One of Americana's nobility wanders back through Greenville. Do we have to remind ourselves that Jim Lauderdale has toured, recorded or done projects with Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Ralph Stanley and Robert Hunter? His skills on guitar, vocal harmonies and magical songwriting are why those folks love him, and so do we. Check out Southern gentleman Jim and be glad.
GARLAND JEFFREYS has been making provocative, personally charged urban rock and roll since the late 1960s. He started out in Greenwich Village performing highly respected songs that reflected on life as a multi-racial man in America. ‘14 Steps To Harlem,’ the third album in six years by this ‘beloved rock-soul-reggae singer-songwriter’ (New York Times) has released on his own label Luna Park Records. Produced with James Maddock with core band members Mark Bosch, Charly Roth, Brian Stanley and Tom Curiano, guest spots by Brian Mitchell and Ben Stivers, a gorgeous duet with daughter Savannah and a radiant violin solo by Laurie Anderson, this record delivers what fans have come to expect from Jeffreys: edgy immediacy and literate, emotionally raw lyrics coupled with a still supple voice capable of singing in a practically limitless number of styles.
Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades, with five Grammy wins and over 20 acclaimed albums. For his latest project, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, the Blues Hall of Famer traveled to Memphis with his friend, renowned Grammy Award winning producer Steve Jordan, to make a classic soul album with Hi Rhythm, the band that helped create that sound. Set inside an old theatre, the funky Royal Studios looks much as it did when Al Green was cutting those classics for Hi Records. Guitarist Teenie Hodges has passed away, but his brothers Rev. Charles Hodges (organ and piano) and Leroy "Flick" Hodges (bass), along with cousin Archie "Hubbie" Turner (keyboards), were still there.
Less obviously haunted by the influence of George Clinton than its predecessor, Damn still sounds rooted in early-70s soul. There are nods towards the luscious, harmony-laden mellowness of the Stylistics and the Chi-Lites (opener Blood even features a warped version of the kind of spoken-word monologue found on the latter’s single Have You Seen Her?), to the stentorian bellow that opens Curtis Mayfield’s If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Gonna Go and to the dense sound of psychedelic soul – by way of Outkast – on Pride. If it seems a more straightforward listen than To Pimp a Butterfly, there’s a cheering sense that this doesn’t equate to a lessening of musical ambition. There’s none of that album’s wilfully jarring quality – its sudden, anxious musical lurches and abrupt, short-circuiting leaps between genres – but the tracks on Damn still feel episodic and expansive: XXX alone goes from massed harmony vocals to a downbeat rap over glitching, stuttering samples, to a thrilling moment where it explodes in a mass of sirens, screeching tyres and heaving basslines, to a dramatic drop in tempo and an understated guest vocal from Bono in the space of four minutes. Rather than angsty disruptions, there’s a more subtle sense of disquiet here. The heavy-lidded drift of Yah would sound relaxed were it not for the presence of two grating bass notes that fit with the lyrics’ prickly unease, where images of contented family life rub up against “theories and suspicions”. Meanwhile, on the brilliant Pride, troubled lyrical shifts from modesty and confusion to self-belief – “I can’t fake humble because your ass is insecure” – are mirrored by a rap electronically treated so that its pitch gradually speeds up and slows down amid the woozy atmospherics and falsetto vocals. Elsewhere, there’s brilliant, dexterous storytelling on Duckworth – the saga of how Lamar’s father narrowly avoided being murdered by a criminal called Anthony, complete with an eye-popping, no-spoilers twist – and another demonstration of Lamar’s nonpareil ability to write songs about the pressures of wealth and success that somehow manage to elicit the listener’s sympathy rather than a roll of the eyes.
by Vincent Harris, photos by Josh Weeks. Gene Berger’s musical passions have helped keep Horizon Records alive through economic downturns and a digital revolution When Gene Berger opened Horizon Records in 1975, setting up shop at 347 S. […]
by Hannah Hays Jack White’s Third Man Records may be the South’s most recognizable record store, but smaller vinyl Valhallas can be found all across the region. To name our five favorites, we asked the help of Reed Watson, a co-manager of Florence, […]
by Donna Isbell Walker, photo by Mykal McEldowney. Record stores and the vinyl albums on their shelves may feel like a relic of 1975. In 2015, when it seems everyone carries around a cell phone or tablet stuffed with hundreds of their favorite […]
by Diane Daniel, photos by Selina Kok This city of 62,000 halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta took a huge hit when its bustling textile manufacturing industry moved overseas in the 1960s. A decade later, then-Mayor Max Heller, a Holocaust refugee […]
by Tanja Laden, photo by Melanie Griffin. Halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte, in the heart of the Deep South, there’s an unassuming but charming town filled with good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality. Greenville, South Carolina is home […]
by Jordana Megonigal What do you get when you take a college dropout, add 30 years in a rapidly changing industry and continually declining market, and mix well with local artists, businesses and a little bit of vinyl? Tweet […]
by Mike Foley, photos by George Gardner. Posted Friday, November 18, 2005 As corporate headquarters go, the stuffy room at the back of Horizon Records is more utilitarian than showplace. Vertical rows of vinyl record albums line the floor and cover […]
by Jim DuPlessis, photos by Owen Riley, Jr. Horizon Records: 20 Years Of Music. Gene Berger didn’t think twice back when he agreed in 1981 to carry a single in his Greenville record store by an unsigned band from Athens, GA called R.E.M. Tweet […]