haw, the cover's pretty hardcore
― tylerw, Saturday, 21 January 2012 03:08 (1 year ago) Permalink
Yeah, great cover indeed.
"Back to the garden" done Dalton-style.
― Frozen_Warnings, Saturday, 21 January 2012 03:27 (1 year ago) Permalink
I really enjoyed that Cotton Eyed Joe release. It sounded a whole lot better than I expected it to. I'll probably end up getting 1966 too.
― Frozen_Warnings, Saturday, 21 January 2012 03:29 (1 year ago) Permalink
so good, btw.
― Mordy, Monday, 27 February 2012 22:47 (1 year ago) Permalink
she's kinda the stealth most influential female singer ever even if lots of ppl don't even know they are influenced by her
― the wild eyed boy from soundcloud (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 27 February 2012 22:50 (1 year ago) Permalink
heh, yeah agreed
― Chris S, Monday, 27 February 2012 22:56 (1 year ago) Permalink
is it terribly superficial of me to say that i love how understated and lo-fi the recording is?
― Mordy, Monday, 27 February 2012 22:59 (1 year ago) Permalink
nah, it suits her -- sounds like it could've been plucked off of a 1930s 78.
― tylerw, Monday, 27 February 2012 23:01 (1 year ago) Permalink
or a lomax tape
― Mordy, Monday, 27 February 2012 23:03 (1 year ago) Permalink
just listened to 1966 on spotify, totally great, I agree. Maybe the best of these archival things, which is surprising. You'd think they'd be scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point.
― tylerw, Monday, 27 February 2012 23:42 (1 year ago) Permalink
it does kinda seem at this point like every year has one of these reissues - carol kleyn notably last year but I bet if I went thru my music I could locate like one a year going back a decade
― Mordy, Monday, 27 February 2012 23:45 (1 year ago) Permalink
Don't know if any of you have seen this article. I've been listening to "Cotton Eyed Joe" again and Googling around for info on the 1966 release.
Get past the first few paragraphs and there is some interesting biographical information in this. Worth reading:
Financial Times, January 27, 2012Play, lady, play
By Richard ClaytonKaren Dalton was Bob Dylan’s favourite singer and a folk-scene legend but died virtually unknown
If you like Bob Dylan a lot, you ought to love Karen Dalton a little. A legend of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, the singer is lionised by other performers and a tragic heroine for her fans. Today, nearly 20 years after her death, more of Dalton’s music is available than ever, and the people who knew her best have started to talk.
Tales about Dalton are as tall as she was. She had an aura that turned men’s heads and an attitude to spur girl-crushes in women who paint her as a “pagan mother goddess rooted in this planet”, as one purple liner-note has it. The stories mention her Native American blood, her hard drugs and her suspicion of recording studios, that she kidnapped her own child and died of Aids at 55 in 1993, a derelict on the streets of New York. The truth is more nuanced, but no less involving, than the fiction
Only two Dalton albums were released while she was alive. Her first LP did sneak out again in 1997, but it was the publication of Dylan’s 2004 memoir, Chronicles, that sparked her revival. He wrote that Dalton was his favourite singer in that Greenwich Village scene: “[She] had a voice like Billie Holiday’s and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed and went all the way with it.” The going all the way is crucial. From the off, Dalton had an unforgettable blues voice, with a cracked, mournful, horn-like quality, weary beyond its years. What she wasn’t was a songwriter. Singer-songwriters were soon all the rage.
In 2006 Dalton’s low-key debut, It’s So Hard to Tell Who’s Going to Love You the Best (1969), and its more extensively produced successor, In My Own Time (1971), were both – in record-industry parlance – “lavishly reissued”. Glowing reviews followed. The Dalton trail, cold for so long, was giving off heat.
