Thursday, March 25, 2010
Backstreet Recommends: Viva Last Blues
Regular readers will not be surprised by this but I have a fairly big heart on for Will Oldham. For the uninitiated Mr. Oldham is a Louisville, KY fellow who started his art working life as an actor then quickly became disillusioned with that profession and fell into songcraft in an odd offhand manner. The earliest iterations of his works were released under the evolving Palace Brothers/Palace Music/Palace moniker. After a couple of releases under his given name he adopted the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy handle, around 1999 to be exact, and that has been his nom de plume ever since.
So the album recommendation I have for you is Palace Music - Viva Last Blues.
Released in 1995 it took the bare bone and introspective frame of the previous Days in the Wake and gave it muscle and an electrical charge. Sebadoh's Jason Loewenstein sits in on drums and Oldham's brother Ned provides bass on tracks that describe a kind of romantic/brutal alternate frontier landscape that you could find in Cormac McCarthy's novels. Lyrics like "If I could fuck a mountain / Lord, I would fuck a mountain / and I'd do it with a woman in the valley" ("The Mountain Low") are the kind of twisted love notes Oldham continues to refine even today. "New Partner", "The Brute Choir" and others are songs that, in 1995, sounded like they were drawn from a long dormant and finally discovered canon of folk blues and their strength remains undiminished.
Viva Last Blues is available currently on CD @ Backstreet Fredericton for $16.98
(It is still in print on vinyl and available for order.