Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lucinda Williams- live and out of print

Last Thursday, Ms. Williams (now engaged to her manager) did all of her self-titled album which is a great but out of print record. It was kind of sad that LW took a night out of her performances of full albums (she also did Car Wheels on A Grave Road, Essence on other nights) from her back catalog to chronicle a record that the crowd couldn't buy anymore, unless they shelled out about 4o dollars for a used copy or bought from her mersh booth a newly burned copy of the first set of this show where she recreated the record (which she'll hopefully sell at her site eventually).

This was her self-titled third album (from 1988), which finally got her recognized- she'd only recorded two other albums in the previous decade, being (in)famous for doing things her way. Speaking of which, I counted three times during the set that she would stop a song near the beginning to start over and get it right (even when it sounded great as it was). Those kind of blips didn't phase the audience who knew that it was part of who she was and that in the end, she'd deliver, which she did.

It wasn't just that each of the songs still sounded great but also that she could tick off a list of artists who helped to popularize the songs there including hits for Mary Chapin Carpenter and Patty Loveless and another cover by Tom Petty. Williams loved to point out how out of step she's been with industry, noting that she got her first Grammy for songwriting for "Passionate Kisses" even though MCC's label tried to dissuade her from covering it. Also, when it came time to put out her own album in the late 80's, she couldn't find a sympathetic home for it in Nashville, having instead turned to an English punk label (Rough Trade), which she recorded for a measly $17,000. It's an album that doesn't deserve to sit in limbo.

For the second half of the show, she brought out some heroes of hers to perform with her. After guitarist/songwriter Jim Lauderdale did "Lost in the Lonesome Pines" (one of his best songs), David Byrne came on and did Talking Heads favorites "Buck Naked" (which Terry Allen also did a great version of years ago) and "Heaven" (which Lucinda said was one of her favorite songs) with LW and her band and then a pretty duet with LW on her song "Over Time." Then, it was time for another LW hero as David Johansen came on and did another duet with her (a hilarious version of her "Jailhouse Tears") and then a hard-ass honky tonk version of the New York Dolls' "Looking for a Kiss." Memphis singer Susan Marshall (who's backed up Cat Power recently) had been singing on an off with the band during the show and then got a showcase of her own with a killer version of "Piece of My Heart" that I swear almost matched Janis and Big Brother. LW followed with a new punk-blues song called "Honey Bee" (which the White Stripes could have covered) which left her exhausted and a kick-ass version of "Joy" (featuring an Allmans-like guitar duel). For an encore, she came back with Byrne to do a emotion-paced version of Al Green's "Take Me To the River" (one of the Heads' most noted staples). It was one of the best sets I've seen in a while.


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