Thursday, 16 July 2015

Riding the Range

Riding the Range

the songs of Townes van Zandt
Riding the Range is the QE2 Activity Centre's own fundraising cd.  You can buy it directly from QE2 Activity Centre (that way every penny goes into Centre funds) or from Amazon and other online retail outlets.  You can even download it from iTunes.   Most of the songs were recorded especially for the project.  It has been described as "breathtaking", not once but twice.  I'd buy it.   Phil

There's a track list and some reviews below (including one translated from a Serbian website). This is from the sleevenotes:

The music of Townes Van Zandt is provocative, melancholy, soulful and soul-searching. It aches, it tells stories. Townes wore his heart on his sleeve. His songs - and the effect he had on people - gave him a disparate band of followers around the world.
This compilation has been carefully created by fans and admirers of Townes Van Zandt. £1.05 from every sale goes to benefit the QE2 Activity Centre and all of the artists involved have contributed their track for free. Phil Oates from the Centre and singer songwriter Michael Weston King masterminded the project and invited the artists to contribute, the result is breathtaking and there’s even a very rare Townes’ tune – written by Michael too.
 Dave Henderson, MOJO magazine

some reviews (more below)
"a tribute album bound for glory and our year end top ten . . . consistently excellent, even breathtaking"

"Thoroughly recommended"  Ralph McLean on Radio Ulster. 
as heard on Dermot O'Leary on BBC Radio 2, Gideon Coe on BBC Radio 6, Late Junction on BBC Radio 3, WMFU New York, BBC Radio Ulster and many more

you can order a copy directly from the Centre by sending a cheque or postal order for a minimum of £10 plus £2 p&p.  You can pay more if you wish!  You can buy it more cheaply at Amazon & elsewhere but buying it direct from the Centre means that the QE2 Activity Centre gets a better slice - and, lets face it, that is why all these fine artists have contributed their time & talents.  Cheques should be made payable to QE2 Activity Centre and sent to Riding the Range, QE2 Activity Centre, Manor Farm Country Park, Pylands Lane, Bursledon, Hampshire, SO31 1BH, UK. 

This is what is on the album:

The Songs Of Townes Van Zandt

The Magic Numbers ‘Quicksilver Dreams of Maria’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug) P Magic Numbers/Heavenly Recordings

Michael Weston King ‘Marie’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug) P MWK
Michael Weston King: Guitar and vocals
Alan Cook: Pedal steel guitar, harmonica, autoharp
Recorded by John Valenti and Alan Cook
Mixed by Gwyn Jones and MWK

Danny And The Champions Of The World ‘For The Sake Of The Song’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug) P Danny Wilson 
Danny Wilson: Singing, guitar, banjo

Dan Michaelson ‘I'll Be Here In The Morning’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug) P Dan Michaelson 
Dan Michaelson: vocal, guitar, piano
Horse: pedal steel

Peter Bruntnell ‘Second Lovers Song’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug) P Peter Bruntnell 
Peter Bruntnell: Vocals, guitar

Boo Hewerdine ‘Lungs’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Boo Hewerdine 
Boo Hewerdine: Vocals, all instruments except
Chris Pepper: Drums

the Mighty Stef featuring Shane MacGowan ‘Waitin' Round To Die’
Townes Van Zandt (EMI) P Firstborn Recordings
Shane MacGowan: Vocals
Stefan Murphy: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Daniel Fitzpatrick: Organ
Stephen Fanning: Bass
Michiel Hogerziel: Drums
Philip Donnelly: Electric guitar, slide guide
NC Lawlor: Pedal steel
Taken from the album ‘100 Midnights’ by permission of Firstborn Recordings

Johnny Dowd And Billy Cote ‘No Place To Fall’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Dowd/Cote 
Johnny Dowd: Vocals, music and production
Billy Cote: Music and production
Mary Lorson: Vocals

