Friday, 4 June 2010

Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert (Various Artists)

Venerated roots label Rounder have been in business for forty years; this disc presents highlights of the concert held last year at the Grand Old Opry House to celebrate that anniversary. (Actually, several of the performances on the disc have been culled from other shows at other venues.) While listeners will have their own complaints about who has - and more particularly, perhaps -who hasn’t been featured, it’s an enjoyable collection, showcasing a range of artists from across the label’s roster. Minnie Driver croons warm country-jazz, while Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas (!) offer a lively, crowd-pleasing set. Allison Krauss and Robert Plant seduce on "Rich Woman" from the massive Raising Sand, while Krauss also teams up with Union Station to unleash their disarming brand of elegance and twang on two lovely tracks from the album Lonely Runs Both Ways. Irma Thomas contributes a heartfelt "River is Waiting" and a strident "Don’t Mess With My Man" while Madeleine Peyroux delivers a spare, jazzy take on Leonard Cohen’s "Dance Me to the End of Love." There’s fine picking from Steve Martin and Bela Fleck, inspirational piety ("Why Shouldn’t We?") and a sturdy "He Thinks He’ll Keep Her" from Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the whole company assembles for an exuberant closing medley of "Angels Watching Over Me," "I’ll Fly Away" and "Down By The Riverside." It’s pleasant, tasteful, accomplished: like a Prairie Home Companion special - minus the more surreal interludes. Anyway, here’s to another forty years, guys. Preview below.

1 comment:

  1. Believe it or not, the headquarters of Rounder Records used to be located just down the street from where I live in Cambridge. I would go there to pick up some promotional goodies (Laura Nyro, Martha Wainwright, The Nields, Cheryl Wheeler, etc.) back when I was writing a music review column. They moved a few years ago, but they're still a terrific folk label.