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Bellemeade Sessions

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Tracklist and teeny sound bites


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1. $10.00 Gig (Michael Hurley)
2. Girl On The Billboard (H.Mills & W. Haynes)
3. Victoria (Michael Hurley)
4. Ruben's Train (Trad. Arr. Michael Hurley)
5 The Beggar's Terms (Michael Hurley)
6. Misery (Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan, Tiny Moore)
7. Pay No Attention to Alice (Tom T Hall)
8. Love Changing Blues (Blind Willie McTell)
9. English Nobleman (Michael Hurley)
10. Ghost Woman Blues (George Carter)
11. Sweet Thing (Trad. Arr. Michael Hurley)
Bellemeade Sessions
Frank Van den Elzen, Popwatch No. 10, January 1999

Not the new album promised in the interview in our last issue, but a collection of odds and ends recorded in various locales over the last 5 years and released to coincide with Doc Snock's first -ever extensive tour of the British Isles this summer. A kind of tour-only item, so to speak, released by the Irish Blue Navigator magazine that dedicates its pages to the life and music of Snock and friends, and that was also responsible for setting up said, successful, tour.

Although subtitled "Return to the Land of Lo-Fi", Bellemeade is certainly not a Daniel Johnston-style boombox affair, rather it's a clarification for the casual way it was recorded; a quality not alien to Hurley's albums in the first place. Of the 11 pieces here only 4 are originals, making this inbetweener almost a tribute to the century-old appalachian traditional and illustrious blues and country players the Snock holds dear.

The album opener "$10.00 Gig," pities one of Hurley's reclusive buddies whose only joy in life seems to be "the $10.00 gig at the end of the week", and has the Lemon Lillies supplying vocal harmonies. "Girl on the Billboard" is a cover of an authentic truck driving song with Will Rigby on drums, proving that there are more tasteful things for an ex-dB's member to do than back up Stipe & Co. In the liners Hurley says "I feel like I'm paid mostly for the truck driving I do between gigs. Doing the gig might only take a few hours while I might be 13 hours or more driving to it." Next up's an original instrumental beaut of guitar picking topped with mock trumpet (just lips, no brass). "Ruben's Train" is a stunning fretless banjo adaptation of an old mountain fiddle tune. I could go on at length about every single tune, there;'s literally no filler to be found here. Western swing icon Bob Will's "Misery" is hair raising in Hurley's hands and during the Jerry Roll-like barrel house piano version of Blind Willie McTell's "Love Changing Blues," Hurley busts a string of the upright but brings the song to an end without a blink, quavering along with the off notes. Amazing. "English Nobleman" is another self-penned one, inspired by the ramblin'-with Remailly days during which the two would converse in phony accents without falling out of character for days at end. On the closing instrumental Doc Snock fuses Apppalachian fiddle traditions with multi-string drones that almost recall Tony Conrad and in the process goes straight for the goose bumps, as the whole album basically does.

Yup, even a casual collection of Hurley ditties can fling a heart-skipping wrench into the system of everyone who cares to listen. Snap your copy up when you see it, the supply is not "unlimited." Great cover art too... of course.





ISSUE 2 September 1996

Introduction. Snock Goes to Germany - in '94 - and in '95. Parsnip Snips. Have Moicy Anniversary Special - contributions from: Dave Reisch; Bill Nowlin; Michal Hurley; Peter Stampfel; Jeffrey Frederick; The Best Album of all Time by Greg Forman. Unholy Modal Rounders. Holy Modal Rounders '96. Discnews


ISSUE 1 February 1996

Introduction. First songs - 1964. Vermont - 1979. Snock live - 1979 Chicken Apparition. Spotlight. Blue Navigator - 1984