Whoa, this one kicks into high gear right from the opening chords! Randy Thompson has released several CDs heretofore, and now collects various cuts from 'em along with 4 numbers gathered up nowhere but here, 2 of them unreleased. Songbird, the lead cut, is indicative of the reason for the anthology in the first place: a road song presentation of the tracks most requested by audiences here and in Europe, where he's been noted as a "touring powerhouse" and "compelling performer". No argument from me on that, and part of the reason lies in lead guitarist Garrick Alden, who, when he throws off the bit and bridle, burns the skies down. Collected, though, contains a good deal more than hi-energy country folk rock, as Randy knows his way around a ballad or two as well.
There's a bit of John Fogerty to Thompson. He has the same power, guts, straightforwardness, and roots-rock composing head while easing back on Fogerty's unique intensity. There's also some Jesse Colin Young in the folkier aspects, but with a much heavier backroads twang as well as a throatier and firmer singing voice, with the son-of-the-sod factor more a Hoyt Axton or John Prine gig in inflection. Expect banjo, fiddle, mando, steel guitar, and all the Americana periphernalia in an extremely well layered recording by Alden himself. The guy knows his tech to a fare-thee-well, trust me, and if Lindsey Buckingham, himself a studio ace, ends up taking a lesson or two from him, it won't surprise me a bit.
Colin Thompson (Randy's bro?) wields a righteous slide on one cut, and I mean a REALLY killing axe, y'all, on Goin' Down to Lynchburg Town, which may be my favorite cut for just that reason. Reminds me of Mick Abrahams with Blodwyn Pig in the early days—grabs ya by both ears and won't let go. Lowell George and Skydog Duane will be smiling like pigs in a hot mud puddle somewhere in hog heaven when this tune wafts up to 'em in the stars of the Southern Cross. The track's bouncy, catchy, the kind of thing that would get endless rounds of play were radio stations anything other than the hopeless corporate mediocrity troughs they too often are (or, just as bad, endless repeaters of the same dozen artists). If you want a gen-yoo-wine country-bar ambiance, Heart of Stone (not the Stones cut) is so deep into Texas that it keeps jostling into Bill Monroe, Travis Tritt, Steve Earle, and Willie. Maybe a little Ray Price as well. Randy Thompson has that same straight from the heart and gut individualism.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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