THE BAND – Live in Charleston 1994 (Live on Vinyl – LOVL2027)

Live In Charleston 1994Although The Band called it a day in the late 1970s (as famously documented in Martin Scorsese’s  The Last Waltz) they did re-emerge in the early ‘80s, albeit with an altered line up. This time, there was no Robbie Robertson and although Richard Manuel would initially reunite with the group, sadly, he took his own life in the middle of the decade. Nonetheless, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko kept on keepin’ on (to borrow a phrase), eventually cracking a new audience through their 1993 LP, Jericho. This recording, Live in Charleston 1994, is a live representation of their work in this era.

While the album is mostly made up of live takes from the aforementioned Jericho record, it is the old jazz standard, ‘Caledonia’, which begins the show. The up-beat, funky and blues-esque ‘Remedy’ then follows – only being let down by the various inconsistencies in the sound which plague the first few numbers. Towards the end of side 1 however, this appears to have been addressed somewhat and classic Band numbers like ‘It Makes No Difference’ and ‘The Weight’, Bob Dylan’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’ all come out wonderfully played and relatively unscathed.

The set concludes with the encore; ‘Blues Stay Away From Me’, also from Jericho. While the 12-bar blues number is a pretty solid listen in itself, the live recording fades to silence before the song reaches a ‘real life’ conclusion, providing very little closure to the set being presented as an album.

Christopher James Sheridan

Label website:

‘Atlantic City’ – live in 1994:

BOB DYLAN AND THE BAND – 1974 Tour Live (Rox Vox RV3CD2137)

1974 Tour Live1974 Tour Live is a pretty self-explanatory title, but if you’re still curious for anything else other than the obvious, it is a three disc set, covering two shows from January ’74 (Boston and New York) from Bob Dylan and The Band, recorded during their mid-70s comeback tour. The first thing that is worth noting about the set is that the sound is excellent, particularly on the Boston show. The second thing, is that at first glance, the track list looks remarkably similar to the officially-released document of this tour, recorded in Los Angeles, Before The Flood…the operative part of that being “at first glance”.

While there are Band-styled arrangements of Dylan standards which are common to both releases, (‘Like A Rolling Stone’, ‘Lay Lady Lay’, ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’, All Along the Watchtower’ etc.) there are a good number of equally worthy selections, which did not appear on the Flood record. An almost honkytonk styled ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’ and Hammond organ soaked version of ‘I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)’ are among the openers of the Boston disc. The same rock’n’roll, tour de force makes its presence felt on the New York recordings, with a hard-hitting version of Dylan’s 1963 ‘protest-era’ number ‘The Ballad Of Hollis Brown’ and in an amped up rendition of ‘Forever Young’. The Band themselves contribute some unused gems; ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ and the effortlessly cool ‘King Harvest (Has Surely Come)’. However, it is not just electric numbers to behold on this recording; acoustic guitar and harmonica-racked versions of ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’ (where Dylan alternates between jangling guitar patterns and solo vocal) and an energetic performance of ‘Gates Of Eden’, in which his voice sounds remarkably good.

Of course, the deciding factor regarding the appeal of this album is basically a case of what you want to get out of it. For Dylan completists, it will, I’m sure, have its own appeal. For those familiar with the aforementioned Before The Flood this may feel like an extension of that record, and in a lot of ways it should; but with the added incentive of omitted tracks and alternative performances of the Flood recording.

In the current climate of the Dylan vaults being continually raided to comprise impressive, but impossibly overpriced Columbia-issued box sets (next installment earmarked for November 2018) this smaller set fits right in with the trend, a huge difference being, however, that this one won’t break the bank.

Christopher James Sheridan

No useful website but 1974 Tour Live is available from all the usual outlets.

‘Ballad Of Hollis Brown’:

folking takes a look at Talking To The Operator by Mad Staring Eyes

Mad Staring Eyes are a 6-piece band from North London. Their line up includes pedal steel and flute and revolves around a core that has played together for 20 years. In 2006 Mad Staring Eyes self-titled debut EP won the John Peel ‘Best New Band’ award and they were chosen by Michael Eavis to play the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

The band released their third album, Talking To The Operator, on October 1st. The album, recorded live onto tape using all vintage gear (including The Pogues’ 1962 Ludwig drumkit), displays a rich tapestry of folk and Americana styling drawn from a love of The Band, early Fairport, Van Morrison and Springsteen.  Led by the rogue ‘cockneyish’ charm of lead singer Alex Simler, Mad Staring Eyes offer a distinctly different slant on the conventional roots repertoire coming across like a cockney Carter Family. There are times on the infectious opener, “Waiting For The Doctor,” where you would swear you were in the presence of early Fairport whilst the brilliant ‘Don’t Lead Me On’ echo’s the lyrical genius of Pulp in all their glory.  This is an album that grabs you by the throat from the off and thereby throwing you headfirst into a vibrant, earthy, wonderfully conceived folkster world.  The exceptional musicianship and deft, thoughtful arrangements mark out Mad Satring Eyes as a band with the world at their feet.

