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Spyboy


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Audio CD, August 11, 1998
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Biography

Already celebrated as a discoverer and interpreter of other artists’ songs, 12-time Grammy Award–winner Emmylou Harris has, in the last decade, become admired as much for her eloquently straightforward songwriting as for her incomparably expressive singing. On Hard Bargain, her third Nonesuch disc, she offers 11 original songs—three of them co-written with Grammy– and ... Read more in Amazon's Emmylou Harris Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 11, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Eminent Records
  • ASIN: B000009NTV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,289 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. My Songbird
2. Where Will I Be
3. I Ain't Living Long Like This
4. Love Hurts
5. Green Pastures
6. Deeper Well
7. Prayer In Open D
8. Calling My Children Home
9. Tulsa Queen
10. Wheels
11. Born To Run
12. Boulder To Birmingham
13. All My Tears
14. The Maker

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Most pop musicians in their 50s spend their stage time reflecting on past accomplishments. Emmylou Harris, on the other hand, is still moving forward, seeking new challenges and pushing into new musical territory. Always artistically restless, Harris has offered nearly a quarter century of interesting ideas. However, at age 51, she's creating some of the most lasting and moving music of her life. Fronting a band featuring the New Orleans rhythm section of drummer Brady Blade and bassist Darryl Johnson, and with alternative-country hero Buddy Miller on guitar, Harris presents daring music that is both dark in tone yet spiritually open-hearted. In doing so, she's managed to combine the progressive, provocative tension of 1996's Wrecking Ball with the tradition-based music of her earlier work. --Michael McCall

Review

Emmylou Harris has always zigged when the rest of the music world has zagged. But after doing country long before it was remotely cool, and then getting exiled by country radio along with virtually everyone else over 40, she seems more adept than ever at finding the seams between the formulas emanating from Nashville and the commercial no man's land, vaguely known as alternative country, outside the Nashville mainstream. -- The New York Times

Harris's cracked warble has often been imitated but, as her performance of the Nashville standard "Love Hurts" proves, rarely bettered. Elsewhere, there are renditions of songs from her last proper record, the sumptuously produced Wrecking Ball, like the rambling "Deeper Well" and the elegiac "Boulder to Birmingham." Happily, there's no prospect of a hoedown or a linedance in sight. -- New Musical Express

With Spyboy ... Harris reinvents a good part of her neotraditionalist past and brings a spiritual glow to everything she touches.… -- Rolling Stone

