This page is part of an opinionated overview of "alt.country" music, with record reviews by me, Joe Sixpack... Naturally, it's a work in progress, and quite incomplete, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.
This is the second page covering the letter "G"
Tompall Glaser & The Glaser Brothers "The Best Of..." (Collector's Choice, 2001)
A top-notch retrospective of this lower-rung '60s/'70s Nashville act... The Glasers came to Music City under the auspices of Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash... They sang backup on stage and in the studio for various artists before getting a shot at a 'solo' career in '66. They did alright, sneaking into the Top 30 with fair regularity, starting off as a folk-country trio, and gradually edging into a more classic style. Then Tompall, the group's driving creative force, started getting a little bit weird, pioneering, in fact, the rebellious "outlaw" sound that Waylon & Willie & The Boys took to the bank later in the decade... This disc has got it all, from their soft-edged Nashville singles to their early '70s forays into an increasingly rough'n'tumble style. Notable here is their cover version of John Hartford's "Gentle On My Mind," a song that the Glasers invested in when they set up their own publishing house... When Glen Campbell took the tune to the top of the charts, the Glaser's struck gold, and then turned around to invest their profits in a recording studio, and it was the relaxed, rowdy atmosphere at "Hillbilly Central" that served as the incubation chamber for the young, druggie rebels that were challenging the conservatism of the Nashville establishment. You can hear the upside and the down of this new freedom: Tompall's rowdy, raunchy "Put Another Log On The Fire (The Male Chauvinist's National Anthem)" and the scary "Texas Law Sez" were early outlaw high points -- these are accompanied here by decidely lesser recordings, such as his drunken versions of "T For Texas" and "The Wild Side Of Life," which are a nice nod to tradition, but a little sad to listen to now. All in all, though, a great collection, revealing an important missing link between the old Nashville Sound and the new vigorousness that the freaks brought into the mix. Plus, there's thankfully very little overlap between this disc and the Bear Family collection reviewed below...
Tompall Glaser "The Outlaw" (Bear Family, 1992)
What, exactly, constitutes an "outlaw" country record? A willingness to get drunk and/or stoned while recording, or a devotion to old-fashioned hillbilly tunes, when the rest of Nashville is going pop? In the 1970s, Tompall Glaser of the Glaser Brothers, possessed of modest vocal talent but a long track record as a sideman and a flash of stardom early in the decade, set up shop with his own production studio, Hillbilly Central, and played host to Waylon and Willie and the boys, and puffed a few as he recorded an album or two of his own. The thump of the bass is there, but for the most his perfromances on these songs are a bit lackluster; a pity, since there's some really interesting material to be heard, songs by Bill Chapell, Mickey Newbury, Jessi Colter and Bobby Charles, and other semi-marginal figures. An interesting footnote to both Glaser's commercial career and to the '70s "outlaw" scene, but ultimately -- as Glaser himself says in the liner notes -- not music you'd go back and listen to often. (Ironic note: Jimmy Bowen, who helped sculpt the sound of country pop in the '80s, came in to produce Glaser's first solo album on the ABC label, in 1977 -- one of Bowen's first big gigs in Nashville! )
Tompall Glaser "The Rogue" (Bear Family, 1992)
Tompall Glaser "My Notorious Youth -- Hillbilly Central #1" (Bear Family, 2006)
Tompall Glaser "Another Log On The Fire -- Hillbilly Central #2" (Bear Family, 2006)
Tompall Glaser "Outlaw To The Cross" (Clint Miller Music, 2007)
An all-gospel outing from this notorious ne'er-do-well...
