“Black Market Crow” is a legacy edition offering from Coast Road Records, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the original release of Preacher Boy’s groundbreaking album “Crow.” This special collection features eight remastered tracks from the original album, plus seven never-before-available outtakes.
Originally released in the UK in 1998, “Crow” was by every measure the most ambitious album of Preacher Boy’s career. Featuring the virtuoso talents of The Backyard Funeral Band (Daniel Andrews, Brendan Rush Dance, Paul Johnson, and Danny Uzilevsky), the album offered a multi-instrumental soundscape that pulled together elements of blues, folk, jazz, and rock to provide a darkly textured complement to Preacher Boy’s rough-edged vocal delivery. The songs featured lyrically brooding narratives, with a dark theatricality that lent a junkyard noir effect to album as a whole. Famed music publication Melody Maker perhaps captured the album’s eclecticism best when they published the following review of “Crow”: “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.”
Despite earning some of the best reviews of Preacher Boy’s career, the album ultimately got lost in an unfortunate series of record label shuffles. It was never released beyond a small geographic circle, and ultimately went out of print. Not only would the songs on the official release disappear into the past, but so too would a number of outstanding outtakes.
The release of this legacy edition marks the first opportunity for Preacher Boy fans to finally acquire remastered tracks from the original release, as well as a selection of never-before-released outtakes.
The original artwork that graces the cover is by artist Amy Marinelli.
Man, I just revered this album when I was a young fella. I got it somewhere in my teens if I recall, and I just straight up wore it out.
So you can imagine how staggered I was when, on the very first Preacher Boy tour after the very first Preacher Boy album came out on Blind Pig Records, I was told that in the club where we were playin’ on whatever night it was, wherever we were (somewhere in Southern California, if I recall), was none other than Carey Bell! And, he’d come specifically to hear US play!
I mean, I really couldn’t believe it. But there he was, sittin’ like royalty, waitin’ to give me an audience. And I went up, and I introduced myself, and I said, “I think we’re label mates,” and I told him I was on Blind Pig Records, (there was a Carey Bell album out on Blind Pig), and he looked up at me (he was sitting, I was standing and leaning over to talk to him), and he said: “Fuck Blind Pig.”
Charlie Musselwhite – Stand Back! Here comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band
Here it is. Christo Redemptor.
I got to tour as the opening act for Charlie for about 3 weeks. One of the great tours of my love. I LOVED being on that tour, and I LOVE getting to say I toured with Charlie Musselwhite. Fuckin’ guy is a god, man. Listen to this album and tell me otherwise. I dare you.
Hard to believe it’s been nearly a decade-and-a-half since this album was recorded. Hard to believe, given how fresh it still sounds today.
Americana with a capital A was still a young genre when this album was coming together. The Americana Music Association had formed just a few years before. The Recording Academy wouldn’t add it as an official category for another 6 years. Americana didn’t make the dictionary as a real world until two years after that.
I don’t know whether Americana just hasn’t grown very much since it’s early days, or whether Dusty Wright is just a straight-up prophet, but this album sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.
It wasn’t recorded yesterday, however. It was recorded almost a decade-and-a-half ago, mostly in New York, and I was privileged to be a part of it.
Some of my personal favorite moments happen on the song Let The Wind Blow. The bounce and swing of this song is just irresistible, and I loved getting to both sing and play banjo on it. The whole album is pure singer-songwriter/folk/americana joy, but I’ll especially always treasure getting to be a part of that song.
Did you see this coming? I bet you didn’t. But yes, Preacher Boy is on the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy soundtrack.
Check the tracklist though, and you won’t see me. That’s because … wait for it … I’m a guest vocalist on a track by Prophet Omega!
Prophet Omega is the alter ego of Afro Joe, aka Joe Magistro, one of THE greatest drummers ever.
He is also, as this and all other Prophet Omega tracks will attest, funky as fuck, and creative as hell.
We’ll talk a great deal more about Afro Joe when we get to Will Scott’s album Gnawbone, but for now, check out “An Area Big Enough To Do It In” by Prophet Omega, and make sure you make an area big enough to dance in, cuz that’s what you’re gonna do when this jammy drops …
This album represents one of the highest points of my musical career.
The Preacher Boy album Crow had been released. The touring was over. The missus and I were moving to the wilds of Western Ireland.
En route, I played one solo acoustic show at the 12 Bar in London. The next morning, I found myself signed to a top-shelf booking agency.
A handful of weeks later, via a payphone on the Coast Road, I was asked if I wanted to go on the road supporting Eagle-Eye Cherry, whose song “Save Tonight” was at the time the most popular song on the planet. I said yes. Within days, I was in Paris, walking out on stage at the famed Olympia all by my lonesome, to face a crowd that didn’t know I was on the bill. I got an encore at the end of my set.
Fast forward a year or so. Eagle-Eye’s manager calls. Did I want to write a song with Eagle-Eye? I did. Turns out, Rick Rubin wanted to produce Eagle-Eye, but Eagle-Eye hadn’t had a chance to write hardly anything new—he’d been on the road for two years. I flew to New York, settled in with Eagle-Eye in a Tribeca apartment, and tried to write a song.
