An Anglo-American Effort

Originally posted July 4, 2007

I’ve tried for the past few days to come up with something utterly suitable for sharing on Independence Day. I mentally sorted through album titles and group names, trying to find something that fits the tenor of the holiday. It’s been tougher than I thought it would be.

I pondered Paul Revere & The Raiders, but I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have anything all that interesting by the group to share. I’ve got a greatest hits album on vinyl that’s likely in pretty good shape – I got it new sometime in the late 1960s and haven’t played it that often, as PR&R never really grabbed me that much. I guess I should look more closely to see if there’s anything on the record that’s noteworthy, but not today.

In the spirit of this evening’s anticipated activities, I thought about José Feliciano’s 1970 album Fireworks, and I was surprised to realize that I don’t own it. I recall my pal Rick having a copy back around the time the record came out, and I had thought it was in the stack of records he gave me in November of 1974, when I was housebound after an auto accident. The stack included albums by Quincy Jones; Blood, Sweat & Tears; the Association; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and two by the Bee Gees. But no Feliciano.

The process of digging for the two records – the one by PR&R that I do have and the one by Feliciano that I don’t – led me to ponder the lists I consult when I think about music. I have a log of the LPs – the count is currently about 2,950, a few of which the Texas Gal contributed to the collection when we merged households. I have a log of our CD’s, which right now number about 660.

And I have a list that I put together about fifteen years ago of LPs I want to buy. That list runs about thirty pages, with many of the entries lined through with a notation of “CD,” meaning I no longer seek the vinyl as I have the CD.

Nor am I as driven to find records on the list as I once was. Part of that, I am sure, is that I no longer live within a mile of Cheapo’s, the massive music store on Lake Street in south Minneapolis. It used to be a Best Buy store, and the large basement is devoted to more vinyl than I’ve seen anywhere else in the past fifteen years. When I lived nearby, the vinyl was located in the back third of the main floor, and due to my thrice-weekly (at least) visits, I had as good a knowledge of the vinyl inventory as any of the clerks. That ended once I moved out of the neighborhood and I got there maybe once every month. Now that we live in St. Cloud, I get there maybe once a year.

And for that reason – and probably because of the ease of buying things online and the convenience of buying re-releases on CD instead of the original vinyl – I don’t look at the “want list” all that often.

I do recall the nights I spent putting it together. I surrounded myself with reference books as I sat at my old Macintosh – I’d gotten it used at a garage sale – trying to decide from numerous reviews which LPs were worth seeking out. I look at the list now, and my tastes have altered enough in the past fifteen years that I shake my head at some of the entries.

And then there was the first time I was able to delete an album from the list after purchasing it. It was a Monday in December 1998, two days after the Great Blues Bonanza. I’d been making my way idly through the country albums at Cheapo’s when I came across an LP with very odd artwork: a very realistic painting of a buffalo skull with a human heart painted on it, mounted atop what looked like a marble pillar. It took me aback. Then I saw the printing across the top of the jacket: “Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith: Evidence.”

That jogged my memory. I’d read about the record in the Rolling Stone Album Guide, which gave it four out of five stars. So I bought it. It turned out to be marvelous, a blending of country, pop, folk and rock that the two singers recorded almost as an afterthought in 1989, with twelve of the thirteen tracks recorded in Austin, Texas, and the last recorded in London. Not only is the album utterly enjoyable for its songwriting, production and performances, but it also was my introduction to the two musicians, both of whom remain among my favorites today.

(I admit leaning more these days toward Smith than to Hewerdine, whose career began with the British group The Bible. I find more satisfaction in Smith’s blend of country, rock and folk than I do in Hewerdine’s melancholy pop. But both are fine musicians, and the world could do much worse than to pay more attention to the two of them.)

So, as I could not find anything today in the collection that represented as well as I would like the separation from Great Britain that we celebrate on Independence Day, I thought I would share an album that stands as an example of Anglo-American cooperation: Evidence by Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith.

Track listing:
All I Want (Is Everything)
Under The Darkest Moon
Reminds Me (A Little Of You)
South by South-West
These Chains
The First Chill of Winter
Out of This World
Love is a Strange Hotel
Evidence
Oil on the Water
Tell Me Why
Who, What, Where and Why?
A Town Called Blue

Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith – Evidence [1989]

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