Midnight Ramble Music Sessions 2 (Dig)


aec.levh2.2 2/21/06 New
$24.64 $28.99

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    Midnight Ramble Music Sessions 2 (Dig) Levon Helm Studios

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Review Text The second installment in Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble Music series -- albums drawn from jam-session style concerts held at Helm's studio in Woodstock, New York -- is a more engaging listen than the first, largely because it offers a lot more variety along the way. While the first set was a straightforward blues with Little Sammy Davis fronting the combo, The Midnight Ramble Music Sessions, Vol. 2 has been culled from four different gigs, and the song list ranges from the laid-back but potent funk of "The Battle Is Over but the War Goes On," the rollicking down-home shuffle of Bob Dylan's "Don't Ya Tell Henry," the tough blues workout of "Borrowed Time," and a heartfelt cover of Ray Charles' "I Want to Know" (the set is dedicated to Charles' memory). Helm also brought in some notable friends to sit in for these recordings, including Dr. John, former Chuck Berry piano wizard Johnnie Johnson, Jimmy Vivino from the Max Weinberg Seven, and Bob Dylan sideman Larry Campbell. But the big surprise here is that Helm is singing again, and singing well; he was diagnosed with cancer of the vocal cords in 1998, and surgery and radiation treatments reduced his voice to a shadow of its former self for several years, but if there's a bit more rasp to Helm's instrument today, he sounds stronger than anyone would have a right to expect on his vocal features, and he's audibly jazzed to be able to take the mic again (his drumming is in fine shape, too). The Midnight Ramble Music Sessions, Vol. 2 has its share of flaws, most notably an overwrought performance by Sean Costello on Lowell Fulson's "Blue Shadows," but for the most part this is a set of roots rock that balances ragged and right very well indeed. (This release includes a DVD that features footage of the same performances included on the CD, as well as a bonus rehearsal of "Don't Ya Tell Henry.") ~ Mark Deming

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Battle Is Over But the War Goes On - 5:07
  2. 2. What Kind of Man Are You - 4:21
  3. 3. Don't Ya Tell Henry - 4:02
  4. 4. Blue Shadows - 5:23
  5. 5. All About John - 7:45
  6. 6. I Want to Know - 5:25
  7. 7. Fool in Love - 5:06
  8. 8. Borrowed Time - 8:34
  9. 9. When the Battle Is Over - 6:30

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