We wrote 6. Rick Rubin wanted to hear them. He wanted to come over. Eagle-Eye was so nervous, he asked me to leave for a while, until he know how it was going to go. He called me later and said it was going great, could I hurry back? I hurried back. We played all 6 songs for Rick Rubin while he sat on the couch. He loved them all.
Fast forward a few days, and I was at The Magic Shop. The Magic Shop! With Rick Rubin producing. With Eagle-Eye and the band that had recorded Save Tonight. The band I’d toured across 17 countries with. We recorded all 6 songs. Plus 6 more. We were at The Magic Shop. It was magic.
I am so grateful to Eagle-Eye for this record. For everything we did together. I am so grateful.
In case you don’t recognize the cover, the album was released in the US in slightly different form, as “Present/Future.”
I’m continuing on with my week of totally biased album recommendations, and offer today my second selection: Torch, by DI3.
Dave Isaacs is a staggeringly accomplished guitarist, songwriter, and singer. He’s based in Nashville now, where even amongst a sea of guitar players, he’s managed to stand out. I met him back when we both lived in New York, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
So I was especially overjoyed when Dave elected to cover a song of mine on this album. DI3 used to be The Dave Isaacs Trio, but as their “swamp-rock” evolved, the unit blossomed into a full and equal partnership, and DI3 became the official name of the ensemble.
The tune they cover here is the Preacher Boy tune “Nehemiah James,” but honestly, “cover” isn’t really the right word, as in this talented trio’s hands, the song is fully re-imagined, and becomes something altogether different. I remain deeply honored that they chose my song for this wonderful album.
The version here is slinky, sexy, jazzy, smoky, and insidiously groovy. It’s sort of like Mark Knopfler having a go at Stray Cut Strut with one of Tom Wait’s 70s era rhythm sections. Or Richard Thompson takin’ a turn with Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby backed by Billy Martin and Chris Wood.
To get some additional flavor of what the album has on offer, check out Some Things Don’t Burn, for its Copperhead Road-esque straight up roots rock, and Swamp Hog Blues for … well … for pretty much what you’d expect from a title like that!
Full disclosure: I’m starting this month off with a full week of album recommendations that I have a personal connection to. So yes, biased!
I begin with English art punks The Hungry Dog Brand, and their album Boy Meets Dog. The ensemble is fundamentally the brainchild of one Martin “Hungry Dog” Dowsing, who is one of the most genuine, considerate, intelligent, literate individuals you could ever hope to meet. He’s a novelist, and promoter, and a triple-threat singer, songwriter, and guitarist.
And this, is Boy Meets Dog.
I had the great pleasure of working with Hungry Dog on this album, as producer, occasional instrumentalist, and a bit of a co-writer here and there.
We did the album in Brixton, fueled by poor coffee, vegetarian Jamaican pasties, and a healthy dose of records by Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello, The Pogues, Ian Dury, and The Clash as lights to sight by.
I really love this record. Hungry Dog’s lyrics have a brilliant authenticity to them; they’re quirky, smart, and very English. He’s funny, a great storyteller, snarky as hell, and when he wants to be, a total heartbreaker.
Listen to The Lake. You’ll never forget the song. It’s like a Nick Cave murder ballad performed by Public Image Limited.
Listen to The Red Scarf. It’s like Talking With The Taxman-era Billy Bragg (think Levi Stubbs’ Tears) delivered by a Replacements cover band from Croydon.
Listen to A Long Way From Here. It’s a modern-day Waltzing Matilda, re-written by Phil Ochs.
Dowsing has been described as a punk poet, and that’s exactly right.
If you’ve heard The Devil’s Buttermilk before, you know it’s a bit of a different record in the Preacher Boy canon. In my mind, it’s almost a sort of collection of shorts, combined into a larger, longer film. Every song was really recorded to be its own self-contained universe, it’s own completed circle. The songs seemed to ask for that, and so that’s what I did. There is very little sonic continuity from song to song; this one is lighting fast and loaded with electric guitars, that one is soft, quiet, acoustic. This one is whispery and spooky and moody, that one is full bore and monstrous.
The album is populated with a lot of different characters. The destructive, white -trash-noir anti-hero of “On and on it goes,” the cracked Wiseblood-ian preacher of “Glory Man,” Patrick Jones, whose white bones close “The Dogs,” the neighborhood drunk in “Spaceman,” and more.
The theatricality and comparatively complicated instrumentation has meant that these songs don’t get played live very often—some of them I’ve never played live. But recently, I’ve committed to working out arrangements of a great many songs that I haven’t given much stage time to, and songs from The Devil’s Buttermilk are looming large on that list. Last night I played “On and on it goes,” “Rust,” and “Spaceman.” Two of those I’ve NEVER played live before, and “Spaceman” I haven’t performed live in over a decade. It was an adventurous evening.
Here’s a raw and straight-from-the-stage recording of “Spaceman” from last night: