Saturday, January 19, 2008

We Are Stardust, We Are Golden

There is not one good or authentic country & western song in the entire movie, but there's still Debra Winger riding the mechanical bull like it was meant to be rode and that's enough.
-- Don Graham, Giant Country

Mechanical Bull, A Million Yes-
terdays, Woodstock MusicWorks

The name conjures up images of Debra Winger in Urban Cowboy (you know, simulating sex on the barroom fixture
in question). I'm not sure that's such a good thing, although
your mileage may vary. Nonetheless, this Woodstock sextet
does put a citified spin on country, so it seems somehow fitting.

Yet describing Mechan-
ical Bull's second full-
length as country or alt-
country is rather reductive.

I'm reminded more of Fleetwood Mac in the way Chase Pierson and Avalon Peacock (the daughter of composer Annette Peacock) harmonize. They've got a Lindsay Buckingham/Christine McVie thing going on, except Pierson sounds more like Steve Earle than Buckingham.

A Million Yesterdays conjures up California's country-rock scene of the '70s combined with the Paisley Underground's more independent-minded approach—except for that West Coast part...and those mountains of cocaine. Nice touch: Medeski, Martin and Wood's John Medeski contributes Hammond B3 organ to the torchy "Luke Warm Coffee."

Bret Mosley, Light & Blood, Woodstock MusicWorks

Click here to listen to "Run It Again"

A New Yorker-by-way-of Texas, Brooklyn's Bret Mosley makes front porch music. I'm thinking of the sequence in I'm Not There
in which Carl Marcus Franklin (the son of director Carl Franklin) and Richie Havens duet on Bob Dylan's "Tombstone Blues."

Granted, similar scenes feature in most movies
set Down South, like John Sayles's upcoming Honey-
. That doesn't make them any less enjoyable.

[And Havens's well received
appearance in the original Woodstock "brings it all back
home," to paraphrase I'm Not There's slippery subject.]

This isn't to suggest that Mosley plays "the straight and natural
blues," as Mississippi Fred McDowell used to say; Light & Blood moves more like an amalgam of country, blues, and soul. Mosley handles dobro and stompboard, while other musicians add har-
monica, pedal steel, and bass, but you can hardly hear them.

For the most part, Mosley's Chase Pierson-produced deb-
ut sounds like one guy on one porch singing and strumming
his way through 11 originals
and two covers, Son House's "Preachin' Blues" and the traditional "Amazing Grace."
And sometimes that's all you need. Recommended to fans
of Taj Mahal and Ben Harper.

Endnote: The lyrical subject line stems from Joni Mitchell's
song "Woodstock." And I tried to find a still of Debra Winger
riding a mechanical bull, but my search came to nought.

Images from The Weinstein Company, the official Bret Mosley website (when he was a few years younger than Franklin), The
80s Movies Rewind
, The Mechanical Bull MySpace Page (Pea-
cock), and The Hungary Page. (Apparently, Winger is Hungar-
ian. According to this site, by way of the Associated Press, "People
with some claim to Hungarian ancestry have been nominated
for Oscars 136 times since 1929, when the first ones were hand-
ed out, and have taken home 30 of the golden statuettes.")

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