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Cowboys In Cyberspace - July 2003

"Revive, Survive, Archive"


This month we look at some enhanced-CD videos and some rare TV shows that have ended up on DVD:

CD coverWhen WILLIE NELSON first arrived in Nashville 1960 he recorded some songs on an old reel of tape for Ray Price and Hal Smith's publishing company Pamper Music. One of them, his original demo of Crazy, was subsequently heard and recorded by PATSY CLINE and the rest is history. From this tape of just Willie and his guitar comes a new shiny digital disc, Crazy: The Demo Sessions (Shock Records) and included on the CD is a bonus video interview with his buddy and legendary songwriter HANK COCHRAN, who reminisces about Willie's early days. Drop the CD into your computer for this rare treat.

CD coverRICHARD THOMPSON writes incisive lyrics, sings them with Celtic/folk overtones, and is possibly one of the few truly innovative guitar stylists in the world today. His songs have been recorded by The Del McCoury Band, Albert Lee, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, K.T. Oslin, Buddy & Julie Miller, and our very own Bushwackers, to name just a few. The initial pressings of his latest outstanding CD The Old Kit Bag include a bonus CD with two live songs, and a clip from the BBC documentary on him, Solitary Life.

Before the advent of video recorders, TV shows were often filmed directly from a television set with a kinescope, which was at the time the only way to preserve them. Dubbed 'kinny' for short, the resulting quality of the copies was variable to say the least. Why then would anyone want to transfer those films to DVD? Well, for one thing, some of the most historical performances only exist as 'kinnys'. THE TOWN HALL PARTY was held in Compton, California (about 10 miles from Hollywood) and broadcast from 1952 until 1961. Bear Family Records have gathered together multiple appearances by various guest stars and released them on a new series of DVDs (available in Australia from The AV Channel / Umbrella Entertainment.)

DVD coverJOHNNY CASH AT THE TOWN HALL PARTY 1958-1959 contains 70 minutes of Johnny Cash recorded on two separate dates. The first 12 songs feature ultra-rare footage where he appears with simply the Tennessee Two backing him. Luther Perkins on guitar giving new meaning to the term 'straight man' and bass player Marshall Grant providing the foundation of the magical and distinctive sound that they made with Cash. Filmed as Cash was making the transition from Sun Records to the Columbia label, this is historical footage indeed, capturing the trio and the raw power of their live show. The following 14 songs, recorded the following year when the band was augmented with piano and drums, are no less entertaining. The material ranges from the early classic hits to Gospel, and to Cash's tongue in cheek stab at Heartbreak Hotel.

 


 

If you want to share the location of an interesting site you've seen or request a topic for discussion in future columns, why not E-mail me.

Don't forget to listen out for cyberBob each month on the radio waves with Belinda Miller of Murri Country, 4AAA (98.9 FM in Brisbane) and Barbara Morison on 2SER (107.3 FM in Sydney and on the Web).

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DVD cover BOB LUMAN - AT 'TOWN HALL PARTY' is another 70 minutes of history, culled from eight separate appearances by BOB LUMAN. He started out as a rockabilly performer (as he is seen here) and later switched to country. He was heavily influenced by Lefty Frizzell, but then he saw Elvis, who inspired him to try his hand at the rockabilly sound. His early band were so good, label-mate Ricky Nelson 'expropriated' them, and so Luman is backed here by the various members and singers of the Town Hall Party house band, although on the final two songs you will hear James Burton (moonlighting from Nelson) twanging in fine form even though he barely appears on camera. The house band players are no slouches themselves and amongst the guitarists on these performances you will see superpickers Joe Maphis and Merle Travis. The live Town Hall Party shows were extremely popular in their day and their loose exciting feel is well represented here. Luman is an audacious performer, perfect for the moment.

DVD coverEDDIE COCHRAN - AT 'TOWN HALL PARTY' may only be 31 minutes long but it is large in historic significance. Earlier, in 1954, EDDIE COCHRAN was half of the Cochran Brothers, his partner being none other than the aforementioned HANK COCHRAN to whom he was related only by a love of country music and not by blood! By 1958 Eddie was a solo artist with hits like Summertime Blues and C'mon Everybody under his belt and by the time he made these appearances on 'TOWN HALL PARTY' in February 1959 he was in full flight. Backed by Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers, he exudes confidence and talent, plus an ability to slip from a rock number to a country crooner with ease and credibility. A little over a year later his life would be cut tragically short, but this film reaffirms that he was a true star in his time and deserving of the legendary status that was to follow.

DVD coverGENE VINCENT - AT 'TOWN HALL PARTY' combines appearances from three dates when GENE VINCENT appeared on the show, one in 1958 with his own band The Blue Caps and in twice in 1959 with the house band. In 48 minutes we see and hear, in contrast to the Eddie Cochran disc, an unashamedly nervous performer, seemingly detached from his considerable talents as if they were an aberration that he can neither control nor understand. He almost apologises for deviating from the rock repertoire to sing a Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired You Win Again or the ballad Over The Rainbow, yet the audience responds with as much enthusiasm as they do for his classic hit Be-Bop-A-Lula. It would be the unlikely combination of this vulnerability and the threat that rock music then posed, that would make him an icon of the era, particularly to fledgling UK rockers such as The Beatles who would soon mimic his leather-clad style. See here then, the essence of rock 'n' roll captured for all time.

Available in Australia from
The AV Channel / Umbrella Entertainment.

Until next month, happy surfing!

LAST MONTHHOME COWBOYNEXT MONTH

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