An earlier, -- and beautiful -- Jerry Jeff incarnation...
J. Winokur | Denver, CO USA | 08/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For many 'tried and true' Jerry Jeff fans, this very early album -- perhaps his best ever -- packs a few surprises. ....
The songs are singer-songwriter fare of extraordinary variety and depth, each composition crafted to perfection and -- with the exception of the haunting "Old Road" (just Jerry Jeff and his 'harp') -- each is backed by a then-premiere group of Nashville session musicians, and the unequaled wizard/picker (sometimes-crafter) of guitar and assorted stringed instruments, David Bromberg. (Bromberg was back playing recently, based in Baltimore.) The backing is precise, tasty, imaginative, tight, and allows our hero to shine without even slightly turning the recording into a country session. .... This recording comes before he drifted his way of life toward the "outlaw" persona he later enhanced -- w/the likes of, Waylon, Willie, Gary P. Nunn, Guy Clark, Ray Wiley Hubbard. ....
The first track I heard (WXPN, studying for a 'bar exam') was the rarely recalled "Fading Lady" -- a tender ballad about a 'material girl' -- NOT Madonna!! -- who measured guys' "good points by their gains." "Count all your jewelry and your lace; Count all the shoes beneath your bed; Then when you've counted all these 'things' in your head, Try and wipe the sorrow from your face...." The message echoed the decade it arrived in, and the music reflects its irony. The lovely gem is set against Bromberg's fittingly 'lace-like' picking. Raised on symphonic music, moving toward rock via songs like Whiter Shade of Pale, We Can Talk About it Now, and even Martha, My Dear, I loved the song from its opening bar, set aside the books I dreaded reviewing, and got the album that day.
To my surprise, the other Driftin' Way of Life songs were all very different from the gem-like Fading Lady (and from each other!). 'Gertrude' is a "Cajun Queen" workin the street down in New Orleans "where the wine and the laugh's a friend", "just trippin' and a'pickin' up men" -- rolling them for their cash or stash with one hand -- she 'rolled Jerry' with the other! The infectious number kicks along tightly and irresistably, complete with tack-tipped paino hammers -- the finest honky tonk I ever did hear. 'No Roots in Ramblin' and 'Dust on My Boots' are easy-rolling, super-tasty ballads, which move us all on down the line... Each song has its own place and style. 'Shell Game' calls to the uptight aspring professional something, following his parents' agenda -- unaware of his own: "Cast Off that shell; Don't resist the unknown; Your understandin's open handed; Hold it closed and you're alone..." The musicianship is so fine as to lure the uninitiated (thankfully!), and imprint the message that drew at least me to the West. ....
I hesitate only very slightly on this album (not even a half-star, really), and only in retrospect, because of an otherwise slick variation of the traditional "talking blues" I'd first heard from Dylan. "Ramblin' Scramblin'" -- which may captivate others as it initially did me -- does so with nasty lyrics degrading to to women (and men), long before "politically incorrect" was a gleam in Bill Maher's eye. .... Don't miss this one!"
Spike | Earth | 05/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...proud to be the 1st review on this (to borrow another folk'ish phrase) "diamond in the rough" in, what, 7 years...?? I've always been fondest of this Jerry Jeff album -- especially the way it really does weave in and out like the trials of the road and drifin', ramblin (scramblin) 'n all the high's 'n'lows out there.... it does show, as another reviewer noted prior, the young jerry jeff on the road before the whole 'Texas' thing he's become more immersed in... it's the late 60's 'n here's just a kid from, what, New York, who's "hitchhiked about a hundred-thousand miles" 'n "had good luck, lived in different styles" and it's a necessary book-end (not to mention one've my 3 favorite Walker albums) if you wanna know more about or collect more on this well-rounded legend...
Great piece of work here!
Spike | 07/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So 'just let it ride on your player'. If you like JJW you will like this album. I, personaly, was weened on Jerry Jeff so I might be a little biased. But, heck with it, just buy it, you'll like it. Ride on, Scamp!"
Not bad, Jerry
Spike | 11/02/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was recorded right before Jerry Jeff went home to Texas...he was still "Driftin' " around, and it shows on this album. Great folk CD with more of a country flavor than the Mr Bojangles. Songs include the histerical "Ramblin', Scramblin" and "Gertrude" and the lovely "Morning Song to Sally"...highly recommended to fans from the New Orleans area, for that seems to be the city concentrated on in this CD"