Sanford Clark
Shades
(Bear Family)

Now he builds houses in Payson, but nearly 40 years ago, Sanford Clark was recording in Phoenix for the minuscule M.C.I. label with Lee "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" Hazlewood. Specifically, in March 56, Clark was in the studio--with Waylon Jennings on guitar--recording what was to become a national hit, "The Fool." Heady stuff.

Now, so many years later, Shades gives us a healthy sampling (27 tracks compiled by KZON-FM's "Johnny D" Dixon) of this local artist, tracks cut from 1960 through 82. And what do we hear?

Well, Sanford is a deep-voiced, easygoing country troubadour, a guy who's as comfortable doing up-tempo Buck Owens fare--Where's the Door," "Step Aside"--as he is doing Waylon-style tunes such as "It's Nothing to Me" and "Mother Texas." Sometimes ol' Sanford's a little flat, but that just adds to the weepy majesty of his work. Any up-and-coming roots band would be well-advised to cop a few tunes from Clark's repertoire; I'd recommend a fast version of "The Girl on Death Row."--Peter Gilstrap

Quick Hypes
Mark Lanegan, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, (Sub Pop). This is a wrenching collection of dark-gray music from the singer for Screaming Trees, a Tom Waitsian helping of acoustic moodiness and beautiful, jagged vocals. Not the voice you want to hear answering the suicide hot line. In Lanegan's able hands, depression is not only enjoyable, but an art form.

Erroll Garner, The Essence of Erroll Garner, (Columbia/Legacy). It's hard to capture the identity of an artist such as Garner in 12 tracks, but this is about as close to the "essence" of his art as you can get. Though he never learned to read music, Garner's fluid, rhythmic playing is some of the most moving you'll hear. It's sweet and lovely--no confusing Monk or Bud Powell stuff going on--but listen to "Misty" and hear why genius is not attendant with innovation alone.

The Squirrels, Harsh Toke of Reality, (Popllama). Wicked, chipper genius from the dark corner of America, Seattle. Yes, there is a rather huge element of humor involved in this cover-ridden album, but don't discount the quality; beside the frantic, passionate vocals of Rob Morgan (some say he's superior even to Peter Tork), Toke features indie superstar Scott McCaughey and ex-Flamin' Groovies member Roy Loney. And the rels' version of "Let It Be" is the best Beatles cover I've ever heard. Really.

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