Stan Ridgway And Peter Case ‘If I Was Washington’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Ridgway/Case 
Performed by Stan Ridgeway and Peter Case

10 Jeb Loy Nichols ‘Flyin’ Shoes’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Jeb Loy Nichols 
Jeb Loy Nichols: Vocals, all instruments

11 Shannon Lyon 'If I needed you'

Shannon Lyon (Pawnee Music/SOCAN)
Joost Kroon: Drums
Shannon Lyon: Electric guitar, vocals
Mike Roelofs: Hammond

12 Jason McNiff And Songdog ‘Mr Mudd and Mr Gold’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Jason McNiff And Songdog 
Jason McNiff: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Lyndon Morgans: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Karl Woodward: Mandolin, banjo & harmonica
Dave Paterson: Accordion
Nick Kacal: Double bass
Produced, mixed and engineered by Nick Kacal, Guerillasound Recordings
Songdog appear by kind permission of One Little Indian Records.

13 Tom Ovans ‘Loretta’Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Tom Ovans 
Tom Ovans: Vocals, guitar, harmonica

14 David Wrench And Henry Priestman ‘Snake Song’Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Priestman/Wrench 
David Wrench: Keyboards
Henry Priestman: Vocal, guitar

15 Jackie Leven ‘Townes At The Borderline’
Leven (Cooking Vinyl) P Jackie Leven
Jackie Leven: Vocals, guitar
Michael Cosgrave: All other noises
Recorded and mixed by Michael Cosgrave at Mongrel Monkey Facility, Devon, UK. Michael Cosgrave appears courtesy of Fictitious Talent.

16 Rex Bell and Janet Bell ‘Rex's Blues’Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Rex Bell
Rex Bell: Vocals, guitar
Janet Bell: Vocals

recorded live at the Old Quarter, Galveston Texas, 1st January 2010
due to a pressing error the version of Rex's Blues included on the album is credited to Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin when in fact it is by Rex & Janet Bell. It was this very Wrecks that the song was written for.

Danny and Carrie's excellent version can be found here:
apologies to Danny, Carrie, Rex and Janet for the mix-up
Danny Schmidt And Carrie Elkin ‘Rex's Blues’Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Danny 
Danny Schmidt: Vocals, guitar
Carrie Elkin: Vocals

17 Rob Dunsford ‘Two Girls’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug/JTVZ Music) P Rob Dunsford 
Rob Dunsford: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Eric Heath: Accordion

18 Devon Sproule ‘Turnstyled, Junkpiled’Townes Van Zandt (Bug) P Devon Sproule
Devon Sproule: Vocals, guitar, harmonica


19 Jeffrey Foucault ‘Nothin'’
Townes Van Zandt (Bug) P Jeffrey Foucault
Jeffrey Foucault: Guitar, vocals

20 Townes Van Zandt and the Calvins ‘Riding The Range’
Michael Weston King (Murdered With Kindness) P Exile 
Townes Van Zandt: Vocals and howls
Jim Calvin: Guitar, fiddle, mandolin
Royann Calvin: Rhythm guitar

photo credits:  Michael Weston King, Jason McNiff and Devon Sproule photos by Annabel Vere; Jackie Leven photo by MaryJane Robinson.  All taken at QE2 Activity Centre August 2007.

review from

-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '13th September 2010'-  Catalogue No: 'PSALM 23:47' 

Our Rating:          
Despite being blighted by alcoholism and drug dependency throughout his adult life, Texan troubadour Townes Van Zandt left behind one of the most revered catalogues in Americana-related circles. Truly sensitive and poetic, his songs have been covered by artists as disparate as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Tindersticks and it’s often through these recordings that his posthumous legend has spread.

Respected singer/ songwriter MICHAEL WESTON KING collaborated with the long tall Texan while he was fronting pioneering UK Roots combo The Good Sons and has since been a fierce champion of Van Zandt’s work. Together with ‘Mojo’ scribe Dave Henderson, he has lovingly compiled this extensive, 20-track Townes tribute and with a contribution from each sale going to the QE2 activity centre to help thousands of people with both physical and learning disabilities it’s surely both the worthiest and most emotive Townes-related release to date.

