Cameron D. (cruise2) from VAN NUYS, CA Reviewed on 1/1/2010...
Please note: The original 1986 release on Mercury only has 12 songs!
Terrific songs by a talented songwriter
Catherine S. Vodrey | East Liverpool, Ohio United States | 10/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Michelle Shocked was recorded in 1986 around a campfire in Kerrville, Texas. The occasion was the Kerrville Folk Festival, and the recording device was a Sony Walkman. Despite the lackluster equipment, Shocked's spiky, playful personality comes through in spades here, as does the astonishing assuredness of her singing. Though she sounds girlish here--and looks about fifteen years old on the cover--there is a maturity and depth to the songs and the phrasing that announce the presence of a mature musician.
Pete Lawrence, the man who recorded the songs, gets Shocked to explain some of the inspiration for the songs in between tunes, but for the most part you hear only Shocked, her guitar, and the crickets in the background. The effect is both immediate and intimate. "5:00 AM in Amsterdam" opens with Shocked sounding like an incredibly youthful Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell, but with a wry and boyish twist. On "Who Cares," there are little flashes of Billie Holiday, believe it or not, and a jut-jawed attitude of defiance that comes across loud and clear despite the primitive recording. "Down on Thomas St." is a brisk and frisky tune and "Fogtown" (about San Francisco, of course!) has a melancholy longing to it. Shocked is a master at conveying unspoken longing and mood without spelling everything out for her listeners. She's also got a great gift for getting your attention right off the bat, as she does with the opening lyrics to "Necktie":There was a naked man standing in an alley
And he weren't wearing no clothes . . .Fans of Shocked's later albums will recognize the Elvis-flavored tune "(Don't You Mess Around with) My Little Sister" and "The Secret to a Long Life (is Knowing When It's Time to Go)." Less successful is "The Incomplete Image," a spoken-word piece interspersed with propulsive guitar work. Overall, though, especially given the inauspicious circumstances under which the album was recorded, this is a terrific album hinting at the maturity and brilliance Shocked would display on later albums."
Zach | Logan, UT | 07/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This record is simply a great folk album. It is Michelle Shocked at her most basic, with only a guitar, her voice, and a handful of songs. Despite being captured on a Sony Walkman, this recording captures the sheer power and talent that Shocked possessed even at this early point in her career. The performance is reminiscient of the the 1960s and the folk revival of the time. A listen to this album will give you a great collection of songs. All original and all good, I can say that this has been one of my favorite albums since I first listened to it. If you're a fan of folk or acoustic pop, do whatever you can to find a copy of this recording."
What a gem!
Zach | 07/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of story telling songs, sung and told so engagingly, invites the listener to join Michelle at her campfire and enjoy the glow. Irony, sense of humor, characters painted with the brushstrokes of humanity bring the music alive in a way that production can't touch. My favorites are Secret Admirer and Necktie. Drive across the country with this CD and sing along with her, again and again."
Unpretentious and great fun
John Hempton | 03/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would have loved to be sitting around that campfire. This isthe best album that Michelle Shocked has done. Indeed it is the ONLYalbum she had done that deserves three listens. It is just perfect folk.
... My recommendation. Buy this, which a unpretentious and written before she had many good songs. (But where those she had were excellent.)"