs that were never recorded for the label --- this fact makes this collection even more worthwhile. The live setting also makes the music more personable, removed from the confines of the a recording studio.

Fans of Hank Williams and classic country have been given a treasure that is timeless and priceless, and thankfully just in time for the holidays.

MISH MASH Mandate: Trash To Treasure
Hank Williams - Time Life Website

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hilde Marie Kjersem
A Killer For That Ache

Rune Grammofon
11 song CD

Perhaps the best way to describe this one is fascinatingly unpredictable. The flowing, rustic strums of the autoharp ring in the lead off track, Sleepyhead.. Her quiet and gentle vocals ease in gracefully yet poignantly on this song, reminiscent of classic American country & western --- although she is, in fact, Norwegian. Kjersem continues this theme in the traditional sounds of Mary Full Of Grace, where her voice stands starkly amidst the barest of instrumentation.

Yet, on the next song, Fantasy, we are taken in an altogether different direction, a psychedelic pop rock song that twists and turns with dynamic abandon. From there we move into the melodrama of Marie Antoinette, where marching drums mingle with a dramatic cry of "Off with her head!" The title track is acapella, featuring a choir of voices that drift underneath Kjersem's singing. Midwest Country has a more definitive and deliberate western feel, while London Bridge incorporates industrial sound effects as the rhythm section, and Working Girl revolves around a lonely and hollow banjo.

The closest comparison I could probably make here is with Daniel Lanois, as Kjersem takes a similar post-traditionalist approach with plenty of pop experimentation. There's a timeless quality about her songwriting, yet she has a modern edge that gives it a 21st Century feel. It's the perfect mix of past and present, with a nod to the future.

MISH MASH Mandate: Norwegian Wood
Hilde Marie Kjersem Website

Friday, November 14, 2008

Almighty Low

18 song CD

It's all about the atmosphere. Pre brings his instrumental beats with a subtle intensity, choosing to creep along with laid-back grooves instead of getting in your face with aggressive speed or volume. Simplicity is the key, with uncluttered rhythms and sounds intermingling without trying to do too much. The music is allowed to breathe, giving the listener time to digest and decipher each sound and rhythm at an easy pace. It's like acid jazz filtered through hip hop.

At the same time, none of the songs have time to wear out their welcome, as Pre keeps them fairly short and sweet. Before you know it, you've grooved your way through a dozen and a half tracks without even realizing it.

MISH MASH Mandate: Alrighty Almighty
Pre Website