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Karen Dalton - Green Rocky Road (1963)

Karen Dalton (1937 - 1993) to w Polsce chyba dosyć mało znana amerykańska wokalistka folkowa. Pierwszą płytą, na którą trafiłem jest prezentowana "Green Rocky Road" zawierająca nagrania z roku 1963 dokonane w jej domowym zaciszu. Karen urodziła się w indiańskiej rodzinie z plemienia Cherokee. Była jedną z ciekawszych postaci występujących na Greenwich Village obok Boba Dylana, Joan Baez czy eksperymentujących z brzmieniem Holy Modal Rounders. Nie mam pojęcia dlaczego nie zdobyła chociaż takiej samej popularności co Joan Baez. Chyba tylko dlatego, że nie była "laską" Dylana. Ma to oczywiście swoje pozytywne strony. Twórczość Karen jest bardzo kamerlana, "domowa" - pozbawiona egzaltacji i gwiazdorstwa. Za życia wydała tylko 2 płyty - "It´s So Hard to Tell" z 1969 roku i "In My Own Time" z 1971 - zarejestrowane z muzykami sesyjnymi - ale właśnie te "chałupnicze" nagrania wydane po latach oddają specyficzny klimat. Przyznam się, że mało jest wokalistek w historii muzyki, które zrobiły na mnie takie wrażenia jak nagrania Karen Dalton. Przez wiele lat walczyła z uzależnieniem alkoholowym i lekowym. Zmarła na AIDS

One of the endlessly repeated and therefore defining stories of Karen Dalton's career is that she hated recording so much that she had to be tricked into laying down the songs on her 1969 debut, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best. That may be true, but by now it's legend, portraying the contrary Okie as a true folk artist who rejected the commercial enterprise of making and selling music. It's not that cut and dry, of course: It seems she felt uncomfortable only with studios and practiced performances. In his liner notes for Koch Records' 1997 reissue of her debut, Peter Stampfel recalls that when Dalton was scheduled to sing harmonies on a Holy Modal Rounders album, she spent hours psyching herself up for the task, at one point even ripping out a bathroom sink.

Recording-- or, perhaps more specifically, being recorded-- apparently didn't trouble Dalton very much. Since her rediscovery in 2006 via Light in the Attic's reissue of her second and final album, In My Own Time, two recordings from the early 1960s have surfaced: The first, the two-disc Cotton Eyed Joe, is a recording of a live performance at the Attic in Boulder, Colorado, captured by Joe Loop. Released less than a year later, Green Rocky Road is a more intimate set that Dalton recorded herself at home on the same reel-to-reel tapes. Acting as vocalist, accompanist, engineer, and producer, she overdubs guitar over her banjo tracks and even invites guitarist Richard Tucker and Loop to play on it. You can even hear the phone ringing and Dalton talking to her mother.

Green Rocky Road is a much different listening experience than Cotton Eyed Joe, which she performed specifically for the small crowd around her, who listen raptly and applaud heartily. If that release is public, then Green Rocky Road is pointedly private. Here Dalton entertains no one but herself. In addition to singing traditional ballads like "Nottingham Town" and "Skillet Good and Greasy", she runs through pensive versions of "Ribbon Bow" and "Katie Cruel", which would appear later on her first and second albums respectively. They have all the informality of someone thinking aloud, which suits her signature vocals perfectly. "Ribbon Bow" sounds careful and simmering, with Dalton reaching down into her lower register to sound uncharacteristically foreboding-- an approach that adds a bit of malice to the lyrics. Her takes on "Katie Cruel" and "In the Evening" (which also appears on Cotton Eyed Joe) show just how malleable she considered these songs, open for any possible inflection or interpretation.

