Being in the right place at the right time is a building block for career success. The unspoken parts of the advice are that when you are standing in the correct spot at the perfect time, you had better have everything you need to within arms reach so you don’t have to move. After hitting the Top Ten in early 1968 with “Dance to the Music”, Sly and the Family Stone consumer interest sink with their first three albums. For Sly Stone, everything lined up perfectly with the release of Stand!, and its semi-greatest hits package with the tracks on its April 1969 release. Two successful two-sided hit singles came from Stand! with the title track release offering B-side of “I Want to Take You Higher” following a 1968 release of “Everyday People” backed with “Sing a Simple Song”. Stand! hit the ground running, its songs and mood mirroring the cultural moments in which it was released. The career of Sly and the Family Stone entered the mainstream at an accelerated pace with the release of Stand!, the band and tracks achieving worldwide success with tour stop for the album including a performance at Woodstock within six months of its release and an infamous appearance on the Dick Cavett Show around the same time with the band becoming a live marching band in parade formation for “I Want to Take You Higher”.
Sly and the Family Stone counseled both the left and right on Stand!. After the #1 success of “Everyday People”, Sly Stone became a counterculture figure who looked at himself as an equal part of a global population. Once the band had everyone’s attention, they let go with the admonition “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” which took aim at both sides of the race divide. Stand! encouraged active participation in changing the world on its title track, and once it had people on their feet, nurtured them with the mantra “You Can Make It If You Try”.
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Los Lobos have never been a one-trick musical pony anymore than they are Just Another Band from East L.A., the compilation title that collects tracks the band’s releases as a package. The early output of Los Lobos added touches to traditional Mexican music with Rock’n’Roll, R&B, Rockabilly, and Blues as well as Tejano/Mariachi Folk music. Kiko arrived in 1992, almost a decade since their E.P. release, …And A Time to Dance since gave Los Lobos the ability to tour, and their mid-1980 releases, How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984) and By the Light of the Moon (1987) sealed the band’s fame on a worldwide level. While all of the 1980’s releases showcased diversity, it was Kiko that gave a glimpse into the depth of musical possibilities from Los Lobos. When main songwriters David Hidalgo (guitar) and Louie Perez (drummer) met in high school, the bonded of the more obscure talents of Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, and Fairport Convention. Kiko shows love for many styles as it exhibits the ability of Los Lobos to cross multiple musical soundscapes and never miss a step in their groove.
The Blues carves a path through the Cesar Rosas (guitar) co-write “That Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore” and colors the snaking swamp edge of “Wicked Rain” with Blue Experimental Rock. Second line drumming opens the album as “Dream in Blue” shuffles in while a ghostly big band plays tag back alley Jazz backs “Kiko and the Lavender Moon”, covers “Arizona Sky” a percussive Tex-Mex desert wind, and taps a toe for mountain music for “Two Janes”. Los Lobos stretch the boundaries of their own music as they push against the existing confines of rock and roots. Kiko delicately picks flurried notes for “Saint Behind the Glass”, kicks out street beats on “Angels with Dirty Faces”, and heads down “Whiskey Trail” on a Southern Rock road as Los Lobos shake out “Wake Up Dolores” on a snaggle of strings and rhythms and strum out a welcome “When the Circus Some to Town”.
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Hayes Carll – (from the album Trouble in Mind)
Album number three for Hayes Carll, Trouble in Mind, was his first album to be released through Lost Highway Records. Trouble in Mind fully stepped into the brand persona that Hayes Carll had been developing in touring and his initial album releases. His characters fully stretched into their collective skins, wearing the hard luck and good times found in questionable decisions and late-night rambles. Trouble in Mind wakes up with a co-write with Ray Wylie Hubbard on the first cut, “Drunken Poet’s Dream”. Katey sashays into “Girl Downtown” with goals set high for her future as a local musician plugs in and makes a wish on “I Got a Gig” and a young man goes to sleep armed with a ready-made dream in the Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan tune “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”.
As the men and women in the tales walk the story halls of Trouble in Mind a cast of players joined Hayes Carll to instrumentally back the tracks as Will Kimbrough, Fats Kaplin, Dan Baird, Al Perkins, Darryl Scott, George Bradfute, and a steady stream of talent unpacked gear in Nashville and Austin recording studios. Trouble in Mind pulls into “Beaumont” with Houston memories, sighs “It’s a Shame” on a Country shuffle, and makes promises to both angels and devils with “Wild as a Turkey” and “Willing to Love Again”. Hayes Carll received a nod from the Americana Music Association in 2008 when it made “She Left Me for Jesus” Song of the Year. The tracks joins the batch of tracks on Trouble in Mind that have made themselves a soundtrack for lives as “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” doubles down in a stormy romance while “A Lover Like You” sees trouble walking its way.
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