- 23 May 01
Dermot Stokes' Albums of 1977
Randy Newman, Little Criminals, Warner Bros.
Three years of sleeping and playing with the kids have not blunted this man's sight - from the comic Western hero of 'Rider In The Rain' to the fearsome claustrophobia of 'In Germany Before The War'. Newman's words and music cut to the marrow. And they're bound with the simplest of things - his parlous piano and cracked and sally voice. An Observer with a heart who gets involved in his subject, and one of the wayward and eccentric greats.
The Bothy Band, Out of the wind - Into the Sun, (Mulligan)
Another step in the Bothy band's arithmetic progression over three albums. On Out Of The Wind, Into The Sun, they've stepped up the pace of the reel sets, achieving an even more exciting thrust, with a raw rock like edge to the sound on 'The Morning Star', 'The Hag At The Churn' and the brilliant 'Rip The Calico'. Then, contrasting in mood, the six-part jig 'the Strayaway child' and the slowest but most fully throughout song the band has recorded, 'The Streets Of Derry' and 'The Factory Girl'. Devastating moments, yes, but overall, possibly not the great leap forward I'd first suggested.
Midnight Well, Midnight Well (Mulligan)
A fine album from latent acoustic superstars - the only obstacle to this band's rise, and Thom Moore's accession to the pantheon of folky singer-songwriters is international distribution and promotion. Finely crafted songs, beautifully and sympathetically blended - and it grows. Like a good guitar, it mellows and grows richer with time.
Muddy Waters, Hand Again (Blue Sky)
Swaggering out of The Delta, former son House protege makes good - produced by Johnny Winter, who set out to capture the authentic '50s feel, and succeeded.
This is an album that stands up (that's what 'hard again' means, bub!) beside the Man's oldest and greatest stuff. Proof positive that age is a mental problem, and not a penal servitude.
Ry Cooder, Showtime (Reprise)
Is this the ultimate American panoralbum? from the Purple Valley in a chicken skin - the guitar players' guitar player souled out all over the world, and with Texican flaco Jiminez produced one of the classic albums - even down to his legendary versions of 'Dark End Of The Street' and 'How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times'. Here's hoping for more.
John Martyn, One World (Island)
An album of total music from a complete artist - guitar effects, voice, words all combined to unique and stunning effect - One World was a welcome return to was for Martyn, one of the most honest, committed and progressive musicians still in action.
- 12 Aug 22