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Seasick STEVE – I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left 2008

Posted in BLUES, Seasick STEVE on November 16, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Seasick STEVE – I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left 2008
2 Cd. Limited Ed.

Blues

Seasick Steve is a fantastic bluesman, I’m a huge fan, and I listen to Doghouse Music constantly, but I’m really sorry to say that this album just doesn’t quite do it for me.

Doghouse Music is a superb album – simple, straightforward, totally un-produced and packed with real feeling and passion. Thats what Seasick Steve means to me – his views and experiences of a different world, (one I hope I’ll never know) are powerful and honest, and he can really play that guitar too.

It was obvious that this album would be more commercial, more produced, because Steve is now a massive worldwide phenomenon (rightly so) and so there is alot more at stake. There are some great tracks on this record, and Steve does his best to shine through, but the band are wrong for him, the arrangements are wrong for him, and the mix is wrong for him too! If you listen really carefully, you can hear the fantastic rolling rhythms of doghouse music in the guitar riffs, but almost every song is drenched in bass and drums, and it is they who set the rhythm, NOT Steve! At times you have to strain to hear his guitar at all, due to the terrible mix, and even the vocals are too quiet on several numbers.

For me the problem is that this is just a blues record with Seasick Steve in the band. If you took him away, all you would have is a bunch of session players jamming the blues, and since he’s drowning in the mix half the time, thats all you have got on some of the tracks. No band can ever accompany Steve as well as he can accompany himself, and with such a polished, managed sound it ends up sounding rather clinical. A waste of a unique talent!

On the other hand, Steve seems happy with it, so good luck to him…but it just isn’t anything like what I was hoping for.
By Dominic L. Brown.
**
The most unlikely of stars, sixty-something Seasick Steve Wold might have started out with nothin’, but these days he can headline the Royal Albert Hall. The second solo album from the much travelled bluesman (and, let’s not forget, studio owner–he didn’t suddenly step off a boxcar with a demo tape in hand–refines the sound that made 2006’s Dog House Music so instantly appealing. Guests include Ruby Turner, KT Tunstall (playing rather than singing) and Nick Cave and Grinderman–Cave and Steve duet on their collaboration “Just Like a King”. The title track, “Started out With Nothin'”, is as catchy as it is wise, “One True” laments Steve’s late dog (“my one true friend”, of course) and the catchy full-band “Happy Man”, featuring Turner and Tunstall is as near as Seasick gets to offering a single. Without the visual impact of seeing an elderly man tell travel stories in between torturing a three string guitar while kicking a wooden box, I Started out With Nothin’ and I Still Got Most of It Left can only offer a simulacrum of his live show, but his crude appeal remains obvious even as his sound gets smoother. –Steve Jelbert
**
Californian blues man Seasick Steve has become notorious for his rebel outlaw spirit and signature dungarees with a bottle of Jack Daniels in the back pocket. The last twelve months really have been his year, with the unlikely star being nominated for ‘Best Live Act’ at 2008’s Mojo awards and winning ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ in 2007. Now back with his follow up to last year’s Dog House Blues, the man formerly known as Steve Wold invites us to nestle down on the porch, kick back and listen to his worldly tales once more.
Banging out the blues on his customised guitars is what Steve does best and you’d be hard pushed to find another bona fide ex-train rider who does it better. Steve has managed to translate his fiery live shows from the stage to the studio with his languid, treacly voice introducing most songs and even delving into a monologue on the bare explanation of why he can never stay still: My Youth. And on the title track Steve’s intro to a track about nothing never sounded so good.

Having made his TV debut on Later With Jools, Steve has called on Hollands’ favourite soul singing diva, Ruby Turner, to join him on the gospel infused Happy Man, while KT Tunstall backs up the legend on rhythm guitar. Pleading for a woman’s touch he sings, ”Oh this life has knocked me down to my knees, and I think it’s time I get a little bit of that promised land!I ain’t asking for much, just your sweet touch and for a little, little while I’ll be happy and such”. Steve is also keen to prove he’s no chancer with the ladies on Fly By Night and the collaborations keep coming with Nick Cave getting writing credits on the low key and perfect Just Like A King, featuring Grinderman.