The band have toured in the USA, UK, Canada, Russia and Germany (touring with Memphis Industries’ Dutch Uncles), playing international festivals such as South By South West (Austin, Texas), and North By North East (Toronto), playing with acts as diverse as Supergrass, The Subways, The Magic Numbers and Pete Doherty.

A Crooked Mile – by Society

Following on from their hugely successful release SONGS FROM THE BRICKHOUSE, Society are back in 2011 with A CROOKED MILE. This stunning new release is guaranteed to bring the trio even more praise from media and audiences alike. For those that don’t know Society are a three piece country rock band from West Sussex who specialise in gorgeous three part harmonies that set them apart from the current crop of Americana or country rock wanabees in the UK. The band comprise guitarist Matt Wise, bassist Ben Lancaster and holding down the beat, F.Scott Kenny on drums. Their recorded and live sound has echoes of C.S.N.Y, The BandThe Heartbreakers, The Jayhawks and the late great Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance. Matt Wise composes most if not all of their material and when all three sing in harmony the result is simply stunning, this shown perfectly at the 2011 Maverick Festival where they had the audience spellbound listening to their live performance.

Since forming in 2004 Society have supported many great artistes including Eve Selis, Deadstring Brothers, Corb Lund, Luke Doucet and The Wailin’ Jennys. Apart from their own UK headline shows, Society have completed two tours of Canada along with a string of dates in the American mid-west gaining a whole new legion of fans in the USA.

This constant touring has honed both their musical and vocal chops and in the summer of 2011 Society returned to the studio to produce A CROOKED MILE, recorded both at the Brickhouse Studios near Brighton and the bands own Downland Studios located near Gatwick. Matt Wise was in the producers’ chair, ably assisted by engineer James Gasson.

The album is once again a collection of eleven original songs from the pen of Matt Wise and arranged by all three band members. Guest musicians featured on the album include Spencer Cullum who is one of the foremost young pedal steel players around today, Ben Davies and James Batchelar on keyboards, Pat Kenneally on melodica/piano and added pedal steel is supplied by Chris Pritchard.

The songs on A CROOKED MILE once again echo their love and passion for all things West Coast USA, Laurel Canyon and the great country rock music produced in the late 1960s/early 70s, yet their sound is brought into the 21st century with a distinctly indie feel. Stand out tracks include 40 Days, a stunning and anthemic crowd pleaser, Blues Flag, reminiscent of The Band at their finest, the bluegrass influenced Davey and the perfect opening track Wheels A’ Turning, country rock at its very best.

2011/2012 will see Society touring the UK to support the release of A CROOKED MILE and already the band are confirmed for several festival appearances in 2012.

Interview with Joziah Longo from Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams have been called  “the hillbilly Pink Floyd,” which is an apt description, particularly if you throw in elements of Incredible String Band, Neil Young, The Band, Dylan, and maybe even some Frank Zappa as well. Their contagious brand of quirky Americana has taken them on tour across the UK promoting their fourth studio album, The Grand Slambovians which is also the name of the band’s latest reincarnation. Joziah Longo, (lead singer/songwriter for the band) describes the new collection of songs as – “A more extreme dose of what we’ve always been – a country prison music meets British invasion type of thing”. For the uninitiated, the band’s all over the map melodic avant folk conjures Tom Petty, Dinosour Jr., and a fuller Buffalo Tom, possessing an exotic instrumental arsenal in addition to standard rock regalia. Equal parts Washington Irving and Woodstock, the band taps a broad palette of styles ranging from dusty Americana ballads to huge Pink Floydesque cinematic anthems. Playing art school roots rock, sometimes folk and quirky Americana, they possess an exotic instrumental arsenal (accordion, cello, mandolin, theremin) in addition to standard rock regalia. “The entire root system of Rock Family Trees is embedded in Longo’s voice.”- The Big Issue, Scotland, U.K. 

Paul Johnson and I caught up with Joziah Longo after the stunning show The Grand Slambovians did to kick off Camberley Theatre’s folk & acoustic music with Attitude” nights in Camberley, Surrey, UK on the 12th April 2011 which was promoted in association with

Click on the button below to play the interview:

Together since the late 90’s where they met in art school, they settled in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and formed Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams. The band has toured nationally and abroad since forming in 1998. Known for electrifying live performances, and strong original music, they have a devoted and ever expanding fan base. In 2010 they brought their legendary Halloween show,  “The Grand Slambovian Extraterrestrial Hillbilly~Pirate Ball’ to London’s Electric Ballroom and NYC’s Gramercy Theater. “Saturday was a blast! I want you to know how great I thought your show was – you guys really made the Gramercy shine and ooze with your own personality.” – Harvey Leeds, Live Nation NYC

“. . .simply one of the finest American bands” – All Music Guide

“They may term it ‘Hillbilly-Pink Floyd’ and sure, they have an air of both Floyd and maybe Bowie at times, atop their folkcountry roots (note, not fauxcountry) but it’s done with a warmth and comfort of a mystical Nebraska or poetic Crazy Horse.” – Sleazegrinder, UK