Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Continental Drifters Continental Drifters 1994

The Continental Drifters were a fabulous band that made multiple great recordings that somehow went largely unnoticed. There's no logical reason for it. They had several fine songwriters, three or four lead singers, former members of The Cowsills, The dbs, Dream Syndicate, and The Bangles, and a rich blend of rootsy Americana, New Orleans swamp rock, and intelligent pop songcraft.

This is their debut (an earlier 1993 recording wasn't released until 2003, and that was a different line-up), and it's shockingly good for the first time out. With five different band members writing songs, you get their best work, plus some very well selected covers.

They do Gram Parson's Song For You, Michael Nesmith's Some Of Shelly's Blues, The Box Top's Soul Deep (a great choice, and a perfect version), and Goffin-King's (and Dusty Springfield's) I Can't Make It Alone. It's a brilliantly esoteric mix, and they put a unique stamp on every one of them. The originals are all top quality, too.

Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson are an interestingly rough mix, and Cowsill is especially expressive in an raw, edgy, angry way that cuts right to the bone. Peter Holsapple and Carlo Nuccio are both good singers and songwriters. The band is all so talented and they work so well together, it had to be a huge hit. But of course it wasn't.

The band went on to make two more near-perfect studio records, Vermilion 1999, and Better Day 2001, and a Sandy Denny/Richard Thompson tribute called Listen, Listen (and you should), also in 2001, on the German Blue Rose label, that apparently is something of a collectable, gauging by the outlandish used CD prices.

I like them all, but none more than this debut.

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