Fans of the Byrds’ psychedelic brand of folk-rock were left baffled by the band’s sudden about face in the direction of country music on Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Many wondered how the same band that recorded the ’60s drug anthem “Eight Miles High” could suddenly end up singing “I Love The Christian Life” without any hint of sarcasm. Even the 1968 radio ad promoting the record features a disbelieving fan insisting, “Naw, that ain’t the Byrds,” after hearing only a few song snippets. Ahead of its time, Sweetheart of the Rodeo was a groundbreaking act of rebellion away from the classic rock sound of its day, entirely different from anything the Byrds (or anyone else) had recorded before.
Laid-back, Southern-tinged, white-boy groove music from the early 70s. Cale is best known for having penned a string of hits covered by Eric Clapton, including “Cocaine” and “After Midnight.” His own recordings have largely been overlooked and forgotten. This album captures Cale in his most creative period, and reveals why his obscure sound is so often imitated by those in the know.
Really flows like an album should, with its own distinctly mellow vibe. This is music perfect for creaky old porches, rocking chairs, and hound dogs. The band shuffles along with a grooving country-blues edge that defines Cale’s unmistakable sound. His nimble guitar playing and mumbled singing style blend soulfully together on such songs as “I’ll Kiss the World Goodbye” and “Right Down Here.”
Like the blues itself, Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) is a soulful product of the Deep South. Her voice is charged with aching strains of gospel, soul, blues, and country-folk. The Covers Record is her quiet storm, a stripped down affair, featuring nothing more than her captivating voice coupled with a lone piano or guitar. Without any contrived nostalgia, her covers of mostly contemporary songs sound as if they could have come from Alan Lomax‘s Great Depression field recordings.
Iron and Wine is the obscure name adopted by singer/songwriter Samuel Beam for his self-recorded, back-porch leaning, lo-fi, one-man band. As the story goes, someone with pull at Sub-Pop Records came across a free-CD sampler from a small music magazine featuring one of Beam’s songs. In un-characteristic music exec fashion, the guy fell instantly in love with Beam’s stripped down, lyrically compelling, Southern-folk flavored sound. Beam was soon tracked down in Florida (where he fittingly teaches cinematography at some unnamed university) and offered a record deal. After signing across the dotted line with one of the last great independent labels, Beam dutifully handed over two album’s worth of self-recorded songs.