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on 7 October 2013
Waiting for this to be released in 2000 was a very frustrating experience. As a massive Griffin fan I'd heard live versions of choice tracks, loved them, and couldn't wait to get my hands on the CD.

Fast forward 13 years and the release date has finally arrived. Caught up in label dogma this album was shelved and Griffin's career in hiatus. A devastating blow, especially as the music here is just so good.

In those 13 years tracks off Silver Bell have been successfully covered by artists such as the Dixie Chicks and Joan Osborne, and Griffin herself during that time, now much more appreciated for being one of the standout singer-songwriters of the last 15 years.

Lyrically, Griffin stands alone. Tracks such as Top of the World, Mother of God, Truth #2 and What You Are reveal this: songs rich in quiet truths and emotional depth. Couple that with her musicanship and clear heartfelt tone and she cuts right to the heart throughout this album.

Griffin fans will already know this album, and most likely have it on bootleg, as I myself have for years.

However, in this remastered form if feels fresh and new yet timeless at the same time.

It's a wonderful piece of art. Musical therapy for all that ails you. A classic.
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Record companies are just plain weird. "Sliver Bell" was recorded by Patty Griffin as a follow-up to her 1998 album Flaming Red, but it went unreleased by her label at the time, A&M records. The reasons for this are still unclear but center on two theories. The first is that it essentially got lost in the shuffle due to a change in ownership of the label at the time. The second and possibly more likely of the two is that some tuneless dimwit felt that it sounded too much like her previous effort. Indeed, Griffin has mentioned the role of the usually impeccable Jimmy Iovine who told Griffin that "You have never made a good record,'" and then handed her a copy of U2s 'Beautiful Day,' and said, 'Take a listen to this. This is how you write a hit record.'" Oh dear me Mr. Iovine, shame on you!

"Silver Bell" was recorded in March 2000 at Daniel Lanois's Kingsway Studio in New Orleans. The musicians were Patty Griffin (vocals, guitar, piano), Doug Lancio (guitar), John Deaderick (keyboards), Frank Swart (bass), and Billy Beard (percussion). To have the album released some 13 years after it was first recorded and now remixed by Glyn Johns is a long overdue treat. Many Griffin fans will already own the widely circulated bootleg of this set and in essence, the track order remains the same. In the interim, a couple of the songs have also appeared on other releases. The most famous of these is "Top of the World" which appeared in 2004's "Impossible Dream" and later received a high profile cover from the Dixie Chicks. The version on "Silver Bell" is different with more of a bar room ballad feel but Griffin's voice is a magnificent instrument on both takes. The Dixie Chicks also covered the excellent empowerment anthem "Truth # 2" which is probably the song on this release which would have best fitted in "Flaming Red". Other tracks like the hard rocking "Boston" and the almost Eastern sounding "Little God" clearly benefit from the new mix with the vocals on more front and centre than the previously unreleased version. Alternatively, some songs here do not work particularly the rather distorted "Perfect White Girls" which while a bold experiment is far from being a Griffin classic. The title track will also challenge her traditional fan base since it is almost a punk thrash, although over the years it has grown on this reviewer. The bass heavy "Sorry and Sad" does prove however that Griffin can do soft rock with some panache. As the album proceeds, there is much to admire not least the gentle blues of "Sooner or Later" and the one newly released track "Fragile" is excellent. The standouts nonetheless pick themselves. "Mother of God" predates a part of the melody on "Burgundy Shoes" and is a heartbreaking classic worth the price of entry in its own right with the next song "One more girl" almost matching it. The moody "Driving" is pure pop excellence whilst concluding track "So long" is a rough-hewn Appalachian lament and is charming.

Like all "lost albums" legends have grown around "Silver Bell" reinforced by Natalie Maines description of it as her secret treasure trove. Factors such as this and its selective leaking over the years has led some to claim it Griffin's best album. 'Silver Bell" is a rock solid album with some classic songs but it is not Griffin's most consistent or finest release. That honour goes to the brilliant "1000 Kisses". Still, ​after all, this time, it is great to legally complete the released canon of Griffin's work and "Silver Bell" is a very worthy addition to the songwriting credits of a truly great American artist.
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Rather shamefully, I only came across Patty Griffin recently with her excellent American Kid. After that I had no hesitation in trying this "long lost" album on its release, and I think it's at least as good.

There is an excellent review here by Red On Black to which I can't add much except to endorse it wholeheartedly - although I must say that I do disagree with him about Perfect White Girls, which I think is brilliant :o). This is a terrific album, crammed with real quality songs. They are varied, melodically interesting, very well produced and full of great lyrics. It is the quality of the lyrics and Patty Griffin's powerful, sincere and full-blooded performances which really make this album shine for me.

I'm off to try 1000 Kisses on RoB's recommendation. I would suggest that you read his review and then snap this up - it's real quality and very warmly recommended.
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on 9 October 2013
Silver Bell is - and always has been, for me at any rate - Patty Griffin's best album. She continues to release strong albums, but on Silver Bell she was at the height of her song-writing powers. On later albums she became a little over-produced IMO.

Like many fans I've had the original Silver Bell for years but whether you're in the same boat or whether this is completely new, it's an essential purchase for any fan. First of all the quality is excellent (although the levels vary) but more importantly this official version has two tracks not touted for the original release (at least not at the point the project was halted) and not on the bootleg (though just how official that track listing was is open to question): Fragile and So Long. Both are good but Fragile is just a wonderful addition. Unfortunately, two tracks have also been dropped; Standing can be found almost unchanged on Impossible Dream but the other track, Making Pies, would now seem to be completely lost, unless you have the bootleg. Both replacement tracks, though, are stronger than that song.

Thankfully, the producers haven't seen the need to go overboard on the re-mixing. There are changes, but they're subtle, so what you get is pretty much what Patty produced back in 1999/2000, a snapshot of a great artist who was less polished than today but perhaps more creative.
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on 17 October 2013
Patty is simply the best singer songwriter in the world. She has the most wonderful voice and is fantastic live. I cannot recommend enough to people to buy her albums. My favourite is living with ghosts, with all others following closely behind. The only album I don't fully 'get' is downtown church, but that's probably because patty only wrote two of the tracks (no surprise that both these are the standout tracks).
This lady is unbelievably talented
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on 9 December 2013
A lot has been written about the delays in the release of this album. One thing is for sure, this is a superb collection of songs with Patty Griffin living out every lyric and drawing you in each time you hear it. There really aren't any weak tracks on this album - exquisite!
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on 12 October 2013
This is the sort of album that first introduced me to Patty Griffin, and in my opinion when she was at her best.
Her more recent offerings are very good, but [again in my opinion] are not as good as this.
If you are into this sort of thing give Lori Mckenna go [you wont be disappointed].
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on 2 February 2015
great great voice. can't get enough.
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on 1 March 2014
I really liked the first Patty Griffin album I bought, but this one just seemed to lack coherence, a sense of a theme, and doesn't get me coming back to play it again and again or take it in the car.
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on 19 October 2014
love it
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