WAYNE "THE TRAIN" HANCOCK – VIPER OF MELODY

I figured there would be no better segue from Dale Watson than the new Wayne “the train” Hancock album. Now, to be honest, most of my Hancock knowledge has been gleaned from the Hank III fan base and up until Viper of Melody I’d never owned any of his cds. That’s due to change.

Much like Watson, Wayne makes no effort to intermingle genres, he just pens Texas juke-joint country swing music and he does a damned good job of it.

Now sometimes with ninebullets I find myself feeling the need to put more words in a post. More description. More back story. Sometimes though, in hindsight, I feel as if I muddied the waters more than anything and I *will not* do that to this album. I’m gonna post three songs and they’ll describe and define this album better than words ever could. So, check out this ex-Marine outta Austin, Texas.

Readers: What album should I buy next?

Wayne Hancock – Jump Blues
Wayne Hancock – Throwin’ Away My Money
Wayne Hancock – Working at Working

Wayne Hancock’s Official Site, Wayne Hancock on myspace, Buy Viper of Melody

EDIT: Turns out today in Wayne’s birthday. Happy Birthday!

REPOST: HILLGRASS BLUEBILLY ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS: HIRAM & HUDDIE

I am reposting this because when I originally posted about it back in November the album was next to impossible to acquire. As of today it can easily be purchased from Amazon.

I’ll be honest. I’m not really too into tribute albums. I mean, they usually have their high points but when you take them as a whole they tend to feel mailed in or uninspired.

Such is not the case with this particular tribute album, and while I am sure there have been no shortage of tribute albums to Hank Sr. or Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, I am sure there hasn’t ever been one quite like this. For one, check out the take no prisoner’s, my way or fuck you contributing artists. With acts like Scott H. Biram, Possessed By Paul James, Bob Log III, Jawbone, Wayne “The Train” Hancock and Soda taking part you know these aren’t just gonna be mere remakes of classics. For another thing, take the folks putting it out- Hillgrass Bluebilly Entertainment. In what dealings I have had with these guys two things are for sure. They have as much passion about the whole punkass/deep blues scene as anyone, and if they are gonna do something they are gonna do it 100% all out. Taking all of that into account I had a hard time imagining how this particular tribute album couldn’t be awesome.

I was right.

Hiram and Huddie is a double cd tribute album, one disc being a tribute to Hank Sr. while the other is a tribute to Huddie Ledbetter. Both discs feature the same lineup of artists for the most part with each artist seeming to have been given complete freedom to do whatever they wanted with their tracks, and the bands used that freedom to make the tracks their own. Really, there isn’t a track to be skipped across either disc, but as with any compilation some tracks just stand out from the others.

Soda’s cover of Hank’s “Ramblin’ Man” is one such case. Sounding like it would have come from a drunken 1920’s New Orleans speakeasy, this track just begs for you hit repeat until the ink wears off the button. Scott Biram just seems like he was born to sing Sr.’s songs, and the soul of William Elliot Whitmore’s voice adds a richness to his songs that recording techniques in the original version’s time couldn’t capture. As good as all of these tracks are though, it’s Possessed By Paul James’ contributions that totally steal the show and his version of Lead Belly’s “The Bourgeois Blues” wears the “best song” crown.

“The Bourgeois Blues” was originally recorded by Ledbetter after he went to Washington, D.C. at the request of Alan Lomax to record a number of songs for the Library of Congress. After they had finished, they decided to go out with their wives to celebrate but were thrown out of numerous establishments for being an interracial party. The song rails against racism, classism, and discrimination in general.

It would be a shame for this album to get lost in the cracks only be rediscovered years later as a lost gem. Do yourself, Hillgrass Bluebilly, me and every single artist on this album a favor and buy it. Buy two. It’s that good. It’s easily gonna be the best compilation of the year.

Soda – Ramblin’ Man (Hank Sr.)
Scott H. Biram – Lost Highway (Hank Sr.)

William Elliott Whitmore – The Gallis Pole (Ledbetter)
Possessed By Paul James – Bourgeois Blues (Ledbetter)