Song, by Toad

Posts tagged bob frank and john murry

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Toadcast #86 – The Deathcast

death
DO NOT WORRY!  This is not a podcast stuffed full of tedious moralising and empty pontificating and generally depressing garbage about a subject far too weighty and philosophical for this sort of half-arsed internet enterprise.  In fact, towards the end it really gets quite chipper.

Basically, there are so many extraordinarily good murder ballads that that particular aspect could so easily have entirely overtaken a podcast ostensibly about prison, crime and criminal justice.

This week, however, I have still managed to marginalise the role of the murder ballad, because the concept of death incorporates so many disparate emotions and aspects that simply doing a whole podcast about murderous folk tales and their musical counterparts seemed unnecessarily narrow.  So you get this.  Which starts out a little heavy but becomes positively gleeful by the end, I promise you.

Toadcast #86 – The Deathcast

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01. Willard Grant Conspiracy – Painter Blue (03.01)
02. Samamidon – O Death (12.33)
03. Eels – Going to Your Funeral (22.31)
04. Melanie Rivaud & Strange Weather – The Fall of Troy (Tom Waits Cover) (25.05)
05. Bob Frank & John Murry – Jesse Washington 1916 (31.53)
06. Bruce Springsteen – Dead Man Walking (37.02)
07. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Up Jumped the Devil (41.15)
08. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Green Fields of France (48.26)
09. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Tramp the Dirt Down (57.02)
10. Chumbawamba – Passenger List for Doomed Flight 1471 (66.35)

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Toad Top 10, 2007: 16-20

16. Bob Frank & John Murry – World Without End

#16

It’s a deep, emotional and an amazingly harrowing record.  True murder ballads delivered with pathos, yet never shying away from their inherent horror.   Johnny Cash and Robert Fisher would be proud.

Bob Frank & John Murry – Joaquin Murietta, 1853

review | website | buy

17. Ice Cream Socialists – Belles & Missiles

#17

Sheer, unhinged mental brilliance.  Imagine if indie, pop, rock, and at times even classical, country and hip-hop were let loose in the circus and sung by Kermit the Frog.  It may sound nuts but it works.  Sheer genius.

Ice Cream Socialists – Zagnut’s Revenge

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18. The Mabuses – Mabused

Mabused

The indie band that kidnapped a couple of classical musicians and told them they were in a new band now, without ever explaining to them what indie music is.  It’s laid back indie pop, but the musical inventiveness lifts above just about anything else in this particular territory.

The Mabuses – Havana

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19. Paris Motel – In the Saltpetriere

In the Salpetriere

I think I’ve described these guys as the band on the Marie Celeste and I don’t think I can better that.  Ethereal fairy tales, with a hint of the macabre, although I couldn’t find a single standout track for my Festive 50, the album as a whole is one of the best I’ve heard this year.

Paris Motel –  City of Ladies

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20. Donny Hue & the Colors – Folkmote

Folkmote

I’ll admit this didn’t seem that special to me at the time, although I enjoyed it very much.  There’s just something I find incredibly satisfying about it.  I couldn’t quantify what it is about this album, but it sits perfectly with me nonetheless.

Donny Hue & the Colors – Mountain Piece

review | website | buy

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Bob Frank & John Murry – World Without End

World Without End

Christ this is a bit harsh. No, actually that doesn’t even come close to doing it justice: harrowing is what this record is. And brilliant.

This is the real Murder Ballads. Taking ten songs of murders and deaths from the psychopath to the wrongly executed, Frank and Murry have turned them into deep, dark, portentous country folk ballads with genuine emotional impact. The comparisons are easy: as you might expect they occupy a sort of Williard Grant Conspiracy/Johnny Cash/Nick Cave territory but they also in voice and tempo can remind me a little of British Americana-merchant Lucky Jim’s first album.

The music is surprisingly variable, despite and oppressive air of foreboding throughout, and the adventurous arrangements lift this well clear of the albums of morose balladeering you might fear from the description. Glimpses of Nick Cave’s sinister god, Tom Waits’ deranged carnival and Johnny Cash’s tragic amorality tales drift in and out, adding layers and depth.

If you don’t like your gothic country noir then I guess you’d better steer clear, but honestly if this sounds like it’s vaguely in your territory then buy it. Evocative, paralysing ghost stories swirl around this record and grip you tight. And then you remind yourself, these are not stories, they are histories.

Bob Frank & John Murry – Tupelo Mississippi, 1936
Bob Frank & John Murry – Jesse Washington, 1916

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