Dalton's primary accompaniment, as always, is her trusty banjo, which she plays in a clawfinger style to give these songs a distinctive style that fits her free-floating vocals nicely. It rings out brightly on the cowboy song "Whoopee Ti Yi Yo" and the lover's lament "Red Rockin' Chair", and she adds dissonant notes to make "Nottingham Town" sound like a raga. In overdubbing, she seems to consider tempos and time signatures almost as restricting as a real studio. Opener "Green Rocky Road" overlays an acoustic guitar over her banjo, but the two instruments don't always mesh, lending the song an unrehearsed emotional push and pull.

There's no telling what purpose she intended for these recordings, or if the mere act of setting these songs to tape was the extent of her endeavor. Possibly she might have planned to record over them, or give them away, or store them in some dusty attic box for another generation. Whatever the case, Green Rocky Road stands as a particularly personal statement, a career marker that shows where she was and what songs obsessed her at a particular moment. That we can listen to these songs nearly half a century later is certainly a benefit, but it never feels like her primary concern — Stephen M. Deusner (pitchfork.com)

Karen J. Dalton (born Karen J. Cariker) (July 19, 1937 – March 19, 1993) was an American folk blues singer and banjo player associated with the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene, particularly with Fred Neil and the Holy Modal Rounders as well as Bob Dylan.

Dalton, whose heritage was Cherokee, was born Karen J. Cariker in Enid, Oklahoma. Her bluesy, world-weary voice is often compared to that of iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday. She sang blues, folk, country, pop, Motown -- making over each song in her own style. She played the twelve string Gibson guitar and a long neck banjo.

In his 2004 autobiography, Bob Dylan wrote this in his description of discovering and joining the music scene at Greenwich Village's Cafe Wha? after arriving in New York City in 1961: "My favorite singer in the place was Karen Dalton. Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played guitar like Jimmy Reed... I sang with her a couple of times."

Dalton's second album, In My Own Time (1971), was recorded at Bearsville Studios and originally released by Woodstock Festival promoter Michael Lang's label, Just Sunshine Records. The album was produced and arranged by Harvey Brooks, who played bass on it. (Harvey Brooks played bass also on the Miles Davis album Bitches Brew, on the Bob Dylan album Highway 61 Revisited and on the Richie Havens album Mixed Bag.) Piano player Richard Bell guested on In My Own Time.

Its liner notes were written by Fred Neil and its cover photos were taken by Elliot Landy. Less well-known is Dalton's first album, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best (Capitol, 1969), which was re-released by Koch Records on CD in 1996.

Both Dalton's albums were re-released in November 2006: It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best, on the French Megaphone-Music label, included a bonus DVD featuring rare performance footage of Dalton. In My Own Time was re-released on CD and LP on November 7, 2006 by Light In The Attic Records.

The version of the song Something on Your Mind (composed by Dino Valenti) that is sung by Dalton on her album In My Own Time is the soundtrack during the ending credits of the 2007 film Margot at the Wedding, which was written and directed by Noah Baumbach and starred Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Known as "the folk singer's answer to Billie Holiday" and "Sweet Mother K.D.", Dalton is said to be the subject of the song Katie's Been Gone (composed by Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson) on the album The Basement Tapes by The Band and Bob Dylan. She struggled with drugs and alcohol for many years. It has been widely reported that she died in 1993 on the streets of New York City after an eight-year battle with AIDS.

However, an article in Uncut magazine confirmed that Dalton was actually being cared for by the guitarist Peter Walker in upstate New York during her last months. (wikipedia)

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4 komentarze:

Ankh pisze...


pausts pisze...

Głos,klimat prawdziwy i jedyny w swoim rodzaju.Dzięki za te nagrania!
P.S. Nie uwierzysz,ale dziś też miałem napisać o Karen!!!

Ankh pisze...

To faktycznie wyjątkowa wokalistka. Cieszę się, że Ci się podoba.

Rebel pisze...

Hi Ankh,

Thanks for this one and the Spirit's Model Shop.
Excellent posts as usual!
Can you update my Musicology link to my new blog http://rebelrebelnow.blogspot.com/ thanks. Ta Peace.

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