Quick Hits: Shires, Prine, Pylon, Tweedy, Booker T, Replacements and The Staple Singers

Just dropping in to share a few things that popped up on my radar.

Amanda Shires has a new track “The Problem” that she’s releasing on September 28. Freaturing Jason Isbell, the song is about supporting someone through a very difficult time, and it is no coincidence that she is releasing the 28th, which is International Safe Abortion Day. All proceeds from the song will benefit The Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based abortion fund and reproductive justice organization. Give a listen to the song here:

The Squirrel Nut Zippers unleash Lost Songs Of Doc Souchon on September 25. Jimbo Mathus and the crew have recording ten tunes that conjure up the history of New Orleans music, ranging from Jelly Roll Morton’s “Animule Ball” to new band originals. They utilized clicks from classic Fleischer cartoons (with permission, of course) for the “Animule Ball” video.

How many songs do you think country legend Bobby Bare recorded that were penned by his pal, author/songwriter Shel Silverstein? 45? 78? How about 137! That is what you will find on the new Bear Family release, Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus (October 2). The material is drawn from Bare’s albums, Lullabys, Legends and Lies, Hard Time Hungrys, Singin’ in the Kitchen, Great American Saturday Night, Down & Dirty and Drunk & Crazy, and includes 25 previously unreleased tracks. The “Plus” in this 8-CD collection refers some included tunes that were written by other songwriters.

shel and bare

The great Dave Alvin has been rummaging through his trunk of recording and gathered up some semi-lost songs for From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings. Arriving November 20 on Yep Roc, the 16-song set includes his versions of songs by the likes of Willie DixonBob DylanEarl HookerDoug SahmPeter Case, Chris Smither, and Marty Robbins as well as some of his hard to find originals.

dave alvin rare

October 23 is a major date for cool releases. Jeff Tweedy’s latest solo album, Love Is The King, which he composed and recorded during the lockdown, gets its release, digtally, on the 23rd on dBpm Records. By the way, his sophomore book, How To Write One Song, comes out October 13th on Penguin Random House’s Dutton imprint (hopefully I will finish his first book by then).

Jim White, that Americana rapscallion, delivers his latest serving of colorful southern tales on Misfit’s Jubilee (yes, on October 23). Befitting his idiosyncratic way, he recorded this album primarily in Antwerp, Belgium; perhaps that accounts for its unusually upbeat tone.  

jim white-3

The mysterious Memphis cult musician Van Duren will see his first two albums Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism getting serious releases October 23 on CD, double LP, limited-edition colored vinyl and, for the first time, digital as Omnivore Recordings has had the music remastered from the original analog tapes. The 23rd is also when Omnivore serves up expanded reissues of Little Richard’s 1972’s The Second Coming and 1986’s Lifetime Friend. The former notably reunites him with his old producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell while the latter contains his hit “Great Gosh A’Mighty,’ which also appeared on the Down and Out in Beverly Hills soundtrack.


Real Gone Music has done a real deep dive into the oeuvre of Dream Syndicate frontman Steve Wynn with Decade. This Oct. 23rd release is an 11-CD collection that focuses on his post-Syndicate years 1995-2005. Its 166 tracks contains 57 unreleased tracks and another 31 rarities. Wynn always makes interesting music even it it sometimes is little heard by the general public – but here is a terrific opportunity to hear it!

Coming out digitally on the 23rd from Daptone Records is Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’s Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In), an all-covers collection with a bunch of  previously unreleased material (like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” for a TV commercial and “Rescue Me” that was recorded for, but not used in The Wolf of Wall Street motion picture soundtrack). Their version of the First Edition’s hit that serves are the 10-track album’s title, was the band’s first recording for Daptone.

sharon jones-2

One of my favorite Nashville players (and I mean that in the musical sense): Will Kimbrough. He has an album of pandemic-brewed tunes with the quite appropriate title, Spring Break (also October 23). These home-recorded acoustic songs are full of heart, soul, humor and intelligence. I mean how can not like an album containing the track, “The Late Great John Prine Blues,” even if its mood is indeed blue. Here’s another tune that tips its cap to Mr. Prine.


