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James McMurtry - James McMurtry: Americana Masters Series, The Best of the Sugar Hill Years

James McMurtry:
Americana Masters Series,
The Best of the Sugar Hill Years

James McMurtry

Sugar Hill - 4025

Available from Sugar Hill Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb
(taoboy@cox.net)

This material is pulled from three Sugar Hill discs (It Had To Happen, Walk Between The Raindrops, and St Mary of the Woods), and it presents many of this performers best-known work. It is both a good collection and an excellent introduction to McMurtry's work. For those that aren't very familiar with his work, he is an extremely concise and literate and at times acerbic, songwriter. He packs into his songs the vividness, fury and gut wrenching wallop of his father's, Larry McMurtry, prose, and he is not afraid to let his verbal punches fly with full fury. He is going to stand up for what he says. His politics are close to the surface in his work, as in Tired of Walking, his support of the working man who has to fight the system and is faced with the dilemmas that try a man's will. There he perfectly packages his fury and frustrations with the directions and choices into five and a half minutes of savage fury. His music is a perfect blend of folk, country and rock and roll, bending and using it all and fusing it all together perfectly. The music has a barbed wire tautness that propels the song to its conclusions while he sings with a ferocity in the wind that is blowing. His songs are complete short stories in themselves that are enhanced, amplified and driven by the music in what is a remarkably effective manner. It is one of the most successful marriages of words and music to come along in a long time. Turn up the cut Walk Between The Raindrops" and you can hear/feel the raindrops smoothing off the edges and washing the skin clean.

Track List:

  • Sixty Acres
  • Every Little Bit Counts
  • No More Buffalo
  • Gulf Road
  • Tired of Walking
  • Lobo Town
  • Broken Bed
  • Paris
  • Walk Between the Raindrops
  • Fast as I Can
  • 12 O'Clock Whistle
  • Choctaw Bingo

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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