Friday, December 30, 2011

December's Underappreciated Music (w/links): RIP: Sam Rivers, and Johnny Cash: DESTINATION VICTORIA STATION (Columbia Special Products, 1975)

It doesn't seem too likely that a promotional item for a gimmicky chain restaurant might be one of the best anthology albums of the career of someone of Johnny Cash's stature, nor the best collection of train songs I've encountered (even when compared to Cash's own early themed album Ride This Train); the Wikipedia entry on the record states that most of the recordings were new for this album (seems possible, though that wasn't the usual procedure for CBS Special Products releases, but this is Cash, and some of his favorite songs). But it's the very fact that this album cherry-picks wisely from the catalog of Cash's recordings for CBS that makes it such great listening, even with the fleshing out by Cash of his Victoria Station jingle into a pleasant, unmemorable "real" song at the tag end.

Look to this selection:

Casey Jones (Johnny Cash) 3:01
Hey Porter (Cash) 2:41
John Henry (Traditional) 2:51
Wabash Cannonball (A.P. Carter) 2:39
City of New Orleans (Steve Goodman) 3:38
Folsom Prison Blues (Cash) 2:45
Crystal Chandeliers and Burgundy (Jack Routh) 2:27
Wreck of the Old 97 (Trad. arr. by Cash, Norman Blake, Bob Johnson) 1:49
Waitin' for a Train (Jimmie Rodgers) 1:46
Orange Blossom Special (Ervin T. Rouse) 3:05
Texas 1947 (Guy Clark) 3:16
Destination Victoria Station (Cash) 2:20

--and you see it's not only a good representation of Cash's career, but a not too terribly unrepresentative slice through the history of country music and the folk music which it came out of. And Cash is, unsurprisingly given that this is a cherry-picking anthology, at his best, with some of his best bands and arrangements, throughout. When I picked up this LP at a rummage sale for 50c, I wasn't aware of the Victoria Station chain of restaurants, and I still haven't been inside of one (if they're even still in operation), but even given the promotional nature of this record, it's still a gift from Cash and his colleagues, and we're lucky to have it as a measure of their legacy.

"John Henry"

An incomplete reading of "City of New Orleans" but a similar if less accompanied version:

"Texas 1947"

"Hey, Porter" (similar vintage, same arrangement)

Scott Parker usually has a list of participating blogs in this monthly meme...but if none arises over the course of the day, I'll probably compile what I see...

...and I've been missing the news a lot of late, so missed till just now the note that the seminal jazz reed-player (primarily a saxophonist, but also flautist and more) Sam Rivers died on 26 December, in an item Bill Crider posted. Rest in glory; two of his tracks for Blue Note albums, when he and Eric Dolphy were the primary free jazz innovators for that label:


"Dance of the Tripedal"

More recent big-band work: "Pulsar"


Patti Abbott: Etta James: "At Last"

Yvette Banek: John Williams: Score to Superman (1978)

Sean Coleman: The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin

Bill Crider: the music of Robert Mitchum

Jerry House: hymns

Randy Johnson: Chuck Mangione: Children of Sanchez

George Kelley: Linda Eder: Now

Kate Laity: The Cundeez

Todd Mason: the music of Sam Rivers; Johnny Cash: Destination Victoria Station

Eric Peterson: Demon Knight (soundtrack album)

Charlie Ricci: Chicago: Hot Streets


Richard Moore said...

There were several Victoria Station restaurants in the Atlanta area and I recall eating there several times. It was quite the vogue in the 1970s.

The restaurant seating was inside boxcars with a caboose serving as an entrance area. It was a meat and potatoes kind of place with prime rib and steak very popular and as I recall, rather tasty.

Love Johnny Cash. Glad to see Guy Clark's "Texas 1947" on the list as Clark is one of my favorites since buying his "Old No. 1" album around 1976. Had the pleasure of hearing him in person a couple of time at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. Hard to believe Guy is now 70.

Todd Mason said...

Apparently, there was a lesson to be learned in how Victoria Station the chain imploded in the 1980s, after being very successful in the 1970s...and at least one exec there got a book out of it.

I really should be looking more into Guy Clark. Even with all the years I lived in the DC area, I only went to the Birchmere once, to catch Doc Watson. I might've at least caught a Seldom Scene show.

George said...

This LP seems like a steal at 50 cents, Todd. What a great find!

Todd Mason said...

That was some decades back (how time reminds us of itself when one turns one's thoughts to events past), but I was very fortunate in some of my two- and four-bit LP purchases in those high-school and just post-HS years...Miriam Makeba's PATA PATA, Aretha Franklin's CBS GREATEST HITS (pop jazz to "Soulville" and "Take It Like You Give It"), Abby Lincoln's PEOPLE IN ME, and so on...

Todd Mason said...

I'll take a listen, Deb...thanks. And I'll learn how to spell Abbey Lincoln's name, after listening to her work for 30-odd years or so...

Yvette said...

I did my own interpretation of today's theme, Todd. Not bad for spur of the moment, if I do say so myself. :)

I was never a big Johnny Cash fan until I saw the film bio which I really liked. I know, I know, color me musically uneducated. :)

Todd Mason said...

It's pretty easy to miss too much that's very good...hence the value of such exercises as these!