And speaking of Mr. Prine, September 25 holds the vinyl debut of Souvenirs, his 2000 Oh Boy! release that found him re-recording “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello In There” and more of his wonderful songs.


You can revisit his original recordings anew on October 23 when Rhino releases Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (1971-1980). This comprehensive 7-CD boxset includes the first seven studio albums of his career, which he made for Atlantic Records and Asylum Records: John Prine (1971), Diamonds In The Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973), Common Sense (1975), Bruised Orange (1978), Pink Cadillac (1979) and Storm Windows (1980). It’s something of a must-have for folks at any stage of their John Prine fandom. If you need more Prine, Austin City Limits launches its 46th season with a John Prine retrospective – one hour jammed with performances from John’s eight appearances on the show.

The Athens, Georgia cult heroes Pylon will be celebrated on November 6 courtesy of New West Records. Pylon Box is a comprehensive four LP box set packed with 47 tracks, including 18 previously unreleased recordings. It’ll hold the band’s studio albums Gyrate (1980) and Chomp (1983). which have been remastered from their original tapes and will be available on vinyl for the first time in nearly 35 years as well as the group’s first-ever recording, Razz Tape and Extra, an 11-song collection featuring a recording made prior to front-woman Vanessa Briscoe Hay joining the band, along with other fun stuff.

On November 13, New West will releases Randall Bramblett’s next album Pine Needle Fire and in January of next year, the label set to put out Steve Earle & the Dukes’ next album, which will all songs written by Justin Townes Earle with 100% of artist advances and royalties going to a trust for Justin’s daughter.

Also, keep an eye out on the 13th for The Flat Five’s latest Another World (Pravda Records/Augiedisc Records) This quintet, featuring some of Chicago’s finest: Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor (Neko Case, The Decemberists), Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough (NRBQ) and Alex Hall (J.D. McPherson), offers up a fun album of quirky jazzy, poppy music that it best heard than described.

gospel truthNovember 13 is a day stacked with Stax music for Craft Records. The Gospel Truth: The Complete Singles Collection spotlights The Gospel Truth Records, which was a short-lived Stax imprint. The compilation (which is out digitally now but on Nov. 13 as a 2-CD and 3-LP contains the A & B sides for each of the label’s 17 singles released between 1972-74. Reverend Maceo Woods and his Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir, The Rance Allen Group, Terry Lynn Community Choir, and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s People’s Choir of Operation Push are among the act showcased on this 3-LP set. Also on the 13th, Craft presents the 7-CD version of its sublime box set Come Go With Me, which salutes The Staple Singers sojourn on the Stax label. Spanning 1968–1974, this rousing collection offers a grand look into the acclaimed group’s work as it includes the albums Soul Folk in Action, We’ll Get Over, The Staple Swingers, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, Be What You Are, and City in the Sky along with a 11-track bonus rarities disc Singles, Live & More.

Of course, Saturday, September 26 is Record Store Day #2. And there is a ton of cool releases to seek out. Here are a few that caught my attention. Third Man is reissuing Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ What That Is! (1969) and Because Is In Your Mind (1970) Craft is putting out the 1970 album McLemore Avenue that finds Booker T & the MGs covering the Beatles. 1971 is represented by the Allman Brothers’ Fillmore West 1-31-71 concert 2-LP set.


Of more recent vintage, Transmit Sound debuts on vinyl Son Volt’s Live At The Orange Peel. The double LP – on orange vinyl of course – contains 21 tracks spanning Jay Farrar’s solo and Son Volt eras. Rhino has extracted The ReplacementsThe Complete Inconcerated Live set (from the Dead Man’s Pop boxset and will put it out on 3 LPs. The 29 songs represent the band’s entire June 2, 1989 concert at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. More ‘Mats material arrives on October 9 with a deluxe version of Pleased To Meet Me. 29 of the 55 tracks on 3-CD set have never been released; there includes demos, rough mixes, and outtakes as well as Bob Stinson’s last recordings with The Replacements from 1986. Here is a newly done official video for “Can’t Hardly Wait,” using footage first used in the memorable videos for “The Ledge” And “Alex Chilton.”    

About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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