Well, hell, we're talking 'bout Colin Linden here, hain't we? What more do I need to tell you then? Along with Steve Dawson, Lloyd Maines, and double handful of others, he's one of the very best when it comes to roots musics. This latest release, Still Live, is produced by Linden himself and is indeed live with a backing threesome—though Spooner Oldham isn't always in the mix, which means it's yer basical trio—but, good Lord in Heaven!, wait 'til you hear Colin's licks. It ain't fair!! No one should be allowed to be that damn good. It causes the rest of us inferiority complexes, 'n thet jes' ain't right, Jeeter! Think I'm kiddin'? Well, the esteemed guitar player just got his Green Card, finally, making him a Lawful Permanent Resident in the U.S., and he secured it on the grounds of being "an alien of extraordinary ablity". I ain't kiddin' one leetle bit.
And everything about this release is rather extraordinary, from the music itself to the engineering to the artful presentation (liner, etc.). Its musical temperament ranges from the Band-ish Between Darkness and the Light of Day to the Chicago blues of Who's been Talking (a very cool contrast to Peter Green & Fleetwod Mac's version from the 60s) to the uber-wistful Sugar Mine to the sprightly jive-jump of From the Water, making Still Live a cavalcade of back-to-basics wonders. John Diamond and Gary Craig do a great job on drums and bass respectively, but the day is completely taken by Linden, whose acumen matches and often eclipses even legendary figures. The sheer range of sounds he coaxes out of that guitar of his must be heard to be believed. Many compeer experts couldn't do in the studio what Colin does live. No joke, there's no electronic jiggery-pokery going on anywhere here, just the evidences of a life spent mastering the subtleties of the craft. The result is testament to what the human brain and hand can do that all the fancy-schmancy mechanical doo-dads from here to Alpha Centauri can't overcome.
It's appropriate, then, that Still Live has emerged on the pristine Yellow Dog Records label, which has issued so many gems and seen such unique talent (like the sadly defunct Asylum Street Spankers, a killer ensemble) pass through its multi-track halls. The packaging itself is pure class, six panels standing as tributes to the photographic art while including a 16-page lyrics 'n essay booklet that's quietly dignified. Mike Powers 'n the cats 'n kitties over at YDR have long known what they're doing, and thus Colin Linden is well served by this righteous issuance. My favorite cut? Any in which he cuts loose and solos like nobody's business, and there are quite a few of those here, so I ain't naming just one. I'd look like an idiot.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles