After decamping to England to sign with Manchester-based indie WahTup Records, the whole Preacher Boy carnival underwent a fairly radical sonic transfiguration, emerging as Preacher Boy and The Backyard Funeral Band, and featuring the multi-instrumental talents of Danny Uzilevsky, Paul Johnson, Dan Andrews, and Brendan Rush Dance.
Crow was the album born of the change. It was the result of months of rehearsal, and a progressive whittling down from some 60+ songs rehearsed, nearly 50 basic tracked, over 20 songs completed, and 14 songs mixed and mastered.
The album was a sort of glorious disaster, a kind of Captain Beefheart folk opera, as if Nick Cave had produced the Captain recording his own version of Neil Young’s Harvest, with lyrics by Carson McCullers. The reviews were priceless:
“Country blues that marry Nick Cave, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie and Tom Waits, honeymoon in the barroom with accordions and banjos and line the wedding bed with sheets of mutant folk, deviant campfire country and beatnik jazz.” –Melody Maker
“Preacher Boy is a songwriter of startling originality.” – MOJO
In retrospect, it could have been a lot of different albums. With so many songs to choose from, it could have been a blues record, a folk record, a gypsy record, a rock record, a cabaret record. Gothic acoustic chamber blues. Ultimately, it was all of that.
The point being, a lot of great performances were left on the cutting room floor. I’d like to share two of those with you here today. I discovered them recently on an old cassette that was hastily run down at the end of a long day’s session (the sound quality is not great, but the songs are there!). The cassette has been sitting in storage for nearly a decade-and-a-half, and the songs have never been heard publicly before; they were never played live, and never re-done on any other projects. The first is “Cold Trials Of The Dispossessed” and it features outstanding horn from Brendan Rush Dance. The second is “Veleaux.” Check out the outro (don’t be fooled by the long pause!) for some classic Telecaster work from Danny Uzilevsky. The rhythm section (Paul Johnson on drums and Dan Andrews on bass) is exemplary throughout.
How rare is Crow today? Well, there is a brand-new copy of it currently available on Amazon. Only $75!
It’s worth noting, that despite never having been released stateside, the album had an amazing impact on my career. Among other things, it earned the band a spot at Glastonbury, sharing stage space with the likes of Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Portishead. And it was the album that led Eagle-Eye Cherry to invite me on tour.
Anyhow, lyrics below, should you wish them …