CD reviews: Incubus, Barbara Carr, A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
HQ Live Special Edition/Legacy
When the rock band Incubus set out to celebrate its 20th year together, the band members decided to do things a bit differently.
Incubus rented out an art gallery on La Brea Boulevard in Los Angeles and set up shop to promote its latest album, “If Not Now, When?”
They then invited a small groups of fans to come hear the band perform not only the album but other Incubus hits as well, filming and recording the performances.
At the same time, the band streamed the week-long residency out to the world via the Internet.
“HQ Live” collects the best performances from that social experiment and gives any Incubus fan who may have missed the event a chance to hear some of what went down.
Fans likely will want to splurge on the special edition version of the live album, because it gives the listener a dozen more songs than the regular version.
The DVD is the real prize here, though. Watching the band perform in the relatively small space surrounded by fans makes for an intimate experience, even while watching on a TV.
Notable performances include “Wish You Were Here,” “Nice to Know You” and “If Not Now, When?”
There are any number of ways to promote a new album, but Incubus should get credit for doing things a lot differently and succeeding while doing so.
Key Tracks: “Wish You Were Here,” “Nice To Know You,” “If Not Now, When?”
Keep the Fire Burning/Catfood
Barbara Carr is one of those true blues lifers; the ones who get the music in their bloodstream and keep it there like some dormant virus.
Initially trained to sing in her church choir, Carr soon discovered secular music and initially formed her own band, The Petites.
She later joined the band of St. Louis blues legend Oliver Sain.
Carr has been a solo artist since 1984, and while her name might not be as familiar to folks as others, from the first note out of her mouth there is no mistaking Carr’s passion for the genre.
On her latest release, “Keep the Fire Burning,” Carr strives to do just what that title implies with 11 songs that showcase her husky voice.
This is the same sort of old-school blues one would expect to hear in a smoky roadhouse on some lonesome stretch of highway.
Almost every song on the album features some great horn parts, and the production is such that a listener can enjoy Carr’s vocals and still hear the underlying music.
Particularly good is “Hold On to What You Got,” which features album producer Johnny Rawls singing a duet with Carr.
If you’re a fan of the kind of blues music that puts the “B” in R&B, then Carr’s music might be right up your alley.
Key Tracks: “Hanging on by a Thread,” “Keep the Fire Burning,” “Hold On to What You Got”
We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash/Legacy
It has been almost a decade since Johnny Cash left this world, but the memory of the Man in Black burns as bright as ever.
In April, an impressive list of musicians gathered at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas, to celebrate what would have been Cash’s 80th birthday.
The event, emceed by Texan Matthew McConaughey, featured artists such as Brandi Carlile, Shelby Lynne, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Lucina Williams and Sheryl Crow, all performing the songs that made Cash a country legend.
The resulting release, “We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash,” presents the evening’s performances in CD and DVD form.
Backed by a band that features Don Was, Buddy Miller, Kenny Aronoff, Ian McLagan and Greg Leisz, the musicians selected to perform here are obviously huge fans of Cash’s work.
Highlights include Carlile’s surprisingly strong take on “Folsom Prison Blues,” The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ rollicking cover of “Jackson” and Williams’ stark and stripped down interpretation of the Nine Inch Nails tune “Hurt.”
The DVD also includes two bonus performances by Nelson and McConaughey and a few short features of the artists discussing Cash’s influence, as well as showing how this once-in-a-lifetime show came together.
For any Johnny Cash fan, this is a concert well worth checking out.
Key Tracks: “Jackson,” “Wreck of the Old 97,” “Hurt”
By Devin Grant