Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez – The New Bye & Bye

January 01, 1970

(Train Wreck Records)


Anyone who mistakenly believed that Chip Taylor’s career
began and ended with the two songs that brought him fame and fortune – “Angel
of the Morning” and “Wild Thing”-need look no further than this excellent
compendium of his more recent work in order to understand that his
accomplishments went well beyond. 
Following his retirement from the music biz in order to take up gambling
— another endeavor he accomplished quite well — Taylor returned to recording
in 2002 with a string of albums on the oddly dubbed Train Wreck Records. The
recordings not only solidified his standing as one of the foremost singer/songwriters
in the modern Country idiom, but they also found him nurturing a superb new
talent in a violinist and vocal novice named Carrie Rodriguez. Despite having
little in common, in either age or outlook, the two meshed from the get-go, and
their output over the course of the five years in which they worked together,
as documented herein, helped elevate both careers to remarkable new heights.


The New Bye & Bye effectively encapsulates that era, compiling more than a dozen songs from 2002
to 2007, as well as four new tracks (plus a reprise) that add further to their
dual legacy. Those recent recordings open the album with a tone that’s worn and
weathered. Taylor’s hushed vocals reveal more than a hint of resignation and
reflection, but the mellow melodies find the duo sounding as cozy and familiar
as a well-worn blanket. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine Willie Nelson or
Johnny Cash covering these songs, the former with “Play It Again Sam,” the
latter on “Your Name Is On My Lips.” Even in these original renditions, any of
these four could become new Country standards.


The recycled material is especially well chosen, and if it
reflects a freshness and vitality missing from the newer tracks, it’s only
because the two were clearly in the first bloom of their partnership when they
were originally recorded. The jaunty “Sweet Tequila Blues” and the down-home
carousing of “Laredo” and “Must Be the Whiskey” demonstrate their ability to
sing circles around each other with a mutual compatibility that was evident from
the get-go. Sentiment and sobriety are also infused in equal measure,
especially on bittersweet ballads like “Big Moon Shinin’,” “Let’s Leave This
Town”,” and “Memphis Texas,” songs that demonstrate how quickly their found
their footing. Live renditions of “Angel of the Morning” and “Wild Thing” may
seem all but obligatory, but the bulk of these new standards easily nudge those
old stand-bys from center stage.


It Again Sam,” “Big Moon Shinin’,” “Let’s Leave This Town,” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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