Spotlight on Omnivore Records Part 2
We wrap up our tribute to Omnivore Records with a look at another great batch of releases!
The Rave-Ups - Tomorrow
Yes this is the band you know from their appearance in the film "Pretty in Pink" and their 1985 hit "Positively Lost Me." Reminiscing is fine but the Rave-Ups prove here that they are very much a going concern in 2022; in fact Tomorrow
is one of the strongest Americana albums released in this young year. The effort begins with the rollicking "So You Wanna Know the Truth?" where listeners get a first taste of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Terry Wilson's banjo picking skills, his notes adding a bit of down home to the otherwise rocking song. This is the original line-up of the band; along with Wilson are vocalist and guitarist Jimmer Podrasky, bass man Tommy Blatnik and drummer Timothy Jimenez. Podrasky employs a somewhat quirky vocal style on "Brigitte Bardot" as he stops and starts in unexpected places. Nearly an out of control barn dance, "Brigitte Bardot" reminds of something NRBQ might do. "Roll" owes a little to Tom Petty and the song has the hooks that Petty would come up with too. "She and He" is a delicate reflection on a faltering relationship where Podrasky adds to the song's overall sadness with weepy harmonica; to the contrary his harmonica playing on the bluesy "When I Write Your Name" is in-your-face bold. The set ends with "Tomorrow" where guest player Marty Rifkin flavors the cut with lots of pedal steel. The Rave-Ups reunited to make this stellar record and hopefully it will not be their last.
Steve Goodman - The Best of Steve Goodman
Omnivore has rereleased a lot of Steve Goodman material in the past but until now they have not issued a 'greatest hits' collection from the beloved singer/songwriter. Goodman's best-known song is "City of New Orleans," a cut popularized by Arlo Guthrie and covered by dozens including Willie Nelson. Here the classic is presented in demo form, performed solo, just Goodman and his acoustic guitar. Another oft-covered Goodman tune, a co-write with John Prine, is included too with a live take on the humorous "You Never Even Call Me by My Name." Popularized by Jimmy Buffett, "Banana Republics" is here, as are favorites such as "The Dutchman," "Video Tape," "Souvenirs" and the baseball rave-up "Go Cubs Go." Goodman passed away from leukemia in 1984.
The Left Banke - Strangers on a Train
The Left Banke burst on the scene with the big hit "Walk Away Renee" in 1966; along with "Pretty Ballerina" and other cuts from their early albums the group became one of the primary bands responsible for the 'baroque pop' sound. This set is a rerelease of the original album from 1986 (recorded though in 1978) with half a dozen songs from 2001 appended. Title cut "Strangers on a Train" kicks off the album and fans will note that the song could easily be something out of the 10cc catalog while cuts like "Heartbreaker" and the harmony-filled "Yesterday's Love" will resonate with fans of groups like the Hollies. The somewhat proggy, piano-driven "Airborne" and the melancholy "High Flyer" bookend the six tracks from 2001 and they are the best of the lot.
Lizard Music - Arizone!
You can be forgiven if you've never heard of this band. While having roots that go back all the way to 1989, Lizard Music had not until now released any new music in more than 25 years. "The Crow Flies" nods to psychedelic era Beatles while "Keystone Cops" sounds like something XTC might have done (XTC is an acknowledged influence on Lizard Music) while "Arizone!" is an odd but intriguing cut that includes whistling and a cough among its effects. "Laughing in the Face of Love" is trippy pop like you'd hear in the psychedelic '60s and set closer "Impossible" is once again Beatlesesque. Whether you've known this band since back in the day or are a total newbie it is pretty much assured that you'll be blown away by what you hear on Arizone
!, which is one of those records that reveals its secrets slowly upon repeat play.