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Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips

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Big Mick 26 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM
Nancy King 26 Nov 07 - 07:02 PM
C. Ham 26 Nov 07 - 07:11 PM
kendall 26 Nov 07 - 08:24 PM
Jeri 26 Nov 07 - 08:38 PM
GUEST,observer 26 Nov 07 - 09:12 PM
C. Ham 26 Nov 07 - 10:12 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 27 Nov 07 - 06:47 AM
Mark Ross 27 Nov 07 - 09:46 AM
kendall 27 Nov 07 - 12:56 PM
Charley Noble 27 Nov 07 - 05:44 PM
open mike 27 Nov 07 - 08:16 PM
Joe Offer 27 Nov 07 - 08:28 PM
Marion 27 Nov 07 - 08:38 PM
Effsee 27 Nov 07 - 09:35 PM
Effsee 27 Nov 07 - 09:43 PM
Midchuck 27 Nov 07 - 09:46 PM
Jeri 27 Nov 07 - 09:57 PM
Marion 27 Nov 07 - 11:36 PM
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Subject: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM

This weekend I received a wonderful gift from a Wobbly friend of mine, Chris Lauritsen. Chris has been organizing Unions for years and has been a Wobbly for years, even chairing one of their gatherings. To quote him, "Mick... you ever try to chair a convention with folks that don't believe in rules?????". I still laugh thinking about that whole conversation.

But anyway, this weekend Chris gave me the 4 CD set by U. Utah Phillips, titled "Starlight on the Rails:A Songbook". I almost am at a loss to explain what a gift from a national treasure like Bruce Phillips this is. There are some 124 tracks, half of them songs, and the other half are monologues that explains exactly what was in Utah's mind when he wrote these gems. With almost no exceptions, these lyrics were all written by Utah, and to listen to him explain the events and the feelings that inspired them, ... well ... all I can say is that it leaves one in awe of this amazing artist.

There is a bonus here for Mudcatters. Disk three in the set are songs of Utah's, including his monologue on them, but recorded by other folks. Kendall Morse, whom I count as a close friend, is described by Phillips as the best folksinger in North America. He sings the stunningly beautiful song that Phillips wrote, titled "Ashes On The Sea", which was written by Phillips to describe the spreading of Woody Gutherie's ashes on the sea. The description of how the song came to be is wonderful. And he is right about our own Kendall. The voice is great, but the interpretation and turning of the phrase, is dead on. Mark Ross does a phenomenal version of the wonderful hard rock mining song titled "Twist and a Point". When I heard Utah's description of Mark, I knew that I had to find a way to cross paths and share a few songs. Throw in the talents of Rosalie Sorrels, Kate Wolf, Kate Brislin, and Jody Stecher, and you realize that the third CD in the 4 CD set is probably worth the cost of the set. One day I will thank each of you in person for helping to preserve this important man's work. Rosalie, thank God for you and that wire recorder.

Folks, as with all the great ones, this man is more relevant today than at any other time. His message is timeless, and speaks to real values, not some phonied up trash designed to play to voters. His voice is the kind that bores into you and speaks to that part of your soul that knows right from wrong, that part that we listen to in the quiet times.

The production values on this effort are wonderful, as well as the arrangements and the instrumentation. It really and truly is a must have collection for those that are serious students of the craft.

I believe that music, and the messages we put in it, have the ability and the obligation to cause us to evolve in spirit and conscience. I believe it can be used for great good, and to constantly challenge us to examine where we are an where we are headed. My Grandfather and my Father, when they would take us into the woods, to the lake, or just for a walk in the neighborhood, would always make us find a piece of trash to pickup. They admonished us to always leave the place better than we found it. Utah, in this amazing gift to us, has given us a guided tour of his journeys "into the woods" and has succeeded in leaving it better than he found it. There is a lesson there for us all.

Pick it up, folks. It will be one of the best purchases you have ever made.

All the best,

Mick Lane
Union Organizer


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Nancy King
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 07:02 PM

You're absolutely right, Mick -- this is a phenomenal album/collection/resource. I've had my copy for a couple of years now, and it's fantastic. Utah Phillips is one of the finest songwriters ever, and this "songbook" is a great way of sharing these wonderful songs.

