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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jesse Winchester - Jesse Winchester / Third Down 110 To Go (1970-72 us / canada, amazing folk country bluesy rock, 2012 remaster issue)

Jesse Winchester was one of the top singer-songwriters of his generation. This talented artist was born and raised in the American South, but relocated to Canada to avoid being drafted. His early inability to tour in the US may have permanently stunted his commercial success as a recording artist, since he never achieved sales commensurate with his artistic achievements.

After growing up in Memphis, Winchester received his draft notice in 1967 and moved to Montreal, Canada, rather than serve in the military. In 1969, he met Robbie Robertson of the Band, who helped launch his recording career. In the same way that James Taylor's history of mental instability and drug abuse served as a subtext for his early music, Winchester's exile lent real-life poignancy to songs like "Yankee Lady," which appeared on his debut album, Jesse Winchester (1970). He became a Canadian citizen in 1973. 

Jesse's debut  was released in a fold-out LP jacket that featured the same sepia-toned portrait (which looked like one of those austere Matthew Brady photos from the Civil War era) on each of its four sides. Winchester emphasized the dichotomy between his southern origins and his northern exile in songs like "Snow" (which Robertson co-wrote), "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz" ("I've a sadness too sad to be true"), and "Yankee Lady." Jesse Winchester was timely: it spoke to a disaffected American generation that sympathized with Winchester's pacifism. But it was also timeless: the songs revealed a powerful writing talent (recognized by the numerous artists who covered them), and Winchester's gentle vocals made a wonderful vehicle for delivering them. [Originally released by Ampex in 1970.

His two-and-a-half-years-in-the-making follow-up was in some ways even more impressive. Without the influence of Robbie Robertson, Winchester, who produced most of the album himself (three tracks were handled by Todd Rundgren), gave it a homemade feel, using small collections of acoustic instruments, an appropriate setting for a group of short, intimate songs that expressed a deliberately positive worldview set against an acknowledgement of desperate times. Winchester found hope in religion and domesticity, but the key to his stance was a kind of good-humored accommodation. "If the wheel is fixed," he sang, "I would still take a chance. If we're skating on thin ice, then we might as well dance." The album was littered with such examples of aphoristic folk wisdom, adding up to a portrait of a man, cut off from his very deep roots and yet determined to maintain his dignity with grace and even occasionally a goofy sense of humor. 
by William Ruhlmann

Jesse Winchester 1970
1. Payday - 2:55
2. Biloxi - 3:21
3. Snow - 2:24
4. The Brand New Tennessee Waltz - 3:09
5. That's A Touch I Like - 2:50
6. Yankee Lady - 4:03
7. Quiet About It - 2:30
8. Skip Rope Song - 2:27
9. Rosie Shy - 3:06
10.Black Dog - 4:44
11.The Nudge - 3:34
Third Down 110 To Go 1972
12.Isn't That So? - 2:29
13.Dangerous Fun - 2:08
14.Full Moon - 2:06
15.North Star - 2:02
16.Do It - 1:31
17.Lullaby For The First Born - 2:57
18.Midnight Bus - 2:20
19.Glory To The Day - 3:50
20.The Easy Way - 1:33
21.Do La Lay - 1:57
22.God's Own Jukebox - 1:44
23.Silly Heart - 2:55
24.All of Your Stories - 2:38
All songs by Jesse Winchester except track #3 which is co-written with Robbie Robertson

1970  Jesse Winchester 
*Jesse Winchester - Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Guy Black - Drums
*Bob Boucher - Bass, Keyboards, Standup Electric Bass
*Al Cherney - Violin
*Levon Helm - Drums, Mandolin
*Dave Lewis - Drums
*Ken Pearson - Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Vibraphone
*David Rea - Guitar, Vibraphone, Vocals
*Robbie Robertson - Guitar

1972  Third Down, 110 to Go
*Jesse Winchester - Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Charles Viber - Violin
*Doug Schmolze - Guitar
*N.D. Smart II - Drums
*Jimmy Oliver - Bass
*Gordie Fleming - Piano
*Ron Frankel - Drums
*Amos Garrett - Guitar, Vocals
*Sam Kelly - Bongos, Conductor, Congas
*Don Abrams - Percussion
*André Benichou - Guitar
*Bob Boucher - Bass
*Gene Cotton - Bass

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