Better late than never, I have been giving Spotify a run and finding it useful, although not quite as comprehensive as it likes to think..
I always have a pocketful of recommendations for records to check out and up to now have mainly looked for them on YouTube.
Thanks to the obsessives who feed it, YouTube is unbeatable as a music resource and I would watch it all night if I could get it through my tv. But the quality of the posted recordings is sometimes poor and it feels a bit antisocial to sit in my study, calling up a track at a time on my desktop machine. With Spotify on a little tablet HP, which was languishing unused, I can call up and play whole albums, quite legitimately, in kitchen or bedroom. The artists don’t all like it, of course, because Spotify does not pay much, but I reckon I am likely to spend more on records or downloads to keep, on my Brennan deck, if I am sure what I want. The Spotify quality is not perfect, either, at least through my ADSL broadband connection, but it is good enough for browsing.
I was a bit put off buying CDs last time I went to Jumbo, in Leeds, and paid full price for Mary Gauthier Live At Blue Rock.
The song that made Gauthier, I Drink, was a heartbreaker, immaculately written and sung, and picked up by Bob Dylan for his Theme Time Radio Hour on drink. Gauthier does a good live version of in on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/cd8o3qp/
There were other songs almost as good on her first albums. But in this concert I heard an artist under pressure to repeat what worked so well before and not quite getting there.
Spotify saved me being similarly disappointed with the new Neko Case album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight. I am sorry to say it, because I love Neko. Hear her at her best on Tacoma – http://tinyurl.com/p9boy8u/
I then tested Spotify by calling for Sonny George, a reasonably obscure country act. I’ve been meaning to check him out for years, on the strength of the great driving guitar of Hillbilly Train – http://tinyurl.com/qejxn5l/ shows him doing it live, and younger than I thought.
Spotify gave me his Truckin’ Country album, which gives what it says on the tin, and is good for a couple of laughs, but has mainly kitsch appeal on this side of the pond, I suspect. If I want some more, I gather from Googling, I probably want the band he comes from, The Planet Rockers. Spotify offers me some but not the album I first try for, Hillbilly Beat, or the track that got me interested in the first place.
However, I was impressed when I searched for another little-known country classic, Whoop Your Ass by the Hot Skillet Lickers, which is not even on YouTube, although you can hear at least a sample at http://tinyurl.com/praqc62/
Spotify had it, and even some more by the same North Carolina outfit.
On the way there, I got introduced to the very fine Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, revivalists of glam swing. The lady is worth both a look and a listen. Try her on Blue Skies at http://tinyurl.com/oo9tmyv/
OK. What about George Jones Has Never Sung About My Girl, by Slim Chance & The Convicts – one of several highlights of one of my favourite CDs, Bubbapalooza Vol. 1: Chronicle of The Redneck Underground? If there are more Bubbapalooza albums, I want them. Meanwhile, for Slim and the boys, Spotify fails to deliver, but YouTube comes up with a live clip – http://tinyurl.com/p2k325j/ – of their greatest song being performed at a festival called the Cabbagetown Chomp & Stomp, near their home base in Atlanta. That’s my next big holiday fixed.
Slim & The Convicts did make at least two albums, it turns out, Letters To Mama and Twang Peaks, but the only Slim Chance I can find on Spotify is a rapper of some sort. However, to give the site credit, it does have a later album, Byrd’s Auto Parts, made by the driving force of the Georgia outfit, Jon Byrd. I’ll report back on that later. Also for later, I note that he has been involved in a “hard-core country band” called The Ratchet Set, and with a singer called Greta Lee and much more.
The Nashville site Music City Roots adds: “He has also quickly made a name for himself in Music City as singer and Telecaster slinger, recording with such fine country and alternative country artists as the dangerously soulful Davis Raines and his Faders, Texas country singer Buck Jones, extraordinary folk-rock songwriter Stephen Simmons, and the rockabilly whirlwind Suzette and her Neon Angels. Byrd has found a musical kinship performing with other fine writers and performers such as Carissa Lee Broadwater, Suzanna Spring, and Ben Blankenship.”
That’s plenty to be going on with, eh?
The verdict – Google and YouTube are still the most essential tools but Spotify will become a part of my life too.
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