Whether singing homegrown tales of women, riding trains (On Prospect Lane), faithful dogs (One True), drinking wine (Thunderbird), or a ‘how to’ guide for getting rid of bugs on a guitar he says he should have thrown out (Chiggers), Steve’s sincerity to the blues tradition he was taught by K.C. Douglas makes this a compelling down and dirty listen whose momentum takes you straight back on the trains with him – even though he probably has a bit more than nothing by now. –Sonja D’Cruze
From BBC.
**
There’s a song on this, the second album by the veteran, late-flowering blues maverick Seasick Steve, called “Thunderbird”. Delivered in a gravel-voiced holler that recalls Tom Waits and a series of twisted southern vowels that resemble Dr John, the song is a hymn to the cheapo fortified wine of the same name, a drink that’s popular with both grizzled hobos and students alike.
Rather fittingly, it appears to be students and grizzled hobos that comprise Seasick Steve’s core audience. Somehow, the sixtysomething guitarist and singer born Steve Wold has managed to resurrect and reinvent that long debased artform known as the blues, reclaiming it from the dreary boogie revivalists and finding a way of selling it to audiences brought up on The White Stripes.
He’s done this primarily by reconnecting the blues to its earliest solo incarnations, the music of Robert Johnson and Charlie Patton. Part of the reason why those early kings of the delta sound so haunted and ethereal today is because – unhampered by drummers of bass players – they didn’t follow such rigid, 12-bar-blues templates. A cycle might last 12 bars but it might just as easily be 11, 13 or 14 or 22 bars long, and they’d often switch time signature at random. Rarely would they use the same three-chord turnarounds: sometimes they’d play in a single key, or use weird chromatic chord changes.
Seasick Steve does all of this, and his one-man-band status also allows him to explore a more wayward tributary of the Mississippi – one in which Robert Johnson’s solo voyages merge with the avant garde soundscapes of Moondog, the minimalism of Steve Reich and the drone rock of the Velvet Underground. Like Moondog, Steve tries to recreate the sounds in his head by inventing his own mutant instruments (indeed, Steve’s three-stringed “piece of shit” Tranz Wonder guitar is not dissimilar from Moondog’s three-string Oo-yat-su). Like Reich, Steve’s use of repetition starts to invoke African kora players, building wave upon wave of hypnotic riffs which slowly mutate. And, like the Velvets, Steve is a master at using space, silence and single-key drones to hammer home his points.
Half of this album sees Steve Wold move away from his one-man-band USP by plugging in his guitar and tentatively collaborating with other musicians. “Just Like A King” is a majestic duet with Nick Cave, with backing from Cave’s slob-blues outfit Grinderman, where Cave adds a certain sadistic streak to Steve’s masochistic, lovelorn lyrics. Steve also employs a percussionist, Dan Magnussen from his old backing outfit the Level Devils. He sounds less convincing on tracks like “St Louis Slim” where he plays a full drum kit, but much more effective when he keeps things simple and merely replicates Seasick Steve’s footstomps, like on the gloriously shambolic “Prospect Lane” and “One True”, where the drums sound like they’re being played by a one-man-band wrestling with a bass drum strapped to his back and banging cymbals between his knees.
It all proves that Seasick Steve is at his strongest when he’s playing solo. The yearning love song “Walking Man” sees his bottleneck guitar accompanied only by a stomping foot, the singer’s solitude adding weight to the desperate, lovelorn lyric. “When you say jump I say how high”, he croons, a reminder that blues music’s “loser” status can teach Morrissey a thing or two about melancholy. Better still are the slow, ruminative slide guitar tracks like “Fly By Night” and “My Youth”. Here the wayward tempo – which speeds up and slows down to suit the delivery of the lyrics – has the effect of slowing down time and space, to the point that you feel you’re having some out-of-body experience in a hot southern swamp.
Best of all is the hypnotic guitar riffs and foot-stomps of “Chiggers”, which is a list of handy tips on how to defeat the bugs of the same name (it involves “pulling your socks up to your knees” and “washing your clothes on the hottest cycle”). “I’m gonna play it on this NASTY gee-tar that I should’ve thrown away a long time ago,” he apologetically announces in his introduction. Yet it’s exactly those nasty gee-tars that makes his music so thrillingly unique. Seasick Steve moves away from them at his peril.
Note: Only 2 tracks of the bonus disc are songs, the other 4 tracks are stories / spoken word.
**
01. Started out with nothing 3:41
02. Walking man 2:45
03. St. Louis slim 3:40
04. Happy man 3:34
05. Prospect line 2:22
06. Thunderbird 4:19
07. Fly by night 3:08
08. Just like a king 4:57
09. One true 3:17
10. Chiggers 5:24
11. My youth 2:26
12. The Letter 3:04
13. Levy Camp blues 3:40
14. Roll and tumble blues 13:21

Bonus Cd:
01. Train 2:10
02. Story 2:10
03. Breakfast 1:35
04. Heart attack 2:56
05. Lunch 2:03
06. Laughin’ to keep from cryin’ 3:00
**

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