Category Archives: FOLK / FOLK ROCK

The Best of-SIMON & GARFUNKEL-1999

This is the first, and I swear on everything I hold dear, that this will be the last compilation album that will ever see the light of day on TDSR. I am putting this on TDSR more because of the sentimental value it holds and its significance in my life, more than anything else; this is a personal review blog dammit, not a goddamn factory like AMG etc, therefore the rules can be bended from time to time. When I started listening to rock music I virtually lived off these compilation albums, and the first one that I bought was this. Simon and Garfunkel were this singer–songwriter duo from the States, and they mainly had their boom period during the rocking’n’rolling 60’s. I am sure you know them, if not you have been living under a rock. The songs are folky-pop heaven, as good as any you will ever hear in your life, as good as any made by the Beatles, Who, Floyd, Stones etc. You betcher!

They were not consistent or as prolific as those bands, nor did they experiment with different forms of rock music, sticking to folk influenced melodies and harmonies, in the 60’s pop style. Their albums are patchy in a couple of places, but darn it, when they wrote and sang, they wrote and sang like nobody’s business. In my mind, I measure the greatness of the band by the greatest songs it ever wrote, not by consistency or versatility, and therefore, according to me, Simon and Garfunkel stand as the epitome of great pop rock music. I know that is a controversial statement, but how else am I gonna draw flak? And we need to build our readership. HAHA!! On a serious note, though, I mean every word I say, so there.

Apart from the harmonies and the vocals which are dripping with goodness, we have the poetry. Damn. Each of the songs on this compilation can evoke a memory to me, they are like pieces of life. For example “Feelin Groovy”. Oh and that one, “Homeward Bound”. I sing that every time, on the day that I come back home from college. And “Bridge over Troubled Waters”!! What about that song, what? Absolutely dandy, man.

And the greatest of them all, “I’m a Rock”! So many times I have wished that I could be a rock. No love, no pain. I would be so safe. Before I start talking about each song on this disc, I am gonna stop and say that not only does this sound right to me, but this also feels right.

Recommended Songs-Every goddarn song on the friggin disc is a damn winner. Every one of ‘em. They all feel like…..home.

- Baba T




Together through life – BOB DYLAN – 2009

We have a new occasional reviewer (yes another one). Please give a warm welcome, to The Real Cock n’ Cola. Err….yes. That’s his name. He brings opinionatedness (is that a word?) and his own musical knowledge and experience to thatdoesntsoundright. Enjoy.

You had better believe it. He is back. His mercurial wordplay sparkling, his June-born neverwhere-everything brimming over and the laughter you can almost hear in his voice (well, almost) cocked high. But then again, is he? Rather is it him, really? Sixty-seven albums, recordings and compilations later, folks I know, they insist on seeing the last century’s greatest troubadour as either of two avatars. Pre-1965/Pre-Bringing It All Back Home/Pre-Newport Folk Festival/Folk Bard and Post-The-Same/Electric Musician. Other folks I know, they say it all changed with 1967, after that fateful motorized mishap, following which John Wesley Harding and such materialized, with stoic contemplation of mundane comforts replacing all traces of social consciousness and spokesmanship (willing or otherwise) hitherto on display. Now I don’t know about them any more than I do about you, but what I do know is, show me someone who understands Bob Dylan, and I’ll show you Bob Dylan. Or, better still, show me someone who likes Bob Dylan in all his avatars, and I’ll show you a phoney. Me, I don’t care about stylistic changes much, or topical songwriting.

Where I stopped listening to Dylan was with Shot of Love. It was still excellent songwriting, and arrangements are arrangements, electric or not. I just lost it with the voice that Dylan had. See, Dylan had forsaken smoking, and he sounded, well, normal. Never a Caruso, Dylan had a voice of grit, gravel and gravity well beyond his years, and a rasp that sounded like he really, really meant things. Without a healthy layer of silt on his lungs, he sounded better, of course, but just not good enough. So, on ’Together Through Life’, the first remark springing is, ‘The Rasp is Back!’, and much, much more. Here is the intellectual critique of modern times in ‘Beyond Here Lies Nothing’. Here is the soulful, broken-hearted-ballad, ‘Life is Hard’ and of course, the romantic, wrathful, ‘Jolene’, with the topical, thematic approach that somehow still hasn’t won Dylan the inevitable Nobel laurel. One moment, though. This isn’t the voice I expected though, inasmuch it is not him, though unquestionably his. Truth be told, this is not as much passionate as it is plain phlegmatic. And, prejudice there is, but the overtone is still, very 1980 and thereon. Absent are the chords, the progressions of which may best be described as geometric. No trace of the uber-psychedelic Hammond-Fender-Rhodes-Vox arrangements. Where did the harp go? And why am I not smiling?

The only two pieces off this that will mean anything to me ever are ‘Beyond Here Lies Nothing’, with its wonderfully intricate underlying melody and the endless, endless ornamentation, sourced to David Hidalgo’s (of Los Lobos) accordion and the inimitable Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) on electric guitar, and the shamelessly danceable ‘Shake, Shake Mama’. ‘My Wife’s Hometown’ has its moments, but it does not transport me to the actual geography of it, nor does ‘Forgetful Heart’ impress or overwhelm me as did, say, ‘Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)’. The closing piece, ‘It’s All Good’ has a Chicago-shuffle-skiffle-bar rhythm section with lyrics both abstract and temporal, as only Dylan can provide, which is a relief. Irrespective of any and all other ‘transitions’, what Dylan has not lost is his ability to simply say things. “If you ever go to Austin, Fort Worth or San Antone, find the bar-rooms I got lost in and send my memories home’ croons he, on ‘If You Ever Go To Houston’, trumping introspection and poetic ability in one smooth typewriter stroke. He promptly destroys it with the silly sappiness of ‘This Dream of You’ with its opening blunder, “How long can I stay in this Nowhere Cafe before night turns to day.”