1966 is the third and latest collection of previously unreleased – indeed, previously unknown – reel-to-reel recordings to have emerged since. The others are Cotton Eyed Joe (2007), a 1962 live set of 21 tracks, and Green Rocky Road (2008), nine home recordings from 1963. Each sounds thrillingly raw, low-fi and antique, but 1966 is the pick. As her then husband – duettist and guitar player Richard Tucker – observes, Dalton is “relaxed and in her element”. The location is an old gold-rush cabin in the hills near Boulder, Colorado; their retreat from beatnik living “back east”. Dalton plays banjo and sings the folk standards that were the core of her repertoire along with songs by their Greenwich Village peers Fred Neil and Tim Hardin. Hers must be the first cover of Hardin’s “Reason to Believe” (a song later popularised by Rod Stewart) because Hardin’s own debut album wasn’t even pressed at that point.
On the phone from the Pacific north-west, Tucker, now 71, still seems slightly in awe: “I was totally amazed by her right away. I remember carrying her guitar for her down the street. I was like a groupie ... The first place I saw her perform was a tiny spot on Bleecker Street called the Flamenco Café ... Peter Tork [the future Monkee] was washing dishes.”
For five years Dalton and Tucker would go back and forth between New York and Colorado, where the Attic folk club in Boulder became a pit-stop for musicians travelling coast-to-coast. Dalton was a draw for the likes of Hardin, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and a pre-Byrds David Crosby. She played few formal gigs. “We did do a really good concert at the university in Indiana,” says Tucker. “Somewhere in the world is a tape.” Recording together was almost unheard of, not something that occurred to young folkies existing day-to-day.
Theirs was a “very tumultuous relationship”, Tucker recalls. “Karen was strong-willed but she wasn’t self-confident. There was a fragility there.” They split up soon after the 1966 session was captured by their friend Carl Baron. “I remember having an argument in the middle of Denver and me getting out of the car and walking away and never seeing her again,” Tucker says.
Dalton’s daughter, Abralyn Baird, now 55, was born when Dalton was 17; her elder brother, Johnny Lee Murray, when Dalton was 15. Two fathers, two divorces. “My mom was kinda headstrong. She wanted to get on with stuff,” says Baird. “In most states then you could get permission to marry before you were 16; it wasn’t a total scandal or anything.”
By her own admission, Baird has the same “deep, hoarse” speaking voice as her mother. Asked to name the most erroneous of the Dalton myths, she answers disarmingly: “The Cherokee princess one makes us all laugh.” Her mother’s parents, John and Evelyn Cariker, came from “mostly Irish” stock, she says. One grandmother was distantly related to Will Rogers, the Cherokee cowboy-actor, but the link was “pretty dilute”. A nice story then? “Isn’t it though?” Baird replies.
Dalton’s Oklahoma background was a badge of authenticity in Greenwich Village. Tucker remembers her family as “classic Okies”, rural flotsam of the Depression, and her father as “incredibly alcoholic”.
Baird bristles: “Her dad was a respected welder; her mother was a nurse. Not terribly Grapes of Wrath.”
So what of Abralyn’s kidnapping? “Yeah, she took off with me. But, remember, she was a 19-year-old girl.” Having already lost custody of her son, Dalton reconciled with Baird’s father, a literature professor, who had been granted custody of their daughter – then fled with her to New York. “They had the same temperament, my mom and dad,” says Baird. “They were very forthright, quick to anger. Very stubborn.”
Little is known publicly about Dalton after the early 1970s other than that she was living in New York. Drink and drugs surely tightened their grip but friends such as the folk guitarist Peter Walker have rebutted suggestions she died homeless and destitute. Baird maintains her mother had throat cancer and was in a hospice near Woodstock at the end. As for Aids, Baird says: “Well, she could have had that too, but it was never said to me specifically that she did.”
Dalton’s career stalled through corporate indifference and her own intransigence. “She wasn’t seen as very commercial,” Tucker explains. “The people in charge [of record labels] didn’t get it.” Baird believes it wasn’t so much that her mother didn’t want to record albums as that she resented the loss of control the process implied.
