Various Artists - Frisco Mabel Joy Revisited: For Mickey Newbury

Frisco Mabel Joy Revisited:
For Mickey Newbury

Various Artists APR CD 1048

Applesseed Records
P.O.Box 2593
West Chester, PA 19380

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

I have no idea why I am an obsessive collector of Tribute albums, in spite of the fact that more than eight out of ten disappoint me very quickly. I may be looking for something that just isn't there. So let me get this straight right now: in spite of what you might have heard this not a exactly tribute album. The word tribute doesn't appear anywhere on the cd, and the only words are "For Mickey Newbury". At last, this is an act of love.

Tribute albums tend very often to have three kinds of performers on them: Those who really like the song they are performing, those who are invited because they are famous and are quite indifferent to the song they are singing, and then there are those who are not famous enough but think that being on a Dylan tribute is good marketing. Since Newbury is not really a superstar we have stayed only with lovers of his songs singing his music.

Newbury's Frisco Maybel Joy was released in 1971 to an indifferent world. The LP never made the charts but it seems that everyone who heard his early music was either influenced by it or helped them to become singer songwriters. It is not that Newbury's songs are unknown, any American has probably heard half a dozen of them performed by other artists, who topped the charts with his masterpieces. There are around 350 recorded covers of his songs.

This cd is a revision of that LP in the same order that the songs appeared in the original album, performed by other artists, plus the song San Fransisco Maybel Joy, which didn't appear in the original album (the original appears in Feels like Rain and Heaven Helps the Child).

I wouldn't dare to compare this cd to original, this is altogether another album and as such is very successful. I listened to this cd 50 times before reviewing it and it gave me new angles from which to look at these familiar songs, as well as hours of enjoyment. All the versions here have something new to say about the songs, although I have to say that none of them go as deep as Newbury's versions. I know that would be too much to ask.

Although tributes to specific LP's are not new, there is one to Fleetwood Mac's Rumor and also a very good tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska titled Badlands, I think that this cd is better than both of them and of the many tribute albums that have flooded the marked in the last ten years. It could easily be in the top ten lists for year 2000 of many folk fans and many readers of FAME. And one more thing, if you don't have the original album then buy it, too, and other Mickey Newbury cd's. They are all great.

Track List:

  • Prologue - Bill Frisell
  • An American Trilogy - Midnight Choir
  • How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song) - Walkabouts
  • Interlude (Side A) - Bill Frisell
  • The Future's Not What It Used To Be - Garry Heffern
  • Mobile Blue - Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men
  • Frisco Depot - Meredith Miller Band
  • You're Not My Same Sweet Baby - Chuck Prophet
  • Interlude (Side B) - Bill Frisell/Robin Holcomb
  • Remember The Good - Michael Fracasso
  • Swiss Cottage Place - David Halley
  • How I Love Them Old Songs - The Hole Dozen
  • San Francisco Mabel Joy - Kris Kristofferson

Edited by: Virginia Wagner

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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