Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Subway to the Country
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
For his 1969 sophomore effort, Ackles and producer Russ Miller ditched the rock band, brought in top session musicians and classically-trained arranger Fred Myrow (a sometime collaborator with Jim Morrison), and made a rec... more »
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For his 1969 sophomore effort, Ackles and producer Russ Miller ditched the rock band, brought in top session musicians and classically-trained arranger Fred Myrow (a sometime collaborator with Jim Morrison), and made a record closer to Brecht and Weill than the Beatles. The sweep of Ackles? lyrics is truly cinematic on such songs as "Main Line Saloon," "That?s No Reason to Cry," "Candy Man," "Out on the Road," "Cabin on the Mountain," "Woman River," "Inmates of the Constitution," and "Subway to the Country." Ambitious AND successful.
A TICKET FOR THE TRAIN
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Out of the three David Ackles discs I've purchased, this is my favorite. A friend backstage tossed his name my way, knowing my penchant for Leonard Cohen and Fred Neil.
There is only one song on this album that didn't thrill me. Still, in it's own way, "Candy Man" has a compelling narrative. How many songs do you know of that are about a wounded soldier turned candy salesman slipping porn to the kiddies? The rest of the record however, is great.
"Mainline Saloon" starts things off with a Kurt Weill-esque invitation to a bar where vice is a commodity. It has all the intensity of LOVE & HATE era Cohen. The kid gloves are off but Ackles' strong sense of melody and melancholy keep the patrons in line.
Next to "Down River"(off of his self-titled debut), "Out On The Road" & "Cabin On The Mountain" rank as some of Ackles the finest songs. "Out On The Road" just soars with passion. "Mountain" is an old fashioned murder ballad offering up a slight nod to Steven Foster and Ackles' gruff baritone rising up with lines like, "wish I never seen a knife" .
"Woman River" is enough to make you swoon: grey sunday skies and weeping willows by the Seine at dusk. There's a strong undercurrent lurking behind the surface of the lyrics here. Namely, that Love is one of the more rewarding forms of suicide.
Though,"Inmates Of The Institution" verges on pretentious territory, he manages to salvage it for me with the sincerity of his delivery. Perhaps he gets a touch over dramatic, but so what. Call it a guilty pleasure.
The last track, "Subway To The Country" wisely takes the edge off. Sure, it's sentimental but it grabs you. At his best, Ackles is haunting and this song could soothe many a woe if you gave it the time of day.
Vocally, if I were to make a comparison, a derranged Neil Diamond comes to mind. A bit more grizzled, and less overblown, but he's definitely got that rasp thing going on.
Musically, I'm reminded of Sondheim, with flashes of Randy Newman, early Tom Waits & Jimmy Webb . All of which does Ackles some disservice. He's just as or far more original than any I might have named. While it might not occur to fans of say, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits---Ackles may be right up your alley. In addition, Elvis Costello has mentioned him as a major influence.
After over 20 years of being out of print, a big hand should go to Electra records for re-issuing Ackles'catalogue. DAVID ACKLES & AMERICAN GOTHIC are also heartily recommended."
A true original that few have ever heard
Peter Baklava | Charles City, Iowa | 05/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"David Ackles song, "Down River" was covered by two English groups, Spooky Tooth and the Hollies, who deserve some points for having the taste to record it.
My familiarity with that song (which is a great one) led me to investigate Ackles' early albums when they were re-released by Collector's Choice Music. Of the three albums originally released on the Electra label, this one is my favorite, with "American Gothic" a close second. I prefer "Subway to the Country" because it seems like Ackles 'wears his heart on his sleeve' a little bit more on this album than on "Gothic".
Ackles gets categorized as a 'folk musician', but he is an anomaly in many respects. He was a pianist who sang in the manner of a cabaret performer, in a rich baritone voice. Each Ackles song is a carefully polished narrative. After listening to an Ackles album, you feel as if you've just been treated to a fine set of short stories by a master writer. Billy Joel got very rich styling himself as 'the Piano Man', but Ackles is the real, true poet, and he never got his due.
What a shame that people like Ackles and Nick Drake never were appreciated during the years that they recorded. If there is any justice in the world, maybe someday, someone will do a Broadway production of Ackles songs. Actually, there is enough material in his albums to produce several plays.
Buy this cd, find a day when your world is moving slowly, and give it the attention it deserves. It will sound 'different' to your ears at first, but as you listen, you may begin to feel things you had forgotten about for years.
Like Finding a Long Lost Friend
Chuck Mills | Delaware County, PA | 09/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Back in the 70s, around the time I graduated from college, I had somehow found the albums American Gothic by David Ackles, and his earlier self titled album. To this day American Gothic is one of my top 10 albums. But he was a rather obscure artist, and I never came across his other work. Then recently, scanning the internet I learned that he had died back in 1999, and his total album output was only 4 issues. I ordered the 2 I did not already possess, and was pleased with the quality and integrity of his craft in both "Subway to the Country" and "5 and Dime". "Subway to the Country" grew in sophistication from "David Ackles", both musically and lyrically. The music is increasingly in debt to the atonal style of Kurt Weill and his lyrics echo the abrupt mood swings and pervasive irony characteristic of Bertolt Brecht and the experimental theatre of the 1960s and '70s. Strangely, I like the more simple and less shocking material, specifically the title song, Main Line Saloon, and That's No Reason to Cry, more than I do the more dramatic material. As a stepping stone to his masterpiece, "American Gothic", this is a very fine prelude indeed. Hearing this CD, with 8 songs I had never heard before, was just like hearing the voice of a long lost friend. I only wish he were still with us to challenge our musical intelligence some more."