The upside of everything on ‘Together Through Life’ is the answer to The Band. Campbell and Hidalgo are resplendent, and Donnie Herron is a straight-up, back-up entity of solidity. It must be fulfilling for Dylan, to finally have three multi-instrumentalists supporting him, leaving him be to speculate and introspect unworried, especially considering Dylan’s touchstone, his voice is no longer the dominant force behind his music (though the literature still remains) and is better drowned down by electric washes and accordion licks than it would with a stripped-bare acoustic guitar and harp.

The record is not contrived, no. Nor is it unintelligent. What it is not is Bob Dylan, circa 1970 (substitute with era of preference). Be that as it may, it may still appeal to fanatics and men of poor taste and poorer information. I would consume it surely (classify in aforementioned segments as observed) but to recommend it is another question. The answer is not pleasing.

- The Real Cock n’ Cola

Electric or not, it’s still Folk Music. More of that, HERE.

Jackson C. Frank – JACKSON C. FRANK – 1965

Ladies and Gentlemen, readers of this blog (all four of you), we at thatdoesntsoundright would like to introduce you to a new and (very occasional contributor) to our work. His name is ‘Braggadocio Al’. Enjoy his first review.-El Bajista and Baba T

What do you call someone who is almost forgotten, with only one album to his name, but whose music has been covered by the likes of Nick Drake, Simon & Garfunkel and Sandy Denny ? What do you call someone who has suffered tragedy within a life that can be best described as … well, a tragedy ?

Folk Blues isn’t the sort of music you’d come across anywhere and my first encounter with Jackson Frank was with ‘Dialogue’ and ironically through the very forgettable movie Electroma, directed by Daft Punk. The reasons for putting myself through it are mine alone, for which I consent to being chastised later, but I do not regret it.

The song ‘Dialogue’, also called ‘I want to be alone’ seems to carry itself on its own through space. Its haunting tune, once inside your head, hides among other memories that you would have chosen to put away in that particular corner. The strumming pattern here, isn’t a Gordian Knot, but will definitely bring a wistful smile to the discerning ear. There is a certain finesse and an air of near-perfection that hangs about it. Jackson Frank’s lyrics are powerful, even out of the musical context in which they flourish. The intensity of the emotions that would have prompted words such as “Changes that were not meant to be/ Tow the hours of my memory” and “The tears of a silent rain/ Seek shelter on my broken pain” or perhaps even to begin a song with ‘I want to be alone’, is beyond comprehension. The burst of emotion in this song, to which only tears can applaud loud enough, never overflows the boundaries of the notes, but digs so deep as to make the surface seem still. This can be regarded as a unique song, because even Jackson Frank was quoted as saying he would never again make a song as ‘serious’ as ‘Dialogue’. Obviously, he had let too much of his heart spill out, but that was just this one time.

A closer look at Jackson C. Frank brought me to the better known (and covered) ‘Milk and Honey’ in which he is at his most defining element; a soft, mellow and angelic sound that he weaves through his strings. The imagery of his words are calculated to be beyond words. No other stream of words could have better steered a mind in the direction he sought to take it. The song is, on the whole, something that you would hold close to the heart for the consolation it carries.

One of my preferred songs is ‘Relations’, perhaps because it has helped me through some pensive solitude (during which, I strongly recommend that you do NOT listen to ‘Dialogue’). This is one of his lighter songs, if you could call it that, since it isn’t laced with the minor chords that he usually plays. The satisfaction and calmness which come about as an aftertaste is a very stark contrast to the bittersweet thread that runs in ‘Blues run the game’ and ‘Here come the blues’. Then again, it is ‘Blues run the game’ that has been covered on more than one occasion. In ‘Yellow Walls’, which has also been covered often, he maintains the same channeled expression of emotion that reverberates in ‘My name is carnival’. ‘Marlene’ comes close to ‘Dialogue’ but is more descriptive and mournful.

His other songs such as ‘Kimbie’, ‘You never wanted me’ and ‘Marcy’s song’ have found favour elsewhere, but do not strike as strongly as his other songs. ‘Don’t look back’, while being defiant bites back on the pain of the very struggle within which defiance comes to play. It references Medgar Wiley Evers, a black civil rights activist who was shot; an event that measured high on the social Richter scale, in Jackson Frank’s time.

Jackson Frank’s emotions and thoughts, or what could even be termed, philosophy, with respect to life, love, relationships, rejection and pain cover a wide range on the emotional spectrum. In all, it is thus not incorrect to say that, Jackson C. Frank is perhaps the most underrated and least remembered musician of the last century, who deserves a lot more. His music expresses a degree of darkness, pain and anguish rarely attained in music of this genre. His songs exhibit a degree of restrained expression and subtlety, both from his guitar strings and his voice, which only serve to deepen the reality of the darkness he conveys. He died a day older than 56 but left a legacy that is worth preserving forever.

Jackson C. Frank’s self titled album, is a little candy box of emotions worth protecting and savouring once in a while and an experience worth writing about. His songs live up to his name in their expression without ever going overboard. Now, what do you call music that sounds right ? Yup. Jackson C. Frank’s.

- Braggadocio Al

More FOLKsy food for the soul HERE.


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