Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007: The Year in Acoustic Rock

It turned out to be a pretty good year for acoustic rock, with legendary artists releasing new studio efforts and music from the archives. Here are a few of the albums released in 2007 that we've been playing on The Acoustic Storm (listed in chronological order):

Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall 1971
3/13/07 (Reprise)

Practically a hometown performance in Toronto, this concert captures Neil solo, live and acoustic. Among the set's highlights are the premiere of "Old Man" more than a year before it would appear on the "Harvest" album, and a powerful, stripped-down treatment of "Ohio" just months after the CSNY studio release. It's worth paying a bit more to get the entire CD-DVD package that includes the concert video.

Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full
6/5/07 (Hear Music)

Sir Paul reflects on his rich musical past and even slips in a medley as if to reference "Abbey Road." The acoustic album-opener "Dance Tonight is a simple tune that might get stuck in your head, if your "memory" isn't already full. A deluxe edition was issued late in the year with extra live tracks recorded at the Electric Ballroom in London. Speaking of live McCartney, A&E recently televised a 2007 Macca concert at the Olympia in Paris. Paul played acoustic versions of "Blackbird", "Michelle," "Dance Tonight" and "Calico Skies."

Jon Anderson - Live from La La Land
6/25/07 (Opio Media)

The lead vocalist for Yes recorded this show at the Roxy in Los Angeles and released it on his own label as an import. Still in fine voice, Anderson accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and performs Yes classics like "Roundabout," "Owner of a Lonely Heart and "Yours is No Disgrace."

Stephen Stills - Just Roll Tape
7/10/07 (Rhino)

In late April, 1968, Stills had just finished producing some sessions in New York for then-girlfriend Judy Collins when he decided to lay down some all-acoustic tracks of his own. The demos include the first-ever recordings of the CSN standards "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" (dedicated to Collins), "Wooden Ships," and "Helplessly Hoping," as well as Stills' solo material like "Change Partners" and "So Begins the Task."

Mark Knopfler - Kill to Get Crimson
9/18/07 (Warner Bros)

Dire Straits' main-man Knopfler has been releasing quality solo albums for several years now. In typical fashion, the latest album features his distinctive, elegant guitar style and rich, baritone vocals. The opening track, "True Love Will Never Fade" is a nice acoustic number.

Joni Mitchell - Shine
9/25/07 (Hear Music)
Joni came out of retirement to put together this fine collection of tunes. Several songs underscore her strong feelings about what has happened to the environment. Some of the instrumentation reminds me of the "Court and Spark" album. Check out Joni's re-recorded version of "Big Yellow Taxi."

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - Magic
10/2/07 (Columbia)

His first release with the E Street Band since 2002's "The Rising" finds Springsteen at the top of his game. Some tracks echo Bruce's love of '60s rock and roll, but the production is very much 2007. The acoustic-based songs are the title track and the CD's hidden track, "Terry's Song," Springsteen's memorial to his long-time assistant and friend, Terry Magovern.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
10/23/07 (Rounder)

What a year for Robert Plant...the Led Zeppelin reunion concert in London and this unique collaboration with bluegrass star Alison Krauss. The duo's vocals blend together well and the track selection is varied as Plant & Krauss cover the Everly Brothers, Tom Waits, Gene Clark and Townes Van Zandt. One of the tracks, "Please Read the Letter," also appears on "Walking into Clarksdale" which Plant released in 1995 with his Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page.

Eagles - Long Road Out of Eden
10/30/07 (Eagles Recording Company
)
The 28-year hiatus between studio albums was worth the long wait for Eagles' fans. The band went from 1979's "The Long Run" to 2007's "Long Road Out of Eden" with just 1994's live release "Hell Freezes Over" in between. Acoustic stand-outs include "Waiting in the Weeds", "Center of the Universe" and "No More Walks in the Wood."

James Taylor - One Man Band
11/13/07 (Hear Music)
Sweet Baby James sounds as good as ever on this acoustic effort, recorded at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, not too far from Taylor's home in the Berkshires. The usual suspects are all here, including "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend," "Carolina in My Mind" and "Country Road." It's also nice to hear "Something in the Way She Moves" which dates back to his first album.

Here's looking forward to a great '08 for acoustic rock!

Check out Acoustic Storm listener posts from the past on The Acoustic Storm Web site.

5 comments:

TMats said...

I think you pretty well covered 2007's highlights in the realm of acoustic music. For myself, 2007 was the year I joined the 21st century and received an iPod for a Christmas gift. I've spent considerable time the last week loading my favorite music from CDs and filling in the gaps with purchases. The music available online is staggering.

Many of my old favorites are LPs that I have, thus far, not transferred to CD, but I have loaded several "acoustic" favorites that some might be interested in. Failing that, the songs may generate some comment.

As I posted on the Acoustic Storm site, Emmylou Harris is my all time favorite female vocalist. I have pretty much all of her music in one format or another and have CD copies of most of my favorites. Two songs that I was quick to load are "Poncho and Lefty," the great Townes Van Zandt song and "Till I Can Gain Control Again," Rodney Crowell songwriter.

Personally, I think that Emmylou's version of "Till I Can Gain Control Again" is simply one of the finest pieces of recorded music out there. period. Playing in the Hot Band at that time was James Burton on guitar (yep, that one), backup vocals provided by Linda Ronstadt, Jonathan Edwards, and (whatever happened to) Fassoux Startling.

By 1977 when Luxury Liner was released, Rodney Crowell was a member of the Hot Band. Also in the band at the time "Pancho and Lefty" was recorded was Ricky Skaggs, Albert Lee on lead guitar and Hank DeVito on pedal steel.

While not purely acoustic, I loaded Bonnie Raitt's cover of the John Prine classic "Angel from Montgomery." Just a great piece of music from the album Streetlights.

I discovered that an acoustic favorite of mine is available; Norman Blake's classic albums, The Guitar Album and Back Home in Sulphur Springs. If you like flatpick guitar, you have to hear these albums.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Caleb said...

Now that list takes a step towards giving us non-audiophiles a shot at tracking down the live and/or acoustic material.
Couple of questions:
As a fellow Valley resident (Chandler to be specific) who is REALLY new to the area where should the wife and I go to hear good local music?
Why the focus on Petty this week and not just from you but just about all over the freaking place? (though, I hope his performance at the Superbowl is as good as Prince's last year)

Robert B said...

tmats,

I was watching either VH1 or CMT awhile back when a concert of Van Morrison came on.

Morrison was performing songs from
his new album, "Pay The Devil", a collection, mostly of country standards and a few original songs written by Morrison.

I think the last song Morrison performed was "Til I Gain Control Again."

I enjoyed the song so much that I purchased the CD, which was OK, but the best song on the CD, was
without a doubt, "Til I Gain Control Again."

I will be looking forward to hearing Emmylou's version after reading your post.

And maybe you can check out Van Morrison's version and see how it stands up to that done by Emmylou.

Robert Beasley

TMats said...

Richard, sorry about the delay in responding; I had password issues.

Have you heard Emmylou's version yet? I'll be sure and check out Van Morrison's, I should be able to at least hear a bit of it on iTunes.

Dianne Grover said...

Rock and acoustic are two of my favorite music genres so this post is just awesome. This would inspire other music lovers especially to those who are talented in playing the guitar with their mandolin picks (for instance). You really have some fantastic songs on your list and I guess I have some song hunting to do. Thank you for sharing.