"I've had this one for many, many years and I never get tired of it. Not a clinker in the bunch (I even like Polly Wolly). Leon has a sort of irreverent, off beat approach to these old jazz classics that is just plain fun to listen to. He'll improvise horn fanfare with just his lips, or mix words around to his liking that in no way diminishes the tune (as it usually does with other artists). Plus, he surrounds himself with real talent. His version of Ain't Misbehavin' would make Al Jolson himself beam with pride. I can't say enough good about this one. It's a keeper!"
Thank God I found this CD!!
PERFECT PILLOW | 05/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought the record when it first came out. My expensive stylii finally wore it out. I've never played a record till it wore away so thank God I found this CD today. Rum pum pum.... :-)"
PERFECT PILLOW | Omaha, NE USA | 09/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, Yeah. This is the stuff. Great Sunday afternoon mood music. Mom and Dad turned me onto this in the 70's when I was just a wee little lad. This album makes me want to nap on a row boat in the middle of a lake on a sunny day. Or just doze in a hammock under a shady tree. This is the work of a song-stylist, not just a singer. What Redbone does to some of these familiar standards is nothing short of perfection."
Old-timey tunes, a voice, a guitar and a throat-tromnet ; st
jayhikkss | 10/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A favourite musician of mine, the very secretive Leon Redbone has released twelve studio albums to this day and his first, "On the Track", was released on LP by Warner Bros. in 1975. This album eventually reached Gold LP status.
Leon Redbone applies his skills to the interpretation of an eclectic blend of musical styles including old-timey jazz, ragtime, acoustic folk, blues and country standards, minstrel show tunes and radio ditties coming from a period broadly extending to the turn of the century to WWII. There is a definite nostalgic feel, which relates Redbone's music to a more relaxed period in American musical history.
This artist displays his skills, mainly, as a singer and guitarist. First, of course, there is that voice: a deep, resonant, highly distinctive and somehow gravely baritone, sometimes mutating into his fabled "throat tromnet" that is his way to aurally approximate the sound of brass instruments. Redbone has a good mastery of the acoustic guitar (he also sometimes plays the banjo.) Although not a virtuoso, he fingerpicks in a ragtime style that allows him to sing and play at the same time. Chords, however, are played with dexterity.
Redbone's interpretations of his chosen material are certainly not faceless covers. If his goal is to communicate the music he loves, he nevertheless adopts an oft irreverent, off beat approach to these old classics and makes just plain fun to listen to these songs again. One aspect that I really like about his work is that everything is so laid-back. Besides this is an un-plugged recording without any electric instrument to be heard. Another pleasant aspect, to my ears, is the funny double-entendre of some of the lyrics. On the Track is a fantastic album filled with songs that make you feel like you have been time warped back to the first decades of the past century. His music makes me smile.
Redbone's first LP benefits immensely from the production work of famed jazz producer Joel Dorn. He is supported by a decidedly varied cast of top notch players, from Garnett Brown (trombone) to Steve Gadd (drums) to Joe Venuti (violin), to name a few. Their contributions are discreet and tastefully augment the highly developed and melody-intensive arrangements. It is clear that melodies, harmonies, and finesse figure highly in what Redbone purports to achieve.
The eleven selections include two Jimmie Rodgers compositions: "Sweet Mama Hurry Home Or I'll Be Gone" (with delightful steel guitar and clarinet) and "Desert Blues (Big Chief Buffalo Nickel)" that features delicate brass ensemble playing and Redbone's throat tromnet). "Big Time Woman" was written by Wilton Crawley, a clarinettist, who recorded it with an orchestra including Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton. Rodgers and Morton receive "very special thanks" from Redbone in the album credits.
The way he treats "Polly Wolly Doodle", the children song, in the same style as the rest of the album is amazing; Don McLean plays great banjo on this track.
Most of the other tunes are popular tunes written by celebrated songwriters (Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Fats Waller, Shelton Brooks, etc) and made famous by a truckload of well-known artists (Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Django Reinhardt, Bing Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, you name them!) However, the artists who are the most often associated with six of the tunes are the Mills Brothers. They were a remarkable and talented vocal group that was both long lasting and extremely popular. Their music was smooth, good natured and warm. In the beginning, they incorporated a novelty into their act: they "played" tuba, trombone, and trumpet by cupping their hands over their mouth. They thus influenced Redbone and his throat-tromnet. Their single musical instrument was ... an acoustic guitar. Those tracks are "Marie", "Lazybones", "Some of These Days", "Ain't Misbehavin'", "My Walking Stick" and "Lulu's Back In Town".
There is also one track titled "Haunted House" that is credited as "P.D. - Arranged by Leon Redbone". This blues ballad was recorded by Lonnie Johnson, the originator of the flat-picked single-note style of playing. The tune was recorded with this title by Lonnie Johnson and Elmer Snowden in 1960. However, it is a remake of "Blue Ghost Blues", which Johnson wrote and recorded in 1927. At the beginning of the tune, Redbone takes a rare fifty seconds guitar solo parts of which, to my ears, evoke the playing style of Lonnie Johnson but without a chance to attain the brilliance of Johnson's playing. Although vocally pleasing, I find this the weakest track on the album.
However, be warned: if you listen to this music and begin to dig it, it will prove very addictive. In which case I suggest you to buy more albums, preferably in chronological order of release.
Now, pour yourself your favourite drink and/or pick your favorite smoke (if this is still allowed in your town), sit yourself comfortably and enjoy this masterpiece.