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CD Title:  Dog's Life Reviewed by:    Hank Beukema (beukema@optonline.net) Date: 8/21/05
Reviewer is from:  New York Rating:   ллллл  

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 Wrecks [Rex] Bell has that thing that David Bromberg and Mose Allison always had...I call it "cool" but you may call it something else... It doesn't really matter what you call it; he's still got it and you and I probably never will...It's the kind of thing that if you try to look directly at it, or try to hold on to it, it slips away, gone down the highway with that last girlfriend and all your money...And don't get me wrong here; it's not a "detached" kind of cool; no no Nanette, he's not detached at all, he's hot and cold and emotional as all hell....You just get the idea as you listen to him, that he knows something that the rest of us are only getting a glimpse of...On a wonderful Townes Van Zandt [if you don't know, Rex's dear friend, band mate and running buddy] song, "Be Here To Love Me", that old, elusive prize of singers, phrasing, is too light a word for what Rex does here...He sings it, yeah, and with a warm, wonderfully melodic voice, but you'd swear by the end of the song that he had just had a conversation with you...In other words, he makes it sound easy, not easy like Sunday Morning [man, whoever wrote that never had a hangover from Saturday night, did they?], but easy like that crossword puzzle in the back of the TV Guide...and there is a terrific Blood on the Tracks-like rhythm guitar goin on back there somewhere, besides the tasty little solo in the middle...On "Somebody To Impress", there's a bouncy little sashay goin on that made me want to run around the house with just a shirt and socks on doin Karaoke right along with our hero....."Sinkin" leads us into serious territory, for awhile, as we sit in on a gambler's chat with himself...He's looking in the mirror and we're sittin right there on his shoulder....Musically, this is a wonderful duet between Rex's mello-cello voice and a lovely violin that is right on the edge of bein a fiddle....When Rex says, I been looosin, with a little "who goosed me" voice, I dare you
not to smile and get a little chill...."Tower of Song" by that wonderful court-jester- of - the - apocalypse, Leonard Cohen, gives us a chance to hear Rex deal with the subtle nuances of his voice [can you believe I said something like that in a Rex Bell article?; I bet Rex can't either.] On "Dog's Life", Rex plays with words like Tiger Woods plays with that little ball....Outstanding slide guitar goin on here, too...."Rex's Blues", with the squeezebox and violin interplay, is even better than you already know it's gonna be...I mean, can you imagine being the guy that these words were written and sung for originally? "Ride the Blue wind high and free...." "There ain't no dark till somethin shines..." I know people that have these words on their walls, for God's sake...people that have tattoos of this song on their chest [over top of the classic crossed - out- exes names] Folks, sometimes there is just nothing left to say, but that you gotta get it, cause if you don't get it, you're missing out on one of the musical treats of this or any other year.... "Dollar Blues" is clever, witty, funny and pithy [you look it up, I'm not gonna tell you]... A real taste of what Rex must be like live...A full adult dose, I am sure..."One Lousy Song" opens with a terrific life- is- a- carnival sound, that accordion and violin combo again, and goes on to become a wonderful Band-like delicacy, that I find myself going back to often...Blaze Foley's "Oval Room" is flat out terrific; a dramatic background by-play goin down, circling round, taking off, finally like something from Townes's Rear View Mirror album [a moment of silence and a bowed head for That album]..."I Hate Love" is a love song to hate...Hey,YOU figure it out, I can only try and tell you what's here, I can't hold your hand the whole time, though....I know I've gone on a little long here, it must be my preachers training coming back, but, HEY, if you're still with me, campers, wake up for this one...Rex wraps up !
the show with the wonderful Diane Craig singing her song, "The Ghost of Townes Van Zandt"....I'll just say this; it's every thing you would want it to be, and more...So, listen, campers.....tell your friends at school tomorrow that you learned a little bit tonight....you learned about pithy, and subtle nuance, and the court-jester-of-the-apocalypse [I don't know what's wrong with me, really, I've tried to see a doctor, but.....], but the one thing I want you to walk away from your Cheerios remembering is that Rex Bell is a giant....a cool giant, but a giant nonetheless....and that due to the state of American radio in the year 2000, giants aren't exactly what they're playing.... and That's a shame, cause they might just be missing out on one of the best kept secrets in the great state of Texas....Rex Bell's Dog's Life....It is a piece of work that would make any man proud....It is a statement of blazing artistry and chilling vitality....Rex Bell, cool as he is, has taken a lifetime of experience and put it out there for the world to hear.....As a good friend of mine often says, Don't let the Rapture Pass you.

й Hank Beukema

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CD Title:  Live At The Old Quarter Reviewed by:  Tom Geddie Date: 10/3/04
Reviewer is from:  unknown Rating:  n/a  

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This is a review written by Tom Geddie for Buddy Magazine, Feb. 2004 and submitted to MTM by Mr. Geddie.....

J.T. Van Zandt and Wrecks Bell
Live At The Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe
Romeo Records

J.T. Van Zandt looks a lot like his father, Townes.  Sounds like him, sometimes, too.  And while it's not fair to compare anybody with one of our greatest songwriters, it's inevitable.  At least partially because J.T.'s own writing and performance style invite that comparison.  During the first song on "Live At The Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe", the dark plea "Take Me While I'm Strong", J.T. tells his maker that if he doesn't take him now, the devil will surely win.  "Don't wait until I'm falling down," he sings.  "Take me while I'm strong, don't let me linger on, I'm done with this world anyhow."  At the end, during applause, he says, "That's one of my happy songs."
J.T. goes on to share two more of his own songs, three of his dad's, one by Blaze Foley, and one public domain gospel song.
Rex "Wrecks" Bell, who owns the Old Quarter in Galveston, delivers the CDs other nine songs, including three by Townes, one by Foley, one by Mayo Thompson, one by Rich Minus, one by Lucinda Williams, and one of his own.
The Townes Van Zandt songs are "If I Needed You", "My Proud Mountains", and "Greensboro Woman", sung by J.T., and "Don't Take It Too Bad", "Marie", and "Lookin' For You" sung by Bell.  The CD isn't likely to make very many - or any - top 10 lists for 2004, but it's an interesting, soul-stirring listen for Townes Van Zandt fans.

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