Texas Campfire Takes
|Price:||£28.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Delivery Details|
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Recorded without her knowledge at the 1986 Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, some of these 'field' recordings were released on album later that year and became a surprise indie hit in the UK, leading to Michelle being signed by a major label. However, despite the boost that original, primitive, unauthorised release gave to her career she was not best pleased. It was not only without her permission, it was ineptly edited, chopped out many songs and most of her informal chat. Worst of all it was running at the wrong speed. Seventen years later, with Michelle now firmly in control of her career, this revised, 2-CD, expanded release of the Kerrville recordings is a whole different ballgame, endorsed by the artist herself with a 52-page booklet. Now at the right speed with enhanced sound quality and her entire performance intact, it is an infinitely better revelation of why Michelle has become internationally renowned. The first disc of the new package features the album as originally released and reflects that perspective, though now with improved clarity. The second is the restored, revelatory tape with all 21 songs from around the campfire, complete with Michelle's incisive, witty remarks plus a bonus of material made in performance with other musicians at the festival. This release kicks off a year-long publicity campaign to celebrate the career to date of a unique, iconaclastic artist.
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The first disc in the set is music as originally release in order probably sourced from the original CD and adjusted for the first time to allow for the flat batteries in the in the Sony walkman which they were recorded on.
The music was recorded around a campfire complete with the sounds of crickets and the occasional rumble from a lorry in the background. I know that Michelle herself disagrees but I believe that what was originally published did truly represent the most commercial songs from the recordings. Starting with 5AM in Amsterdam always a live favourite, and including Hepcat, (Don't you mess with my) Little Sister, Fogtown and many. There are many great songs.
The second disc is however the complete recording in the correct order but sourced from a second or third generation cassette tape, with the obvious sonic limitations that brings. In many ways more interesting as the recording is complete and unedited, it also contains two bonus tracks 'Cripple Creek' and 'Lagniappe' also recorded at that time.
There is as well included in the package a 52-page booklet of writings songs and official documents charting this turbulent time in the life of Karen Michelle 'Shocked' Johnson. Do buy if you liked the original album the whole package represents very good value for money and gives a very good historical account of a person before they become well known.
All the recordings are made on an extremely simple equipment, at the Kerrville Folk festival in Texas in 1986. Some of the recordings were issued on CD the year after (all this happened, as all fans know, before Michelle's controversy with the record company).
The actual album, "Texas Campfire Tapes", isn't all that interesting - although it's exciting to hear "Secret to a long life" in an early version. But some of the tracks on CD2 are marvellous (although the sound quality is absolutely horrendous).
Especially "Contest coming" which also figures on "Arkansas Traveler" from 1992. The earlier version is folk rock at it's purest, roughest and sweetest.
If you want to know how one of the most interesting folk rockers of today begun, this is the record to buy. It's even more interesting in it's historical context, that is if you have the later albums.
Beware, though, that on some pressings the track listing on the cover isn't accurate - one of the listed songs isn't on the CD, and a few others that are on the CD are not on the cover...
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