Tuesday, February 02, 2021

New music: Uncle Walt's Band, Alabama Slim, Richard Hell and the Voidoids

Three special early 2021 releases are worthy of discovery by music lovers.

Uncle Walt's Band
Title: Recorded Live at Waterloo Ice House (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Buck Owens, David Ball, Lyle Lovett, Americana music
Tell me more: Omnivore Recordings continues its series of essential and expanded reissues with Recorded Live at Waterloo Ice House, a recording featuring groundbreaking Austin trio Uncle Walt's Band (Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood and David Ball). The track listing was pulled from concerts staged March 19-20 and April 9-10, 1982 Originally issued as a private pressing in 1982 on the band's own Lespedeza label, that 14-track set has been expanded to an impressive 21 tracks. There is no filler to be heard here; the gorgeous harmonies-drenched ballad "Love Has Laid Me Down," '50s-styled "Stagger Lee," jazzy "Bye, Bye Baby" and "Desiree," countrified "Motor City Man" and "I'm Going To Break My Heart In Two" are just a few of the stellar selections on the wonderful title. The audio CD package includes an insightful 12-page booklet with historical photos and terrific liner notes adding depth to the set. While Ball is alive and well, Hyatt died in a plane crash in Florida in 1996 and Hood passed away after a battle with cancer in 2001. Catch up with Uncle Walt's Band's important legacy when Recorded Live at Waterloo Ice House is released on Feb. 5, 2021. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Alabama Slim
Title: The Parlor (Cornelius Chapel Records)
You might like if you enjoy: John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Little Freddie King
Tell me more: Alabama Slim's The Parlor was tracked in a single session over the course of four hours in June 2019, with the Vance, Alabama native's resonant baritone vocals and guitar work bolstered by guitarist Little Freddie King and drummer Ardie Dean. That session was engineered by Reginald Nicholas and produced by Dean; later Matt Patton and Bronson Tew took those raw files, remixing and mastered the 10 tracks back to tape with the addition of bass guitar, organ and piano (courtesy of Matt Patton and Jimbo Mathus). The results of their collective efforts shine across the authentic blues-styled The Parlor. Slim — whose birth name is Milton Frazier  was born in March 1939. He is truly impressive across a solid and stirring effort recorded a few months after he turned 80; the album is sure to please all fans of traditional blues. Highlights include the nuanced "Rob Me Without A Gun," politically-minded "Forty Jive" and decidedly loose "Someday Baby" and "Down in The Bottom." Little Freddie King takes over lead vocals on the driving "Freddie's VooDoo Boogie." Information: musicmaker.org/artists/alabama-slim/

Richard Hell and the Voidoids
Title: Destiny Street Complete (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Television, the Clash, the New York Dolls, punk rock
Tell me more: Richard Hell and the Voidoids' Destiny Street was the follow-up to 1977's acclaimed punk album Blank Generation. The sophomore effort Hell and the Voidoids recorded in 1981 and released in 1982 didn't ultimately meet Hell's standards. And as Hell notes in the liner notes on the outstanding new Destiny Street Complete collection: "The final mix was a morass of trebly multi-guitar blare." Indeed, Destiny Street Complete includes four newly remastered albums on two audio CDs, including a new remix of the album (and the bonus track "Don't Die"). The good news is that the latest remix was made possible with the unexpected discovery of three of the four original 24-track master tapes from the original recording sessions, which Hell had been told had been lost. With their discovery, Hell realized he could add new guitar solos and vocals in order to create a new and improved version of the album. It's fun to hear the different versions of the hard-driving songs (including a dozen demos recorded 1978-1980). 

The mix of material that benefits from Hell's signature style includes his covers of the Kinks' rousing "I Gotta Move" and 
Bob Dylan's reflective "Going Going Gone" as well as blistering original rockers ("The Kid With the Replaceable Head," "Lowest Common Dominator," "Destiny Street") and genre-mixing gems ("Downtown at Dawn," "Time," "Staring in Her Eyes"). In addition to Destiny Street Complete being available as the wonderful two-disc audio CD title reviewed here (complete with a fully-illustrated 22-page booklet), Omnivore Recordings also has a very limited supply of clear vinyl editions of the title Destiny Street Remixed available as a stand-alone vinyl release via the record label's website. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Robert Kinsler 

Here is the version of the column as it appeared in print in Desert Star Weekly on Feb. 3, 2021.

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