Rhythm + Views


Acoustic Swing & Jug

SIXTIES JUG BAND music was one of those gone-before-you-know-it moments in American music; both an East Coast, post-beatnik revival of a '20s/'30s black style, and a stateside equivalent to England's skiffle music scene. Oddly, both were incubators of significant pop/rock bands: Skiffle brought about the Mersey Beat era as well as the Beatles, while the jug band music of Kweskin and a few others morphed into The Lovin' Spoonful, The Mamas And Papas and Maria Muldaur (a former Kweskinite). Kweskin was an admirable balance of music archivist and comedian, slapping Mississippi John Hurt's gorgeous "Richland Woman" up against the goofy but definitely swinging "Never Swat A Fly."

Unfortunately, this group of wild characters fizzled out in a pre-rock era now mostly remembered for the Diet Folk Music of the Kingston Trio. In this writer's opinion, the Vanguard label never produced a more colorful band, and this album is up their with their best.

--Dave McElfresh


(Get Hip)

I CAN'T RECALL any bands from Dallas making a dent in recent music history, but the Mullens blaze through their debut album, dead set on being the first. Better yet, it's pleasingly hard to pinpoint the Mullens sound or quickly reduce them to some catch-phrase label flawed by implication. As soon as the needle head bounced onto the first cut, there was no doubt this album was a keeper on the unpretentious rock spectrum, sure to sound as vital 10 years from now as it does today. The Mullens deliver straight up rock-and-all-night-roll. Boring? I think not. Attitude-driven treblefest you can feel in your bones (but thankfully, not ear-achingly lo-fi)? Hell, yeah!

Don't go by my recommendation alone: If you like the Rolling Stones, Ramones or early Lyres, the Mullens will do you right. Lead singer Tim Stile's smug, Jagger-esque vocals come across as the voice of every narcissistic bastard who knows he gets what he wants. "Well I used to shop/But never stopped to try you/Now I'm pretty sure, baby I'm gonna drive you," he asserts on "Step On the Gas." Cuts like "Thought You Left," "Black Molly" and "Start Smokin' " are the reasons a new band is started every day in yet another kid's basement.

No gimmicks, no naked chicks on the album cover, no movie-soundtrack ballads. This is the music that separates the veritable fans from the garage tourists.

--Fen Hsiao


Yesteryear Of The Horse
(Gold Standard)

LAST YEAR, AFTER Young released his Year Of The Horse concert film, a compilation video appeared among collectors' circles entitled Yesteryear Of The Horse. Highly unauthorized, it made for compelling viewing as it captured Neil and his Horse in full gallop in Japan and London during the legendary spring '76 tour; rumor had it the professionally shot footage was originally slated for a concert film, never completed, called Odeon/Budokan. Now, some enterprising persons have taken the audio portion of Yesteryear and turned it into a compact disc (also, um, highly unauthorized). And if you excuse the slightly low volume level, which can be remedied by a twist of a stereo knob, and a bit of audible hiss due to tape generation loss (not a problem if you're used to listening to live tapes), it's quite a show. Starting out in "mellow Neil" fashion ("Mellow My Mind," natch, then "Too Far Gone") and rising to an early rocking peak ("Drive Back," "Cowgirl In The Sand") then back down to some country and folk ("Lotta Love," "Tell Me Why"), it concludes with two of his epic-length classics ("Down By The River," "Cortez The Killer").

The dynamics of this set are just like those of a great concert, suggesting that the original video compilers had a sense of artistry about them, or at least an intuition where it comes to things-Neil. A lo-fi banjo/harmonica rehearsal of "Out On The Weekend," from '72, is tagged on the end as a nice bonus cut.

--Fred Mills

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