And as Harvey Brooks, the producer of Dalton’s one fully realised studio outing, In My Own Time, told me in 2006: “She didn’t like pressure. She was a very intimate performer – we didn’t have the word ‘stress’ then.”
Dalton is increasingly recognised, however, as an astonishing vocal interpreter. “She was taking something else and making it her own,” says Baird. Dalton’s technique owes more to jazz than folk. According to Brooks, “She crosses the bars… She’ll bend a note and you don’t know if she’s gonna make it or not, but she does.”
If Dalton has a signature song it’s the ballad “Katie Cruel”, which opens: “When I first came to town they called me the roving jewel, now they’ve changed their tune, call me Katie Cruel.” You don’t need to spend ages wondering why it appealed to her. “Oh, because it sounds like she’s talking about herself,” Tucker says. “Or more like an image of herself.”
Dalton’s original Capitol Records biography from 1969 asks rhetorically where she has been: “She’s been around,” it concludes. At last, her music is getting around, too.
― Duke, Saturday, 3 March 2012 21:25 (1 year ago) Permalink
i need to get that 1966 thing.
― flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Sunday, 4 March 2012 02:48 (1 year ago) Permalink
"Katie Cruel" is so great
"through the woods i'll go through the foggy mire / straight down the road until i come to my heart's desire"
― Mordy, Tuesday, 6 March 2012 02:37 (1 year ago) Permalink
i have to dig out in my own time and see if it sounded as good there. i don't remember it...
― Mordy, Tuesday, 6 March 2012 02:38 (1 year ago) Permalink
it's p all time on that rec
― bear, bear, bear, Tuesday, 6 March 2012 02:49 (1 year ago) Permalink
anyway, this album is great. maybe my favorite thing of the year so far and i didn't even realize it was coming out
― Mordy, Tuesday, 6 March 2012 02:53 (1 year ago) Permalink
I've wondered if Karen Dalton was the big influence on Devendra Barnhart's singing style rather than Marc Bolan as I think is often cited.
― Stevolende, Tuesday, 6 March 2012 07:26 (1 year ago) Permalink
I think she anticipates so much of Neil Young's career, particularly on this album on "Reason to Believe" which is sooooo great.
― Mordy, Thursday, 8 March 2012 16:14 (1 year ago) Permalink
xp Barnhart writes a long, flowery essay in the reish of in my own time where he names her as his fave singer.
― tylerw, Thursday, 8 March 2012 16:22 (1 year ago) Permalink
She looked gorgeous. Her voice. Ditto.
Sorry to pick the obvious one.
I've been on a bender
― Jessie Fer Ark (Mobbed Up Ping Pong Psychos), Thursday, 8 March 2012 22:23 (1 year ago) Permalink
was watching random episodes of What's In My Bag on the Amoeba site and was amazed by Cheech Marin's memories of being Dalton's housematehttp://www.amoeba.com/whats-in-my-bag/index.html#/search/Cheech%20Marin/page1
― zappi, Thursday, 8 March 2012 22:35 (1 year ago) Permalink
I relistened to In My Own Time and It's So Hard today and I think 1966 might be my fave.
― Mordy, Friday, 9 March 2012 01:26 (1 year ago) Permalink
"when i first came to town / they bought me drinks aplenty"
― Mordy, Friday, 9 March 2012 02:56 (1 year ago) Permalink
― zappi, Thursday, March 8, 2012 4:35 PM (2 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink
― flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Sunday, 11 March 2012 03:12 (1 year ago) Permalink
they like flowers and music and white girls named Karen too.
― buzza, Sunday, 11 March 2012 03:18 (1 year ago) Permalink
every time i relisten to this i find new reasons to love ithow mournful + haunted she sounds on "reason to believe"richard tucker duet with her on "don't make promises""standing on that corneeeeeeeeeer."
― Mordy, Saturday, 28 April 2012 02:10 (1 year ago) Permalink