VARIOUS ARTISTSLone Star
A RARITY: A soundtrack album that actually has something to do with the film that spawned it, in this case John Sayles' borderlands murder mystery-cum-meditation on racism. The tunes, ranging from Fito Olivares's jaunty cumbia "Juana la Cubana" to a pair of Little Willie John blues workouts and Lucinda Williams's haunting "The Night's Too Long," suit the film's deliberate pace and sun-beaten atmosphere just right. And if Conjunto Bernal's "Mi Unico Camino" and Lydia Mendoza's "Jurame," the soundtrack's best moments, don't melt your heart, you're just too hard.
DANNY & DUSTYThe Lost Weekend
Prima Records UK
DATELINE: FEBRUARY '85. Dream Syndicate's Steve Wynn, Green On Red's Dan Stuart and assorted fellow band members and pals from the Long Ryders assembled in an L.A. studio, trucked in a lot (we're talking a lot) of beer (did I say it was a lot of beer?), and laid down a New Sincerity honky-tonk set that sold poorly but tweaked the bands' fans, some of whom would form New Depression bands like Son Volt, Wilco, Bottlerockets, etc. And this reissue (with one bonus track) really does capture the mood and spirit of a point in time which a lot of us remember with deep affection. If nothing else, the upbeat, ivory tinkling country of "Song For The Dreamers," the moody bluesadelia of "Miracle Mile" (great verse-trading between vocalists Wynn and Stuart), and the epic, chiming folk rock of "Down To The Bone" (which would become a Green On Red show stopper) all stand up as classic tunes that any songwriter and band would be proud to claim. --Fred Mills
RALPH MCTELLFrom Claire To Here: The Songs Of Ralph McTell
Red House Records
THE VERY DRAMATIC Nick Drake and John Martyn are seen stateside as the supreme English folkies, leaving the more composed Ralph McTell a lesser known name. After all, Drake killed himself, and Martyn's craggy voice sounds like he may yet, while the quite healthy McTell's singing relies on the less romantic qualities of clarity and dignity. (This writer once saw him indignantly abandon a noisy audience midsong, the moment his required stage time had expired.) If folk fans are not familiar with his claim to fame, "Streets Of London," they should definitely lay down the bucks for this recently reissued best-of collection. The lyrics remain the most colorful depiction of the homeless that any folk singer has offered to date. The rest of the cuts fall somewhat short in comparison, but are nonetheless quality enough to raise the question as to why his catalog is not available on CD.
-- Dave McElfresh
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