BluesWax Rating: 7 out of 10
Walking The Tightrope
Recorded at the Douglas Corner Café in Nashville, Colin Linden brings us Still Live. With a passing of thirty years since he released Colin Linden Live, it is due time for another offering of live music. Walking the tightrope between country and blues, Linden brings on board a couple of familiar faces from Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, bassist John Dymond and drummer Gary Craig, to perform favorites, old and new. Also with the band is legendary organist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham. At times, the sound comes off as a little bit muddled, but as the liner notes say “what you hear is pretty well what happened, with very little ‘fixing.’”
With the exception of a bluesy, yet funky cover of Willie Dixon’s “Who’s Been Talking?,” the album is composed of all originals. Spooner Oldham accentuates the song on organ, but Linden brings it on the slide guitar and vocals to make the song gel. Also, much enjoyed is the slide on folky “Sugar Mine.” This one is just so soft and calming and I love the poetic lyrics. While on the subject of poetic lyrics, it would be a crime not to mention “John Lennon in New Orleans,” a slow, beautiful song from Lennon’s point of view to a girl he may have met in the Big Easy. Another thing that makes this song pop is the interesting use of borrowed lyrics from Beatles songs to be rebuilt into this brand new song, like “Help me please. I want to hold your hand. Sleepwalk with me tonight.”
No matter how many times I hear “Between the Darkness and the Light of Day,” I can’t help but think of Elvis Costello. Not only does this powerful ballad from a soldier’s point of view sound like a long lost Costello tune, but Linden’s voice has that same nasally essence that is also characteristic of Costello’s as well.
Texas two-step friendly, “Too Late to Holler” and “From the Water,” with its bluegrass influences, are both great examples of how blues music can dip into other genres and undoubtedly retain its blues identity. I’m also a big fan of “Big Mouth,” a honky-tonkin’ favorite, originally from the album Big Mouth. Linden picks a catchy rhythm and dishes out some smoky slide to make this an excellent choice to lead the whole set off with.
This one is worth picking up if you are already a die-hard Linden fan. But for the casual listener, I would recommend starting out with one of his many fine studio albums, like From the Water or Big Mouth first.
Phillip Smith is a contributing writer at BluesWax.
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