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Three Greats From
Acoustic Sounds/Analogue Productions:

Nancy Bryan
Wild Child Butler
Lazy Lester 

By Dave Glackin
Click here to e-mail reviewer

 

Nancy Bryan "Neon Angel"

Nancy Bryan, Neon Angel 
Analogue Productions LP

  Wow. Nancy Bryan is the best new (to me) female vocalist I have heard in a long time. She has a combination of introspection and intensity that really gets under your skin. Her lyrics and performance are haunting and intensely personal. And she has an obviously well-trained, strong voice, with articulation that lets you understand the lyrics. Chad Kassem's selection of Nancy to record an original Analogue Productions work was inspired.

The 45 rpm 2-LP set is simply stunning. It has beautiful vocal quality while the acoustic guitar, dobro, harmonica, etc., are right there, and perfectly balanced with one another. (And Jimmy D. Lane contributes some great dobro work!) This is one of the most realistic recordings I have ever heard! In concept, it is evocative of Joni Mitchell's Blue. (And that thought came to me long before I saw the parallel drawn in the Acoustic Sounds catalog.) Nancy creates and sings poetic, original stories of human failings and frailties. This is a tough record to talk over, because it makes you want to sit and concentrate on the lyrics. And it passed my personal goosebump test, which very few recordings can do.

This recording is available on 45 rpm LP, CD or SACD. All I can say is that the LP is phenomenal. Chad Kassem has done a hell of a job with his Analogue Productions label. This LP was recorded at Blue Heaven Studios is Salina, Kansas, a venue with which I am very familiar (see my article on Acoustic Sounds' Blues Festival).

If you own a turntable that runs at 45 rpm, buy this record. If you don't, trade in your old one for one that has a 45 rpm speed and then buy this record. Don't delay.

 

Enjoyment: 100

Sound Quality: 100

 

 

Wild Child Butler

Wild Child Butler (Direct to Disc)
Analogue Productions

I was there. I heard this guy live, performing in this space. Stan Ricker was there, and his direct-to-disc lathe captured everything that the recording engineers up the chain fed him. Here's an excerpt from my article on Acoustic Sounds' Blues Festival:

"Wild Child, a harmonica player par excellence, has toured with Jimmy Rogers and Lightnin' Hopkins, and according to the folks at Blue Heaven he is one of the most underrated blues performers today. He was also one of the kids of this group, at age 64. I went nuts over his performances in rehearsal and concert. Wild Child bounded onto the stage sporting what looked like a cartridge belt, but it turned out to be a harmonica belt. With the appropriate harmonica always ready, Wild Child put on an astounding show. In my opinion, this fellow deserves to be ranked right up at the top of today's blues masters. Wild Child's harmonica playing and singing really hit me where I live. And keep your eye on Wild Child's lead guitarist, one Aaron Ron Griggs. Aaron grew up listening to Wild Child's recordings from the age of eight, and fantasized about playing in his band. At the young age of 22, Aaron is living that fantasy. Aaron's guitar work was fluid, dexterous, and suffused with feeling."

That described the concert. This recording captures the same sound, minus the audience coughs and sneezes, not to mention wild applause. This LP is an authentic, stripped-down recording of gritty and raw blues. I love the fact that Chad Kassem chose to make direct-to-disc recordings in the year 2000. I really love the fact that he asked my buddy Stan Ricker to engineer those D-2-Ds. And I appreciate being asked to cover the event for the audiophile press. This is an historical recording, because it represents an important, under appreciated artist, as well as the first D-2-D recording in a long, long time.

Enjoyment: 80

Sound Quality: 80

 

 

Lazy Lester

Lazy Lester (Direct-to-Disc) 
Analogue Productions

Like the Wild Child review above, I was there. I heard this guy live...

Lazy Lester, when asked by someone if you needed a harmonica to play the blues, said "No, you've got everything you need, this [pointing to his heart], this [pointing to his mouth], and this [pointing to his brain]. When asked if it was difficult to sing the blues, he replied "There's nothin' to it. Just jump in, start it up, and haul ass." The day before the first concert, Lester quipped, "Tomorrow, we're kickin' butt and takin' names." Does that sound lazy to you? I didn't think so. Lester opened on the second night, at one point noting that "W.C. Handy wrote this song, and we've been trying to sing it ever since." As Lester unrolled the cable for his harmonica mike, he noted that, "When you've got a long cord, sometimes it gets tangled up." Some of his other quips are definitely not suitable for reproduction here (and no, they're not on the studio session recording). When asking the crowd, "Is it blues yet?" Lester got a resounding "Yeah!" that ricocheted around the church. At the end of his set, Lester noted that "I did the playin' and you did the listenin'. Thank you."

Lester is a blues harmonica player and vocalist, and he simultaneously plays foot percussion. He solos on one side of the direct-to-disc LP, and Henry Gray joins him on piano on the other side. He really has fun with the harmonica and percussive foot instruments going at the same time, and he's obviously a natural musician. My favorite cut is the third one on the side with Henry Gray, entitled "Blue Lester."

Lester is a true original. He is honest, straightforward, noncommercial, and most definitely "the real deal". The sound of this recording gives the impression of a direct transcript of history in the making; it is honest, pure, and definitely not gussied up to make it more commercial. Chad is to be congratulated for having the vision to make these festivals, and the Analogue Productions blues recordings, really go.

 

Enjoyment: 80

Sound Quality: 90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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