Tag Archives: Loudon Wainwright


4 May

Image of Lucy (2010)

The reason I didn’t get around to posting anything a couple of days ago is that I was watching the eponymous Lucy Wainwright Roche perform at The Stables theatre, Milton Keynes, as opening act for her  father, Loudon Wainwright III. And very fine they both were too – engaging, witty performers (Lucy threw in Springsteen’s Hungry Heart as an audience singalong!).  At the gig I bought her not-yet-formally-released follow-up album (and another made with her mum, Suzzy Roche (of The Roches) but haven’t really had time to listen to them yet, so I’ll feature Lucy first. Along with Blair Dunlop’s Blight and Blosson (featured last month), this was, absolutely one of my two favourite albums of 2012.

Lucy W-R has a beguiling, clear, warm voice and persona and, for this collection, wrote a bunch of direct,  songs of love and loss and travel.  The instrumentation is understated and sympathetic, featuring various family members.  The ten-self-penned numbers are supplemented by a cover of Paul Simon’s’ America’ and one by Elliott Smith (‘Say Yes’) sung as a duet with Ira Glass but it’s her own songs that are the standouts. Wonderfully, two of my three favourites* were part of her set a couple of nights ago:  ‘Open Season‘ a wistful love song evoking the redevelopment of  the run-down seaside resort of Coney Island in her native Brooklyn and The Worst Part – one of the most touching break-up songs I’ve heard. These extracts don’t do it justice:

“no one likes to find the one who
they thought was lovely was a flash in the pan
survey the scene well the break was clean
hell that may be true and yet the losses were grand

“you seem to have found a way to bring me down
to make me see just how the problem is mine
if you would like to be a person making me
feel worse well you can get behind me in line”

“and the worst part is oh the worst part is
oh the very worst part is i will always love you anyway”.

I’ll write about the new album (‘There’s A Last Time For Everything’) shortly. I’ll also get round to covering her two early EPs too because  I think more people ought to get acquainted with Lucy Wainwright Roche’s music.  Find out more at:  http://lucywainwrightroche.com/

*btw, the favourite she didn’t include live was the magnificent A&E – about the British NHS no less.


Kate and Anna McGarrigle

9 Apr


Unless/until any Amazon lawyers tell me I’ve transgressed their  terms and conditions, I’m posting a review I contributed to their site back in 2006 about one of my all-time favourite albums:

This album first appeared on the Warner label in 1976. Prog rock was at it’s most pretentious, the first stirrings of punk were registering in the UK music press. And then this album by a pair of Canadian sisters appeared out of the blue. One had been married to Loudon Wainwright and their stuff had been covered by Maria Mulduar and Linda Rondstadt – but hey, not a lot of street cred in that at the time in the commuter towns to the north west of London!

There was a cracking review of this album in ZigZag magazine – so, as a 17 year old, I bought it from Record House in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

(Bless ’em, they were enlightened enough in their marketing to give spotty youth, like me, who used their shop as a convenient rendezvous and heated shelter, a 10% discount card so that when we had enough to buy stuff, we went to them – thus making us feel like privileged customers, which ensured our puppy-like loyalty and ensured that the store was full so that casual browsers thought it was a happening and go-to place – which, of course, it became!).

I can remember playing this at school (probably in between others who were into Gong or Eddie and the Hot Rods (it was that kind of year – you could watch the Clash one week and Stackridge the next!) – and can remember the stunned silence. People who would shortly be clad in bondage trousers and safety pins and others wearing tea-cosy hats and kaftans united in listening to banjo, fiddle and accordion music – and those stunning harmonies.

More than thirty years on, this remains one of the best debut recordings ever. The simplicity and authenticity of the production by Joe Boyd focus attention on the songs which are quite simply awesome: ‘Heart Like a Wheel’ and ‘Talk to Me of Mendocino’ are definitive versions while ‘Kiss and say Goodbye’ and ‘Go Leave’ are warm, humane, touching and emotionally direct.

Even the covers of the traditional ‘Travellin’ on for Jesus’ and Wainwright’s ‘Swimming Song’ are better than many artists achieve in their whole career.

I have yet to meet anyone who’s listened to this album and found it anything other than great! The McGarrigles have never appeared to take the blindest bit of notice of musical fashion – and this attitude has clearly set up kate’s kids Martha and Rufus to have musical wisdom beyond their years!

You will not regret owning this album.

I stand by what I wrote then. If you don’t own this, go out and buy it.