Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n19)
Rick On The Records - by Rick Zeigler
posted: Sept. 21, 2007
REVEREND PEYTON'S BIG DAMN BAND-THE GOSPEL ALBUM
After two fine full-length albums, the Indiana-born Reverend and his band have now delivered a beautiful 8-song EP of gospel tunes, the first in a series of three planned EPs. As with their previous work, The Gospel Album purveys hill-country blues with panache and precision. In the informative liner notes, the Reverend professes his long-time love for these tunes, and it shows in the performances. The EP starts with an original, "Blow That Horn, " a tribute to the fife and drum music of the south (you can still find this stuff on albums by Othar Turner). Opening with a martial drum beat by Jaymie Peyton, the Reverend's national steel guitar joins in, followed by Breezy's washboard percussion.
The Reverend then sings of the power of music to tear down walls of various kinds. One immediately notices the continued progression of the Reverend's national steel prowess, to the point where it is often hard to focus on the other elements of the music, good as they may be. The rest of the album consists of traditional tunes, but with very nice original touches. "Tell All The World John" has a wonderful country-shuffle beat, and it employs call-and-response vocals (a rarity in the Big Damn Band canon) to nice effect. Even better, their version of the overly familiar "Rock Island Line" provides fresh interest. The usually secular focus of the song is replaced by a sacred one, as the Reverend focuses on the religious verses of the tune. The EP concludes with an instrumental version of "Amazing Grace". The Reverend uses only his national steel to convey the beauty of this classic, taking it at a pace appropriate to funerals at which it has been performed. A word also needs to be said about the exquisite packaging of the album. Encased in a square tin with old-fashioned artwork and a facsimile "aged" booklet, the care taken to convey the spirit of this music is very obvious. Indiana can be proud to count this band as one of its own, and as the Reverend's own never-ending tour continues its way across the country (and the world), everyone can share in the old-time glory that is the Big Damn Band.
JOHNNY CASH-THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW DVD
Another posthumous Johnny Cash release? Haven't there been enough of these already? Well, not when you look at what we have here. The Johnny Cash Show aired on network television from 1969-1971. Bootleg copies of the show have been floating around the music world for ages, but now we have the real thing. The DVDs consist of 64 performances culled from 58 episodes, restored in beautiful color, and mesmerizing in their greatness. Of course, there's lots of Johnny to be had here, with all of his big hits present and accounted for. What makes this DVD release so additionally enticing, however, is its focus on the performances of his guests. How about Nashville Skyline-era Bob Dylan? How about Dylan and Cash performing together!? And then there's a young Joni Mitchell in a breathtaking duet with Cash. Cutting a wide swath through the music world, Johnny also brings out artists such as Louis Armstrong, Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys, Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, the Carter Family, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stevie Wonder, Loretta Lynn, James Taylor, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kris Kristofferson (who also "hosts" the DVD), and many, many more. And you know that with Johnny as the overseer, no one is about to turn in middling versions of their songs. "Intense" is the most apt description for these performances. Highlights are many, but for this viewer two segments are worth the entire price of the set. First, Ray Charles' gospel-soul drenched version of "Ring Of Fire" must be heard and seen by music lovers of all stripes. Second, Derek and the Dominoes (with Eric Clapton) are captured in one of their only filmed appearances during their too-brief career. What's more, Eric is then joined by Johnny and an unbelievably spry Carl Perkins, all trading licks in a lengthy jam. In sum, this is one of the best music DVDs (along with volume one of The Old Grey Whistle Test) you can possibly own. Don't pass it by.
Rick Zeigler, along with his wife, Jeanne, owns Indy CD and Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Avenue. Back in his musician days, his band opened for the likes of U2, XTC, Gang Of Four, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, and, um, Flock Of Seagulls, among others. You can read all of Rick's reviews at www.indycdandvinyl.com. Email your music questions and comments to rick@BroadRippleGazette.com