Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes
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Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes
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A collection of rare and never previously released recordings.
Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes marks the rebirth of Latent Recordings, the label created by the Cowboy Junkies to release their first two landmark albums, Whites Off Earth Now!! and The Trinity Session. Though they've already released a best-of package--Cowboy Junkies: Studio--this is somehow a more fitting tribute to the particular and peculiar vision of the Junkies' music. Comprised of one-offs, rare tracks, and lost demos culled from a decade of recording, it features all the elements that produce Cowboy Junkies junkies. They've never strayed far from their trademark formula, playing stripped-to-the-bones, kinda rockish, kinda countryish, kinda bluesy songs at a somnambulant pace and at room temperature. Even when they get a bit noisy, as on "I Saw Your Shoes," it's a sparse noise, made more by volume than by density. Part of what the Junkies have always done best is applying their aesthetic to songs lifted from others' fakebooks, and their rollicking run-through of Bob Dylan's "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and their slow-as-molasses lope through Jerry Garcia's "To Lay Me Down" stand among the album's highlights. And there's always the pleasure of Margo Timmons's distinctive voice, which carries much of the Junkies' appeal. Somehow she manages to sound both distant and intimate, kind of like a drowsy lover. Everything she sings sounds as if it's recorded in a vast, dark, and empty room, and she makes the most of it on "River Waltz" and "Sad to See the Season Go"--both lovely, lovely songs. If these are indeed the Cowboy Junkies' castoffs, it proves they're a band that can do no wrong. --Tod Nelson
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Then, I found myself re-watching "The River Wild" recently, which concludes with Cowboy Junkies' haunting song, "The Water is Wide". I had looked for this song for many years and couldn't seem to find it. I decided to look again and, voila! It's on this album! For me, that alone was worth the price of the album.
But, oh my goodness! There are so many great songs on here, I'm having a hard time picking a favorite. The music brings back fond memories of Cowboy Junkies earlier music, around the time of The Trinity Session album. If you are a fan of that era, I think you will agree that this "Rarities" album fits in perfectly! You won't be disappointed.
And, spoiler alert...there is a bonus track (track 12), My Father's House, that is absolutely lovely. I'm not sure if Margo Timmins was doing a sound check, a rehearsal, or what, but she sings this song without any instrumental accompaniment, and it's beautiful. In fact, I take back what I said, My Father's House is my favorite song on this album.
I'm just so glad I found this album!
"I Saw Your Shoes" has a nice, grungy guitar track, but most of these songs could easily have fit on "The Trinity Sessions" or "The Caution Horses." Lyrically speaking, "Rarities" has a few clunkers, and there are a couple of tunes that understandably hit the cutting room floor from other sessions. However, there are also some wonderful gems in this package. "Sad to See the Season Go" has a beautiful melody to it, and "A Few Simple Words" is as fresh and sincere as "Anniversary Song" off of "Pale Sun, Crescent Moon." Other highlights include "Love's Still There" and "River Waltz." And "Leaving Normal" is one of the best things Michael Timmins has ever written. The finest feature about this band, however, remains the cool but passionate voice of Margo Timmins, who manages to make even the occasional awkward turn of phrase sound heartfelt and real. Praise Margo! Long may the Junkies live.
Like in MILES FROM OUR HOME, their precedent recording, there is an hidden song at the end of the album. Let run your player after the tenth track " The Water Is Wide " and, after 30 seconds, you will hear Bruce Springsteen's " My Father's House " sung by Margo and.... the rest of the band for the last seconds. A curiosity.
The album presents a smart mixture of songs of the early period of the Band - the slow ones - and of the post LAY IT DOWN years - the not so slow ones -. Released after a relatively deceiving MILES FROM OUR HOME, RARITIES, B-SIDES AND SLOW, SAD WALTZES marks the end of 15 years of great music and I can only hope that the Cowboy Junkies will be able to offer us new musical trips as fascinating as those they have already released.
A CD for your library.
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