This CD is named for a small music phenomenon that's gone almost unnoticed and nearly unremarked until now. The 'West Bank' was a roots/folk scene existing in Mineapolis, Minnesota, in the 60s, and it spawned one rather outstanding alumnus: Bob Dylan. Hence, there are very strong stylistic similarities to what Holter is here doing and what a young Robert Zimmerman laid down decades ago. More, in the generous liner notes, Holter relates a bit of oral history of the times and other famous figures (Spider John Koerner, etc.), stories interpolated into the title song, a Mayall-ish documentation affair.
West Bank Gone carries a kind of narrative throughout, almost like a long day chronicled, 24 hours filled with myriad adventures, and Holter pulled up Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench as a sessioneer, who turns out a great sit-in, perfectly indexed. The feel and atmosphere are definitely stylistically of times gone by, updated perhaps as far as the 70s but no further. Elements of the Byrds slip in, especially via Greg Leisz's lap and pedal steel guitars, and one detects a bit of Glass Harp, who hailed from nearby Cleveland and, in retrospect, seems may have caught more than a little of the West Bank vibe.
Holter's voice is unpolished and proletarian, perfectly matching that bottom heavy segment of the old days and old ways. Birthday in Beertown reminds a bit of JP Jones, and Holter's cover of Koerner & Murphy's Friends and Lovers recalls Harry Nilsson (his non-rock material, of course) by way of Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman. A particular diamond hidden in the roster, The Trouble Is, should become a standard in the rock catalogue. The lyrics are dead-on, uncompromising, rough, and the music propulsive, with a weighty bottom and a driving tempo. Thus, the New Orleans horns in the intro to its follow-on cut, 5 A.M., almost make ya blink, save that the transformation is pulled off in Mike Nesmith fashion and slips right into the ears.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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