Customer Reviews

Emmylou sounds wonderful, singing in her distinctive voice the pangs and joys of life.
Frederick Rudofsky
I love Emmylou and her music, and now I have gained a profound respect for the musical abilities of Spyboy: Buddy Miller, Brady Blade and Daryl Johnson.
Dan Huth
She has always been at the forefront of defining and redefining the confluence of country, rock, and folk music.
Christopher P. Dunn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Christopher P. Dunn on December 23, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is an astonishing album -- not only does it capture the essence of who Emmylou Harris is (as a singer and songwriter), but it showcases her wonderfully as a live performer. Spyboy is a brilliant title for this live CD. The spyboy is the young lad who leads off the Mardis Gras parade, which is a great metaphor for Harris' career. She has always been at the forefront of defining and redefining the confluence of country, rock, and folk music.
Here, she and her band beautifully reinterpret songs that she has made into classics. My Songbird, a Jesse Winchester gem, is delivered in classic Harris style -- aching, plaintive, and with an air of resignation. It doesn't matter that the song is written in the first person and spoken by a man. This is a haunting and painful song about separation that only Harris could deliver so sweetly.
This theme of pain, separation, and moving on permeates this recording, and is exemplified by such songs as Daniel Lanois' Where Will I Be, the traditional Green Pastures, and her own composition about Gram Parsons, Boulder to Birmingham. But this is not sappy sentimental country-folk-rock. Instead, it is intelligent music making in the same way that is true of other performers such as Richard and Linda Thompson, Mary Black, or Mary Chapin Carpenter.
The aura cast by the musicians is somewhat ethereal, being clearly influenced by Daniel Lanois, long-time producer of U2's recordings, and of Bob Dylan's Oh Mercy. Lanois' influence on Harris is most pronounced in her Wrecking Ball recording, a style that overflows into this live concert. In fact, Harris sings two Lanois compositions, in addition to Deeper Well (a song I have yet to appreciate), which they co-wrote.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Frederick Rudofsky on September 12, 1998
Format: Audio CD
SPYBOY is a tremendous document of Emmylou Harris's musical journey with Buddy Miller, Daryl Johnson, and Brady Blade in the past two years on the momentum of her beautifully realized WRECKING BALL. She performs songs from throughout her career, the aching "Love Hurts" (a poignant duet with Miller) to the mad reverie of "Deeper Well." Of special note is Julie Miler's appearance on her own "All My Tears," a powerful gospel song with a drum beat that echoes the Cherokee tradition. Emmylou sounds wonderful, singing in her distinctive voice the pangs and joys of life. Buddy Miller, who produced this album and is a tremendous solo artist in his own right plays simply magificent guitar (I think only Richard Thompson would be able to show such range) and provides great harmonies to each song. And the rhythm section of Johnson and Blade is dynamic in the true sense of the word, bringing imagination and energy to each song-- Daniel Lanois' "The Maker" is a great example of their genius. In short, this is Emmylou at the heght of her powers, with a telepathic and exciting band playing memorable songs and having fun. For new fans and die-hard fans of this classy woman and her maverick sensibilities, this album is a must.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dan Huth on December 13, 2001
Format: Audio CD
From the heart-wrending beauty of the opening "My Songbird" to the brave jazz-like spiritual explorations of "The Maker," Spyboy stands as a masterpiece album, a fitting companion to and, indeed, an amplification of "Wrecking Ball." This is amazing music, and I, who have owned (and loved) almost everything Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, The Band, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty have recorded, would rank it among the many masterpieces of this group of artists. Sublime music can be found here, from beautiful born-again gospel to pure country to country-rock to out-and-out rock to rock-jazz fusion, all superbly played by the virtuoso band Spyboy, and all graced by Emmylou's heart-breakingly jagged soprano. Emmy can't reach all the high notes now, but the notes she can reach reverberate with a beauty almost beyond our world, and her striving after those now-unreachable highs is its own poignant comment on the aging process and the counteracting wisdom gained thereby. I love Emmylou and her music, and now I have gained a profound respect for the musical abilities of Spyboy: Buddy Miller, Brady Blade and Daryl Johnson.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on June 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Spyboy" is the name of the funky coutry-rock band that backs Emmylou Harris on this fine live album. The sound has much more in common with her recent Daniel Lanois collaboration "Wrecking Ball" than it does with her country roots. The musicians on the album are very good (especially crack guitarist Buddy Miller) and the surprise is that she allows them some solos and some instrumental jams. In between those tidbits, her voice is as strong as ever. Twenty-five years ago, this album probably would have found airplay on a mainstream rock radio stations next to songs by Jackson Browne and The Eagles. Fortunately, Emmylou is one artist who continues to insist upon challenging her audience.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
From the tremulous opening notes of the first track, Songbird, I knew this was going to be another Emmylou classic. Spyboy definitely is that but also much more. Every single song on this magnificent album is a treasure, from Songbird to The Maker. The band is perfectly in synch with Harris' voice, and so is the audience. All together these elements create a magical ambience that sticks in the mind.

My favorites on this breathtaking work includes her compelling live version of Green Pastures (with lovely male backing vocal), the most moving Calling My Children Home, done a capella with just male backing vocal (a devotional song of great power), the achingly beautiful Prayer in Open D where she sings solo, Boulder To Birmingham and her almost jazzy version of Daniel Lanois' The Maker with its complex arrangement.

As someone who as a rule do not like live albums, I can assure the prospective listener that Spyboy is a heavenly blend of beautiful songs and atmospherics to which the audience definitely contributes. The applause adds to the mood while her short introductions are just right. This is the closest I'll come to seeing her in concert, and it is a proper consolation. The CD quality and sound clarity are faultless.

I rate this album right up there with Emmylou's very best like Wrecking Ball, Red Dirt Girl, Roses In The Snow and A Cowgirl's Prayer. There is plenty of variety, from bluegrass gospel to the awesome droning rock guitars of Deeper Well and the straight country Tulsa Queen to the jazzy excursion on the Lanois song. I cannot recommend this album highly enough; it has given me hours of listening pleasure and has an uplifting effect on the spirit.
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