Ramsay Midwood Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant
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- by Leon Russell ~ Life Journey ~ $12.56
- Released: November 5, 2002
- Originally Released: 2002
- Label: Vanguard Records
- 2.Mohawk River
- 3.Monster Truck
- 4.Feed My Monkey
- 7.Spinnin' On This Rock
- 8.Alligator's Lament
- 9.Heaven's Toll
- 10.Grass'll Grow
- 11.Fisherman's Friend
- 12.Dreary Life - (hidden, bonus track)
Personnel: Ramsey Milwood (vocals, guitar); Randy Weeks (guitar, banjo, harmonica, drums); Josh Grange (guitar); Brantley Kearns (fiddle); Skip Edwards (accordion, piano, organ); Rami Jaffe (accordion, organ); Matt Margucci (trumpet); Donny McGough (piano, organ); Kip Boardman (piano, bass); Sheldon Gomberg (bass); Don Heffington, Kevin Jarvis (drums, percussion); Nelson Bragg (drums).
Producers: Randy Weeks, Kip Boardman, Donny McGough.
Originally released in 2000 on the German Glitterhouse label, Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant draws deep from two American wells. Traditional music nourishes these performances, but so does that part of American culture that produces idiosyncratic, somewhat twisted individualists. In a laconic drawl that recalls both Woody Guthrie and Levon Helm, Midwood projects an ageless, enigmatic quality; like Leon Redbone, he might be a prematurely rustic twentysomething, a crotchety yet poetic septuagenarian, or anything in between. Vivid images fill his lyrics and drift over shambling tracks marked by banjo plucks, beat-up old pianos, and other garage-sale relics. His songs offer romantic insights based on distant experience ("Feed My Monkey,"), bits of aphoristic wisdom fashioned as koans from a Dust Bowl Buddha ("Grass'll Grow"), reflections on redneck bravado ("Monster Truck,") and stream-of-consciousness ramblings that seem more wise than coherent ("Alligator's Lament.") Perhaps his most compelling lyric, "Spinnin' on a Rock," documents the murderous fantasy of a laid-off dockworker in couplets more reminiscent of a playground game. In one song, Midwood advises listeners to hear him out with the wry line, "Take a tip from a real smart feller." That's a suggestion worth listening to, given the broken-down brilliance of this debut. ~ Robert L. Doerschuk
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