Recorded in 1997, it
features Joey Burns and John Convertino backing up the Tucson guitarist. Listen
to a stream, below.
By Fred Mills
Sharp-eyed readers may recall a piece we ran in November of
2009 about late Tucson slide/National steel guitarist (and Giant Sand/Calexico sideman
and compadre) Rainer Ptacek, entitled “Desert Songs: Remembering Rainer Ptacek,
1951-1997.” Since his death from cancer there have been several archival releases
spearheaded by his widow Patti Keating along with the assistance and
encouragement of Howe Gelb, local archivist Jim Blackwood and others.
A new one is just out, Roll
Back the Years, recorded in July and August of 1997 just a few short months
before Rainer’s passing, featuring Calexico’s Joey Burns and John Convertino
backing him up on bass and drums. Recorded by Cliff Eager and restored/mastered
by Jim Blackwood, the album was assembled by David La Russa. According to La
“Rainer was at a high
point in his recovery from a brain tumor when these sessions were recorded. The
tribute album to Rainer, THE INNER FLAME had just been released, and a month
earlier his triumphant concert at the Performance Center in downtown Tucson (on
the eve of his final birthday) had taken place. Rainer’s long time recording
engineer Cliff Eager captured these recordings, as he had the Performance
Center concert, but less than a month after these sessions took place Rainer
suffered the relapse that would finally claim him in November of 1997.
“Rainer did enter the
studios at the urging of GIANT SAND front-man HOWE GELB one last time before he
passed away. Those sessions were issued in 2002 as THE FARM. As a result, these
session tapes lay tucked away, untouched for many years. That fact, by all
means, has nothing to do with the quality of the album at hand. ROLL BACK THE
YEARS captures the sound of three highly skilled musicians caught in the act of
listening to each other at the highest level. Here you will find Rainer working
on some of his newest compositions, as well as a brace of tunes he loved and
performed for years. Some took only one take to capture; others took up to 20
to get just right.”
Watch for the BLURT review of the album, and in the meantime
you can listen to it via a stream at the Rainer BandCamp page – and you can purchase
it there as well, should you so desire. We have a feeling you will.
Of additional note: the Fire Records label is planning on an extensive Rainer reissue campaign – over the years his albums came out on a number of different labels labels, including Germany’s Glitterhouse, so keeping track of his discography has been daunting in some respects – similar to what they’ve been doing recently with Giant Sand. You can keep track of Rainer updates at the Facebook page that’s been established.