A Grateful Dead concert, recorded New Years ’76 at The Cow Palace, was recently released by Rhino Records. The sound quality is excellent. Though there are thousands of bootlegs on sites like archive.org, the majority don’t sound half as crisp as this. Like the majority of Grateful Dead concert recordings, this one has it’s hits and misses. But, when you roll with the punches, sometimes you get hit real good. Here are some highlights for me: Mama Tried (disc 1). I just love this old Merle Haggard song. The lyrics: “I turned 21 in prison, doing life without parole. No one could steer me right. Mama Tried. Mama Tried.” are just classic. Scarlet Begonias (disc 2). I have never heard a version of this song played like this. When you listen to it, you will instantly notice that the guitar hook that Jerry Garcia usually plays is absent from the song completely. I have listened to older versions of Scarlet Begonias and newer ones too. But never without this signature repeating hook. For that reason alone, Dead Heads should check this out recording. Additionally, Donna Jean plays a minor role in this concert (which should please almost all Dead fans). Overall, the CD is enjoyable, though I don’t feel it can compare to concert recordings from 1972 or 1977- my favorite years for Dead recordings. However, it is among the best concerts from ’75-’76 era. Overall, I prefer Europe ’72, Reckoning, and Hundred Year Hall to this recording.
Vieux Farka Toure inherits the Malian blues-guitar torch from his famed Grammy winning father, Ali Farka Toure on his self-title debut album, which was released on February 13th. The music is really fresh, has influences that range from Malian guitar to reggae and include Ali’s final recordings. You can order a copy of the CD.
In case you are wondering whether Vieux is merely trying to profit off his father’s name or really has talent of his own, I would recommend checking out some of his solo performances (performance 1, performance 2, performance 3, performance 4) and his music video. And I am sure you will agree, Vieux is quite a talent. Welcome to the new superstar of Malian guitar.
Update 2/12/07: 10% of the proceeds from this album will be donated to Bee Sago, a UNICEF-affiliated organization, as part of Modiba’s “Fight Malaria” campaign. They hope to reach their goal of providing every pregnant woman and child in Toure’s home region of Niafunke with a treated mosquito net- the most effective preventative measure in the fight against malaria, Africa’s leading cause of infant mortality. Just another reason (though you really don’t need another) to pick up this album.
Update 2/18/07: New NPR Review of Vieux’s work.