Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The Best of Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, Pop, R&B
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Life is full of mysteries
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Life is full of mysteries. Janis Joplin becomes a musical icon. Tracy Nelson has always been something of an unknown. Yet Tracy possessed a far warmer, flexible, and expressive voice than Janis, which, as good as it was, always did pretty much the same thing. Tracy Nelson fans are often jealous of Janis Joplin's legend. On numerous occasions I have put "Down So Low" on to play to unsuspecting and unitiated friends. I refuse to tell them who it is, and invariably they will ask by the end of the song, "Is that Janis Joplin?" This album is marvelous testimony to just how good Tracy Nelson is. I do have a slight bone to pick with it. The title is a bit misleading: Mother Earth had many very, very good songs that featured other people singing lead than Tracy Nelson, and all of those songs were omitted. I think there are several reasons one can point to for Tracy Nelson's failure to become as large a legend as Janis Joplin. One is pointed to by Al Kooper in the liner notes accompanying the CD: she isn't easy to categorize. Is she rock? Folk? Blues? Country? I bought my copy at Tower Records, and they keep the album in Folk. I would have put it in Rock, but anyone will have to acknowledge that she defies categories.Another reason that Tracy Nelson has never been as widely acknowledged as she deserves is ironically because she did one song that was so stunning, so overwhelming, that all her other excellent work suffers by comparison. The song is, of course, "Down So Low." In my estimation, this song and Tracy's performance of it is one of the staggering achievements of the rock era. Greil Marcus once wrote that in this song Tracy Nelson goes to places that Janis Joplin only dreamed about. The song is so extraordinary that the album cover reads "The Best of Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth" followed by the words "Featuring Down So Low." And the entire text on the back of the CD does nothing but talk abou the song. In a way, this song destroyed her career, because it is such an amazing song and performance, that everything else in anyone's career is going to be a disappointment.Let me try to get at the point another way. Aretha Franklin, John Lennon, Jagger/Richards, Bob Dylan. These folks belong to the highest pinnacle of rock and roll success. They produced an enormous amount of work that is the standard by which everything else in rock is measured. Other performers can be often excellent, but they really don't come up to that standard. Sheryl Crow is great, but she isn't Bob Dylan. Ever. But in "Down So Low," Tracy Nelson did a song that was so great that only occasionally have the greatest figures in the history of rock and roll done as well. Yet her other work is not up to the level of that song. So, there are two reasons to get this album. One is to get familiar with one of the very greatest singers our country has produced in the last forty years. The other is to get your very own copy of one of the truly transcendant moments in the history of rock: "Down So Low.""
Essential Tracy Nelson
K. Kellerman | Syracuse, NY USA | 08/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back in the day, the Mother Earth album 'Living With the Animals' rarely left record player for more than a day - but it was somewhat a difficult record to listen to, because I had to keep jumping up to skip tracks. The album was schizophrenic in the extreme with a split personality that was sometimes Tracy Nelson country-gospel-influenced blues and the rest of the time so rather uninspired pop-rock by the band's guitarist. I loved, loved, loved the former, and felt rather ambivalent about the latter. This album contains only the former. There is so much good material here I don't know where to begin. The album contains almost all the Tracy-led cuts from 'Living With the Animals' and that is worth the price of admission. The two cuts with Mike Bloomfield (Butterfield Blues Band, Super Sessions) guesting contain some of his very best pure blues playing. There are constants in the quality of Tracy's voice, and in the country-gospel-blues blend that shapes the sound of all the material. Also, there is much pleasure to be found in hearing the improvement and changes that time brought to her vocal and keyboard performances, since the album is reasonably chronological. Finally, the notes, by Al Kooper, are detailed and informative. I thoroughly enjoy this compilation, listen to it all the time (again, 30 years later) and constantly astound friends who wonder how they could have overlooked such an impressive artist all this time"
Blues aficianados/music lovers, Don't miss this one!
tomfrompennsylvania | Greater Philadelphia | 12/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How grateful I am to those at Warner Brothers/Reprise for doing this well-deserved compilation for Tracy Nelson, and her remarkable work with Mother Earth, her band. A totally and thoroughly satisfying collection of blues originals and interpretations, it really doesn't get better than this - but this is in some ways beyond many a blues album, it has real spiritual power, too. Learn how majestic American music can be - with every word I can try to convince you with, you cannot go wrong in any way with this album, and you'll be richly rewarded with perhaps one of the best possible investments of your entertainment dollar here, and few of my other well-loved CD's in my large collection are of the rank of this well-made wonder, too much for words to say. Prepare to be totally stunned by this if you've never heard her. Thank-you for your vision, Tracy."