Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham Live-Moments From This Theatre, 2005

Now here is a wonderful CD from a few years ago. Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham were very successful songwriters in the 60s and 70s, mostly writing soul and country songs and working as session musicians (especially Oldham, whose piano has graced many Memphis gems, and he has played recently with Drive By Truckers). This live recording was made during a 1988 tour of England and Ireland opening for Nick Lowe. Penn plays guitar and sings while Oldham adds harmony vocals and brilliant Wurlitzer piano. No rhythm section is needed. Penn's vocals are expressive, and he inhabits his own lyrics like an old pro, which, of course he is.

Sensitive readings of I'm Your Puppet, Cry Like A Baby, The Dark End Of The Street, A Woman Left Lonely, and Ol' Folks show Penn has a marvelously rich voice that just oozes tenderness. Great songs originally recorded by Aretha Franklin, the Box Tops, and others all surface here- these guys wrote a ton of hits- and every version on this CD is a revelation. As hard as it is to imagine two sixty-something dudes doing justice to Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, they pull it off. There are some delightful lyrical surprises on Lonely Women Make Good Lovers and Memphis Women and Chicken. There isn't a bad song in the bunch, and every performance is stellar.

Penn's guitar holds the songs together while Oldham's piano adds the color on most of these gems.
Oldham's piano is relaxed and playful, and it is always just the right touch. The recording is close-miked and sounds like they are sitting and playing in your living room. Highly recommended.


  1. Sorry, no downloads here. I still believe that artists deserve to be paid for their work. I don't know what you do for a living, but I'm guessing you don't do it for free.