Binion, Leavin' This Town (Daemon Records 1997)
- Leavin' This Town is a labor of love from 38-year-old
Terri Binion, who lives in Orlando, Florida (where she works for Disney
in the Creative Costume Department). Originally released on Terri's own
indie label, Shinola Records, the album has a warm feeling
that is reminiscent of artists like Nancy Griffith and
Terri has been making music for years, yet Leavin' This Town
is her first CD. The album was co-produced by Liberty DeVitto
(drummer for twenty-one years with Billy Joel), and includes
friends Tommy Malone and John Magnie
(both of the now-disbanded Subdudes) and pedal steel
guitarist Wally Murphy (who has recorded with Willie
Nelson and Waylon Jennings).
This cast of supporting characters sets the stage for Leavin'
This Town. Thus, "Abilene" is an uptempo country charmer, while
the title track brings to mind the sweet vocal stylings of Alison
Krauss. Another fun cut is "One More Number," which has a jaunty
roots flavor, complete with backing accordion.
Levin' This Town is a labor of love and deserves support
(particularly the charming "Abilene"). Further, Daemon Records is the
rarest of labels: A non-for-profit enterprise in which all the money goes
back to the artists in the form of royalties or to sign new acts. Buying
from Daemon is good for you.
Leavin' This Town is the kind of album that takes a
couple of listenings to sink it. But once you connect with its blend of
roots, folk and pop, you'll have a new friend.
of Jimmie Rodgers: A Tribute (Egyptian/Columbia 1997) - Though
his recording career only spanned six years (from 1927 until his death
in 1933), Jimmie Rodgers (also known as the "Singing Brakeman" and "America's
Blue Yodeler") cast a huge shadow. Taking what was then called "hillbilly
music" and making it accessible to the general public, Rodgers created
an influential new style that merged folk and blues in a precursor to
today's popular country music.
On Songs of Jimmie Rodgers (the inaugural release on
Bob Dylan's "Egyptian Records"), fourteen contemporary
artists have gathered to pay homage to this milestone artist. The results
are uneven: for example, Van Morrison ("Mule Skinner
Blues"), Bono ("Dreaming with Tears in My Eyes"), and
John Mellencamp ("Gambling Bar Room Blues") don't connect.
But the country stars shine with an old timey feel. Thus, Alison
Krauss delivers a sweet version of "Any Old Time," and Iris
DeMent provides a riveting, "Hobo Bill's Last Ride." Other solid
cuts include Willie Nelson ("Peach Pickin' Time Down
in Georgia"), Mary Chapin-Carpenter ("Somewhere Down
Below the Mason-Dixon Line"), and the fitting conclusion, "T for Texas"
by Dwight Yoakam.
Released to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of his birth, Songs
of Jimmie Rodgers is an understated collection that lets the
songs take center stage. (Rodgers died of tuberculosis at age 36 in New
York City.) The album is a worthy attempt, though probably not the best
place to begin seeking an appreciation of Jimmie Rodgers.
Cummings, Up Close and Alone (Hip-O 1997) - Winnipeg's favorite
son, Burton Cummings (former lead singer for the Guess Who),
still makes a living on the concert circuit. Up Close and Alone
captures an unplugged performance (just Cummings and his piano) before
an appreciative hometown crowd.
Cummings has a pleasing voice, and a refreshing wit. The hits are here,
including "Laughing," "Clap for the Wolfman," and "Share the Land." (For
younger readers, those are peace-and-love rockers from the early 70's.)
The acoustic reading of "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" (co-written
with Randy Bachman, who later founded Bachman-Turner
Overdrive) loses something: the rocking studio cut is a better
One of the highlights of the album is "Gordon Lightfoot Does Maggie
May," in which Cummings does a hilarious sendup (and more than passable
imitation) of fellow Canadian Gordon Lightfoot singing
the Rod Stewart hit.
-- Randy Krbechek
Copyright (c) Randy Krbechek
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