When Gillian Welch released her debut album, Revival, in 1996, plenty of listeners and critics were taken aback by her strikingly accomplished re-creation of the sound and mindset of country music of the '20s and '30s, as if she'd miraculously stepped out of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music into Nashville in the late 20th century. It soon became common knowledge that Welch was born in New York City and had attended the Berklee School of Music, leading many to question the sincerity of the artist and the validity of the work. Twenty years later, Welch has released Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg, a collection of outtakes, demos, and alternate versions committed to tape before or during the making of Revival.
The Connies traveled to Memphis to record at Ardent Studios, where the Replacements and Big Star made great records, and their mix of Seventies Stones (but dirtier), the New York Dolls (but tighter) and Jerry Lee Lewis (but Westerberg-ier) comes with an extra sense of bare-knuckled grit and sonic thwump to fight against the darkness. "Revolution Rock & Roll" is a slamming gospel-tinged get-woke anthem, while the strikingly spare piano ballad "Montreal" evokes Big Star's "Thirteen" and Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," and turns on the lines "I gave conjunctivitis to a girl in a bar/I gave conjunctivitis like a star."
Pure and simple genius from trumpeter Charlie Shavers – a player with a sweet tone and a fluid groove – stepping out here with great accompaniment from pianist Ray Bryant! The CD brings together work from the albums Charlie Digs Paree and Charlie Digs Dixie – both originally recorded for MGM Records in the late 50s, and done in a clean, uncluttered style that really brought a strong focus to Shaver's solos, but also gave some excellent rhythmic support from Bryant – working here at the height of his early powers, in a mode that's clearly relaxed enough to get with the spirit of each different session.