Bob Livingston is an unusual cat. A member of a rather notorious outfit, Austin's Lost Gonzo Band, as well as a gent who's sat in with Jerry Jeff, Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and others, he's also served many years as Music Ambassador for the U.S. State Dept.—no, seriously!—and has brought American roots music and Texan modes around the globe (the bonus cut on this disc is from a 1991 Bengladesh concert with Chandan Dutta sitting in on tablas on a very cool version of Not Fade Away), so have I caught your attention? How 'bout if I tell you that Gypsy Alibi is co-produced by Lloyd Maines and features him playing alongside Livingston for the entire CD? Yeah, I thought that'd seal the deal.
I needn't, then, mention that everything on the tech side of the house is spotless, almost cinematic, but along with the very Texan old school refrains are some rather surprising gussied up touches, like the Carnatic sway of the violin in I Can't Sleep Tonight as the song transforms into a very Eastern cut with tablas and backing orchestral strings making like an outsized tanpura. Even more interested now? So was I. Thus, when Android's Lament came off like Shawn Phillips meeting Kenny Rankin with some Dan Fogelberg tossed in beneath a title that echoed of Radiohead, well, that's my kinda language. The cut could easily have been off Philips' classic but obscure Furthermore and, man, that was a niiiiice LP.
Pinin' for Bob Wills? Everyone is, but the swing elements here will remedy that yearning right quick, especially Oklahoma Girl, replete with righteous yodeling (quick, someone tell April Winchell!), and the title cut, Gypsy Alibi, is right out of Paul Williams by way of Randy Newman. It's rather amazing how some of these well integrated modern musicians, even as they age, can so deftly preserve the past while embracing the present. Art must subsume many things in order to keep itself vital, and Gypsy Alibi is a subtle exercise in just that. The more I pay attention to the wider scope of things, as is so well represented here, the less I worry about any artistic mode going out of style. After all, less isn't more, more is more, and I'll take as much as I can get, especially art. It's how we evolve.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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