Search - Red Clay Ramblers :: Twisted Laurel 1976 / Merchants Lunch 1977

Twisted Laurel 1976 / Merchants Lunch 1977
Red Clay Ramblers
Twisted Laurel 1976 / Merchants Lunch 1977
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Red Clay Ramblers
Title: Twisted Laurel 1976 / Merchants Lunch 1977
Members Wishing: 7
Total Copies: 0
Label: Flying Fish Records
Release Date: 9/29/1992
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Classical
Styles: Bluegrass, Classic Country, Traditional Folk, Instruments, Strings
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Other Editions: Twisted Laurel/Merchants Lunch
UPCs: 018604005529, 018964005542

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CD Reviews

Great old stuff in a CD format
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is actually a combination of two older vinyl LPs that the Ramblers put out years ago. As such, it is a great introduction to the band. The Ramblers are extraordinarily talented musicians. They don't have any one "style." This CD has examples of their interests: old-time string band music, traditional Irish/Scottish tunes, bizarre 1920/30s "novelty" songs and their own populist ballads and rants.The Ramblers make you want to dance and sing. If you want to put together two CDs and get the full flavor of their stuff, get this one and then get "Rambler," which is the latest. They have had some changes in the band over the years, which makes comparing the old stuff to the new more interesting.I heard a rumor that they might be getting ready to do another CD (its been a couple of years since their last)."
Truly Unique Fun
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 12/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Red Clay Ramblers are simply the most fun band I've ever heard, and I've heard a lot of fun bands. Twisted Laurel and Merchants Lunch are their most accessible work, and easily their two best albums.

Their first release was a self-titled album issued on the Folkways label in 1974 "with Fiddlin' Al McCanless". The following year saw their first Flying Fish album, Stolen Love, and the liner notes from that LP reveal that the band was formed in the fall of 1972, and initially consisted of Bill Hicks, Tommy Thompson and Jim Watson. According to the notes by Bill Hicks, Mike Craver joined the band one year later, bringing with him "a fresh and exciting sensibility towards all sorts of traditional music... Though the band had a name before Mike joined, it was he who completed the circle and filled out the range of musical interests and potentials which the four of us had in common".

Much of the output of The Red Clay Ramblers consists of "old-timey" songs originally recorded by the pioneers of early recorded music. These can be well known songs or obscure ditties that have been generally overlooked by all but the most devoted enthusiasts. This CD includes material associated with such classic talents as Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon, W. C. Handy and Fats Waller. But they have also covered songs by Bessie Smith, tackled Child ballads, and unearthed material by obscure early artists such as Alfred Reed, The Mississippi Sheiks, the Red Fox Chasers and the Tenneva Ramblers. When reviving an old song, the Red Clay Ramblers lovingly reinvent the originals with fresh, up-to-date arrangements, but their approach is never irreverent or casual. It's clear they love the old records they mine so productively, which inevitably results in their breathing new life into everything they touch. While they are dead serious and respectful of the old music at all times, they generally choose light, breezy and especially humorous tunes to entertain us with, although these can be interspaced with more somber, dramatic and poignant pieces.

Which brings us to their second specialty - their own original compositions. As composers, their lyrics are extremely funny. Their use of the language at times rivals such well-known wits as Noel Coward or even Stephen Sondheim, although theirs is generally a more down-to-earth and less urbane view of the world at large than either of these theatre legends. I wish that more of their CD's would include song lyrics (this one does not). I have actually typed out the words to some of their songs so that friends who are new to their music can get the full impact of their hysterically funny verses. Although there is not a bad tune in the entire 25 songs included on this release, I would like to offer some comments on several standouts.

The Twisted Laurel material opens with a medley of Blue Jay and The Girl I Left Behind, both traditional, one an instrumental. It sets the mood, but doesn't define all that is to come.

Twisted Laurel is an original composition that sounds like it should be traditional. One must listen carefully to get the full imagery of Tommy Thompson's thoughtful lyrics.

The Hobo's Last Letter, written by Bill Hicks, is one of their specialty songs. It manages to be clever, funny and touching at the same time, and is one of my favorite songs of theirs.

The Telephone Girl is a lighthearted jingle that will leave you smiling - a lot. The tricky yet simple lyrics are deftly handled by the group.

Will You Miss Me was a done originally by the Carter Family, and receives the appropriate reverent treatment here.

The Ace, which opened side two of the Twisted Laurel vinyl, is one of their most clever original songs, and about as funny as they get. It concerns the mishaps of "The Ace with the sweaty brow" and his efforts to score in the back seat of his car. The misadventures of our hero and the hilarious climax will have you rolling on the floor. Play it many times until you get every word of their delicious wit.

The Corrugated Lady is a clever medley of a modern song perfectly paired with an old Mills Brothers hit, Paper Doll. At the juncture of the second chorus, both songs are sung simultaneously, and they come together in an amazing climax of harmony and wit. The delivery is ingenious and the harmony sublime.

I Was Only Teasing You is another severely funny song, although not written by the group. The "punch line" never fails to get a laugh.

Beale Street Blues, written by W. C. Handy and reworked by Charlie Poole as "Ramblin' Blues" in 1928, is surprisingly urbane and witty for it's time. "...If Beale Street could talk, if Beale Street could talk, married men would have to take their bed up and walk; except one or two who never drink booze, and the blind man on the corner who plays the Memphis Blues...". Like the song says, "I'd rather be here than any place I know".

The Merchants Lunch tracks start with The Merchants Lunch, a comic masterpiece. The goings-on at that Nashville diner are too complicated to summarize here, but I found myself playing this song over and over until I knew every word.

Woman Down in Memphis is a great, wailing blues tune, so perfectly realized that it's almost scary.

I've Got Plans is the wishful ode of a dreaming wannabe. Nice.

Daniel Prayed is an á cappella masterpiece of old-time harmony.

Sweet and Slow, by Fats Waller, is the perfectly arranged and vocalized album finale.

I can almost guarantee that a few listens of this gem will have you scouring the internet to track down the rest of their releases. They're that good.

All in all, highly recommended!"
Brings back memories
Seth Holmes | Massachusettes | 03/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I used to listen to the Red Clay Ramblers as a kid with my dad. I remember seeing them at the Red Fox when we lived near D.C. Saw this on Amazon and had to buy it. Its just as good as it was when I was a kid and I think I appreciate it even more now."