Tompall & The Glaser Brothers "Lovin' Her Was Easier (1981)/After All These Years (1982)" (Collector's Choice, 2006)
A welcome reissue of two long out-of-print albums, 1981's Lovin' Her Was Easier and After All These Years, from 1982 -- the last two albums from this on again/off again brother act. In the late 1960s, the Glaser Brothers emerged out from the shadows of their various benefactors -- Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash -- and became a reasonably successful working band. Things fragmented in the early 'Seventies and each brother went his own way, with Tompall Glaser becoming an icon of the shambling "outlaw" country scene. These records came out after years of individually muddling along, until finally the time seemed right for the trio to reunite. Their version of Kris Kristofferson's "Lovin' Her Was Easier" was a surprise hit in '81, and led to the group's first full album in nearly a decade. It's a nice record, filled with covers of numerous old country standards, songs like "Busted," "Mansion On A Hill," a cover of Tom Paxton's "Last Thing On My Mind," and a tune or two from Tompall's solo years. Shorn of the outlaw posturing and the countrypolitan pretense of their earlier work, the Glasers delivered a nice, low-key set of straightforward country ballads -- and Tompall's vocal likeness to his onetime boss, Marty Robbins, was never more apparent. The followup record was the group's swansong -- it barely dented the charts, and they went splitsville again not long after it came out. But it's a nice record, too, of a piece with the first, even though the songs were of a more recent vintage. This disc is certainly worth checking out if you like country harmony songing, and songs sung simply and straight from the heart -- not the greatest stuff ever, but still pretty darn nice.
Katie Glassman "Snapshot" (2012)
(Produced by Katie Glassman & Yaniv Salzberg)
An ambitious, jazz-oriented acoustic album that draws on Ms. Glassman's history as an old-timey fiddler, as well as her obvious love of swing music, and in particular the jazz violin of iconic musicians such as Sven Asmussen, Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti, along with a hint of westernswing/country cohorts like Bob Wills and Benny Martin. As a vocalist, Glassman often bears a striking resemblance to the tweety-bird voiced cabaret star Rose Murphey, and like Ms. Murphey, she's willing to push the envelope musically, letting befuddled listeners fend for themselves. I'd have to say, several of the songs on here go a bit overboard, and -- depending on your tastes and tolerance for challenging material -- might get irritating. The level of musicianship is quite high, though, so from a jazzy, technical perspective, there's a lot to chew on, and the more cerebral songs are balanced by plenty of pure, sweet swing. Fans of fiddler Elana Fremerman/James (and her old band, the Hot Club Of Cowtown) might wanna check this out as well. Bluegrassers Sam Bush and Sally Van Meter chime in on a couple of songs, though most of the musicians are basically unknowns, which is a very good thing in my book.
Dave Gleason's Wasted Days "Wasted Days" (Well Worn, 2002)
A nicely-textured, soulful alt-country jam-fest, featuring veteran picker Dave Gleason, of the now-glamorously-defunct Bay Area Mod-punk outfit, the Loved Ones. Backed by a rock-solid ensemble, Gleason blends a sleazy rock vibe into soul-tinged hillbilly romps, tipping his thrift-store Stetson towards British R&B acts like the Stones and Small Faces, and even American southern rockers like Dickie Betts and the Allman Brothers, who are normally verboten in the current canon of cool. The inevitable Gram Parsons comparisons are borne out by the inclusion of "Funky String Quartet," a rarely-heard Parsons demo tune that Gleason learned off of a friend's tightly-guarded bootleg tape. The shambolic song wards off the possible objections of rock fans or hillbilly purists, defiantly declaring, "how can you really say what's country music?" as the band performs with the relaxed assurance of savvy players who could care less whether the kids think they're cool or not -- precisely the right attitude needed to make music that matters. Pedal steel player Joe Goldmark anchors the band with an authentic country touch, delivering one of the most elegant, compact performances of his career. There are a few iffy moments, but on the whole this is a very satisfying, richly pleasant album, one of the strongest roots records of recent years. Recommended!
Dave Gleason's Wasted Days "Midnight California" (Well Worn, 2004)
(Produced by Wasted Days)
Dave Gleason's Wasted Days "Just Fall To Pieces" (Well Worn, 2007)
Dave Gleason's Wasted Days "Acoustic Sessions" (JH Music, 2009)
Jeremy Gluck "I Knew Buffalo Bill" (Diesel Motor, 1987)
An indie/Goth-y take on roots music and Americana, from an "all-star" band of art-rock outsiders. led by Jeremy Gluck of the Barracudas, along with Nikki Sudden, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Epic Soundtracks and Rowland S. Howard of the Birthday Party. It's a bit too rock'n'mope oriented for me, with hints of Nick Cave... Interesting, I suppose, but I'm not sure these guys really "get" country music, per se, although my criteria and theirs are probably pretty different. Worth checking out, I suppose, though it doesn't do much for me...
Alt.Country Albums - More Letter "G"
Hick Music Index