If you haven't got this one already, do it now! It would also make a fabulous gift for any folkie.

Nancy


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: C. Ham
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 07:11 PM

I've got most of Utah's other albums. So I'm wondering if these are new versions of the songs or are they the versions from his previous releases?


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: kendall
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 08:24 PM

Of course I love it, and not because I'm on it. I've been a Utah fan for many years, and long before I met him.
It really is a master piece.


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Jeri
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 08:38 PM

C., I believe the songs are all previously recorded. This is a songbook, but it's an audio one, so people don't have to be able to read music or even read. One thing that isn't on previous recordings is his spoken introduction of each song, often with a little information about how the song came to be written. The third CD consists entirely of other people - Kendall is one, Kate Wolf, Kate Brislin & Jody Stecher, Rosalie Sorrels, Mark Ross, Kuddie and Finest Kind are the others.

I love his songs, but the stories, the histories, are what make this set really special. You don't usually get the intros that you would in a live performance on CDs.


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: GUEST,observer
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 09:12 PM

Wobblie website


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: C. Ham
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 10:12 PM

Jeri,

Thanks for the info.


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 06:47 AM

Any chance that someone can give the label and number and stockists?.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Mark Ross
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 09:46 AM

It is a joint release by AK Press and Daemon Records. If you go to Utah's website;

http://www.utahphillips.org

You can order it from Cd Baby I believe. And thanks Mick for the plug. I am also on a couple of other cuts, the ones from LOAFERS GLORY that Utah and I recorded, My god was that 10 years ago? My how time flies when you're having fun. Mick PM me with a phone number and we will talk.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: kendall
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 12:56 PM

Mark Ross and Big Mick. Now there's a pair that will beat three of a kind!


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 05:44 PM

Thanks, Mick, for the information. I've added this one to my Christmas list, and forwarded it to the relevant parties. If they don't nibble, I'll order it myself.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: open mike
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 08:16 PM

For those of you who follow Utah,
he recently announced that due to
his health he will plan to stop
touring. the Folk Alliance is
working on a fund raiser for
him, but another way would be
for everyone to support his
projects by purchasing his
creations, such as "Starlight"
Meanwhile, there is a benefit
planned to occur in the area of
Grass Valley and Nevada City, CA,
in February. stay tuned for details..
there is a thread discussing him
and his health in the last month
but i cannot find it with a search.


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 08:28 PM

I really enjoyed the Utah Phillips "Loafer's Glory" radio programs, and I'd buy recordings of the entire series if I could get them for a reasonable price. Is there any way to do that?
I used ot listen to the show on Sunday mornings, on the way to Mass. I wonder if Bruce Phillips would approve.... (somehow, I think he would)
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Marion
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 08:38 PM

Thanks for starting this thread, Mick. I also have this box set and there sure is a lot to it. My favourite songs on it are Orphan Train, Miner's Lullaby, and Goodnight Loving Trail. I sang Miner's Lullaby at my song circle last week, having learned it off the album, so I guess that meets his "songbook" intention.

I do have one reservation, though. While I think it's fabulous that he provides the back stories for each song, I would much rather have had them in the liner notes, or perhaps one of the CDs devoted to the introductions for all the songs. I want to play the songs over and over again, but I don't want to listen to the introductions over and over again. To me it's like being at a concert where the singer does a long and boring talk before each song and you wish he or she would get on with it - Utah's intros are interesting, but not after the tenth time you've heard them.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Effsee
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 09:35 PM

You ever tried programming your CD player Marion?


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Effsee
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 09:43 PM

Oh, hold on, I'm assuming the intros are all separate tracks. Are they?


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Midchuck
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 09:46 PM

Yes. CD #3, track 24, is where Utah slips out of contact with reality.

Nyuck, Nyuck.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Jeri
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 09:57 PM

[He's introducing Kendall's singing of 'Ashes On the Sea'.]


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Subject: RE: Review: Starlight on the Rails - Utah Phillips
From: Marion
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 11:36 PM

Good point Efsee - the intros are separate tracks, so if you play CDs on a computer or a programmable CD player, you can avoid the problem I'm having.


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