By their very nature, compilations can be notoriously hit and miss affairs, but ‘Riding The Range’ is pretty consistent overall.   Weston King himself leads the way with a resonant version of none-bleaker late period Townes tune ‘Marie’, while other early highlights are provided by THE MAGIC NUMBERS’ dreamily graceful version of ‘Quicksilver Dreams of Maria’ and the terminally under-rated PETER BRUNTNELL’S stripped-back acoustic take of ‘Second Lovers Song.’

Many of the artists treat these dignified and highly personal songs with the kid gloves they deserve, but there are always those with both the guts and the daring to go that extra mile.   Perhaps the most radical re-workings come courtesy of BOO HEWERDINE and JOHNNY DOWD & BILLY COTE but they are also among the best things here. Hewerdine brings loops, electro tinges and loud guitar scree to ‘Lungs’ yet still matches the darkness of the original, while Dowd & Cote (with Mary Lorson sweetening the vocal pill) turn ‘No Place to Fall’ into a way cool Velvets-style narcotic pop workout. STAN RIDGWAY & PETER CASE are an intriguing pairing on paper, too, and their suitably quirky take on ‘If I Was Washington’ is exuberantly off the wall.

Inevitably, it isn’t all quite so transcendent. The floaty guitars and trip-hop beats of JEB LOY NICHOLS’ ‘Flyin’ Shoes’ never get close to the original, while JEFFREY FOUCAULT’S ‘Nothin’’ can only grab at both the inherent nihilism of Townes’ version or the helplessness of Rowland S. Howard’s recent cover. Elsewhere, my jury’s still out on SHANNON LYON’S ‘If I Needed You’. Initially, I intensely disliked his rattling Rockabilly revamping of one of Van Zandt’s greatest songs, but the invention and sheer cheek of it starts to win you over after a while.

Perhaps the most empathetic performer here is SHANE MACGOWAN. Another character familiar with playing Russian roulette with eternity, Townes’ ‘Waitin’ Round to Die’ could just as easily have been written for The Pogues singer. His rancid bark reminds us he’s a shadow of his former self these days, yet his dog-eared version of the song is still weirdly affecting. Ditto Townes’ version of Michael Weston King’s ‘Riding The Range’ which allows the great man the final word and brings the album to a suitably dignified conclusion.

Like Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt eschewed the wealth and privilege of his upbringing for the pursuit of artistic freedom and paid a high price. That he went to his grave in relative obscurity remains tragic, but the creative wealth of riches he bequeathed us is more than enough to sustain his posthumous reputation for decades to come.   Releases with the integrity and invention of ‘Riding The Range’ can only help to enhance it even further.

The QE2 activity centre website

Townes Van Zandt official website

Michael Weston King online
Reviews from Maverick, Uncut

This 20-track compilation falls into the category of a "tribute" album to the renowned singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt, rather than being a compilation of the most famous or interesting interpretations of Van Zandt compositions that have appeared since his career began in the 1960s. As is the case with many such tribute albums, many, and likely most, of the names won't be familiar to the average listener or even Van Zandt fan. Exceptions might be Shane MacGowan (who does "Waitin' Round to Die" with Mighty Stef), Stan Ridgway and Peter Case (who perform "If I Was Washington" as a duo), Johnny Dowd (who does "No Place to Fall" with Billy Coté), and the late Van Zandt himself (who sings the Michael Weston King composition "Riding the Range" with the Calvins). It might not sound too appealing on paper, but as heretical as it might be to state this, some people not schooled in Van Zandt's own work might find it in some senses more listenable than Van Zandt's own recordings. That's not to say that these are superior to (or a match for) the originals, but they in some way have more sonic variety than the average Van Zandt record, particularly in the vocal department. The arrangements and the largely male-sung interpretations are straightforward, no-frills, competent, respectful, and largely faithful to the songwriter's dark country-folk vibe, although some occasional harder rocking touches sound inappropriate. Ninety-nine pence from the sale of every copy goes to the QE2 Activity Centre, which provides activities for people with disabilities.   WWW.ALLMUSIC.COM

And from best of the rest of 2010 - there at number 5 - Riding the Range!!  At number 2 is More Townes van Zandt by the Great Unknown - another fine Townes tribute album.   Just to be listed there with music legends Wreckless Eric and Dr Feelgood makes me proud.  And Springsteen and the Crazy Heart soundtrack - not too shabby at all.
#1   The Promise – Bruce Springsteen
#2   More Townes Van Zandt By The Great Unknown
#3   Divided by a Common Language
#4   Sounds Affects Deluxe - The Jam
#5   Riding the Range (The Songs of Townes van Zandt)
#6  Oil City Confidential- Story of Dr. Feelgood
#7   Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby – Two Way Family Favourites
#8   Face a Frowning World : An E.C. Ball Memorial Album
#9   Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
#10  Butcher Holler (A Tribute To Loretta Lynn)


LOST IN TRANSLATION: from the Serbian

VA / Riding The Range: The Songs Of Townes Van Zandt

VA / Riding The Range: The Songs Of Townes Van ZandtTauns Van Zant, the troubadour Bob Dylan's greatest rock era, his followers, which is every day more and more, he learned a great wisdom. She says that to live means to fly. Verses from the song "To Live Is To Fly" are losing many moments into a heroic deeds.Poetry and music have never been so well-paired as in Van Zant songs. No wonder that his musical legacy is so inspiring for the current period musicians. The songs in the repertoire of his many albums we've heard this year. A large number of so-called tribute projects recorded in recent years tells the same story. Latest "Riding The Range: The Songs Of Townes Van Zandt" provided the opportunity group of musicians that once again, the key tuned out by this author.
Van Zant is her artistic modus operandi best explained by saying: "The musicians practice, a folk singer gets drunk and went to the scene."  His songs are poetic, pungent and bitter man who  through toxic grinning in the face of nothingness, which he points out.  Van Zant poetry and music are located between life and death. They explain to each other.  They sound space in which to place human existence.
Echo of that sound can be heard on the album "Riding The Range: The Songs Of Townes Van Zandt." Some of the performers have the same mindset and attitude to life as Van Zant. Also originating from the same scene. Their interpretations are in line with the standards set by the evil luck troubadour.
Stan Ridgway, Peter Case and blues performed "If I Was Washington" with the same cheerful cynicism and ambiguity as Van Zant.  Hazardous minstrel Johnny Dowd, in society, "Rose Madder" tandems were Kote - Mary Lorson, introduced the song "No Place To Fall" as a dialogue of troubled lovers.  Distorted electric guitar sounds form the appropriate box.
Toothless Shane Makgauen took one of the most painful Van Zant songs "Waitin 'Round To Die".  Sang, accompanied by the Irish band "The Mighty Stef," with understanding and commitment in excess of performer skill.  Rather, it's some kind of identification that comes from the same "tragic sense of life."  This done, the tracks could be in the repertoire of one set of which tells the story Džojsovoj "dead".
Other performers, who come from different space and time compared to Taunsa Van Zant, there are more interesting.  Canadian singer Sprul Devon, for example, a whole new way performed less well known song "Turnstyled, Junkpiled", just like the legendary Jeffrey Foucault "Nothin '." In this way, set new benchmarks in rokerskoj discipline which might be called "Sing a song Taunsa Van Zant, so I know who you are."
The compilation ends with the song "Riding The Range."  Performed by Van Zant I was accompanied by the band "The Calvins." It is the A-side single, recorded two months before his untimely death first 1st
* Taken from the daily Politika
"Townes who?"  - Richard Hawley

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