“Tracy Nelson isn’t so lot a singer as she is a force field — a blues practitioner of tremendous vocal power and also emotional range.” —Alanna Nash, entertainment Weekly “ . . . A poor white girl . . .” —Etta James, from her autobiography, fury To Live She has actually one of the signature voices of she generation. That organic gift has always guided Tracy Nelson’s soul; indeed allowed her come both create and look for out the deeper songs regardless that niche or genre. A fierce singer of truth, a fractional of the deepest heartache, she is an ultimate communicator and has regularly destroyed audiences throughout decades the performing. She is among the few female singers who has had hit documents in both blues and also country genres, performing through everyone native Muddy Waters come Willie Nelson come Marcia Ball and also Irma Thomas, with Grammy® nominations for both she country and blues efforts. John Swenson, writing in Rolling Stone, asserted, “Tracy Nelson proves that the human voice is the many expressive instrument in creation.” with Victim of the Blues (Delta Groove), her 26th album in simply over 5 decades, she has actually circled fully, ago to the original music from southern Side Chicago the mesmerized her teenaged mind in the mid-1960s. “Several year ago,” Nelson discover now, “I to be driving with a friend across Montana, tooling down I-90 hauling a 1962 Bambi II Airstream trailer, the one the looks prefer a toaster. We were do a pilgrimage to Hebron, phibìc Dakota whereby my grand homesteaded and collected a 2000+ acre ranch i beg your pardon he marketed in the early ’60s.” The current owners were about to tear under the old claim shack and she wanted to go ago there one critical time. The auto windows to be down and national blues DJ invoice Wax was on their XM Satellite Radio — the an excellent Otis Spann’s “One an ext Mile,” native his 1964 call album, rolled the end of the truck speakers. “It had constantly been a track I want to do” Nelson recalls, “and that started me thinking about all the good Chicago blues songs and also artists I had actually heard in my developmental years, especially Muddy Waters and also Howlin’ Wolf. This was around the time i made my an initial record, Deep are the Roots.” She believed too of simply a few years earlier when she to be touring country as component of a famous Chicago blues revue, playing a the majority of blues festivals. “The music i heard earlier in the work in Chicago and also what ns was hearing native the current crop of blues plot bore small relation to every other.” From that memorable day in the Badlands listening “One much more Mile,” she determined it was time to make a record she says, through “some the those fine old songs and be together true and also authentic to the style as a Norwegian white girl (is the redundant?) from Wisconsin could control it.” This new album, Victim the the Blues, is a hand-picked arsenal of songs, most written by Nelson’s early heroes: Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Percy Mayfield, Lightning Hopkins, Joe Tex and also Howlin’ Wolf. She has actually chosen 11 songs of the day, ones that were spilling out of am radios from second-story apartments, rolled-down auto windows, and live native darkened clubs through exotic names like El Macambo. The album kicks off with a rollicking wolf tune, “You be Mine,” propelled by piano guy Jimmy Pugh (Robert Cray, man Lee Hooker, Etta James) and tough guitarist Mike Henderson (The Bluebloods), through slapping doghouse bass from Byron house (Robert Plant’s band of Joy) consummately conjuring Willie Dixon, as Tracy Nelson’s voice soars. One contemporary song, “Lead a horse to Water,” Nelson notes, “is by a exorbitant singer/songwriter called Earl Thomas, that should have been born in the era.” The snaky, shimmery pops Staples sound from guitarist Henderson together with the gospel lift vocals (Vicki Carrico, Reba Russell, john Cowan, terrycloth Tucker and also Nick Nixon) would make Mavis grin. A pair that Jimmy Reed (“the good Chicago blues communicator” —Robert Santelli) classics follows: “Shoot Him” pops prefer a wry firecracker, finish with rimshot/gunshot native drummer john Gardner (Earl Scruggs, The Dixie Chicks, James Taylor) and Henderson’s unanticipated (and dismayed) shout. Nelson’s pal and guest singer/piano mrs Marcia ball jumps in on the activity too. And on “It’s a Sin” Nelson delivers perfect slow-drag vocals. (Lyrics top top both room by mar Reed, Jimmy’s longtime collaborator and wife.) ladies howling never ever sounded so cursed classy in Wolf’s “Howlin’ because that My Baby.” right here Nelson is join by Texan and her other Blues Broad, Angela Strehli. “One more Mile,” the Otis Spann song that motivated the totality album, is a true tribute come the Delta/Chicago bluesmen who lugged their soul and also musical skill to future generations, and could be taken into consideration a bookend come Nelson’s 1968 version of her Memphis Slim namesake song, “Mother Earth.” Again, Nelson just tears the up, deeply, cathartically, achingly. Percy Mayfield’s minor-key masterpiece “Stranger in My very own Hometown” is seductively propulsive thanks to Gardner’s brushes and also Pugh’s touch top top the Hammond B-3. The dramatic and also tender caution Nelson offers in “The Love you Save,” a 1966 Joe Tex gem, pleads for intimate expertise in a timely, worldly way. A new Orleans second-line to win infuses Nelson’s take it on the dark Lightning Hopkin’s “Feel for this reason Bad” with the notion to dance far the pain. And when Nelson intones “feel prefer a ball video game on a merganser day,” you deserve to taste the humidity, and the clouds overhead. “Without Love,” written by Danny Small, made well known by Tom Jones, Irma Thomas and Elvis Presley, closes, splendid in presentation, humble and redemptive — ”I had dominated the world, yet what did ns have? without love, I had nothing at all.” Singer man Cowen matches Nelson’s explosive strength as the takes the high part and goes to church. The only piece top top this album from the very first generation blues era — replete v banjo, steppin’ bass from House and Pugh’s whorehouse piano — is by Ma Rainey, whom Nelson defines as “my first musical influence when I began to song seriously. It’s the location tune, ‘Victim the the Blues’ — and the story of mine life . . .” Nelson’s hear education began in the early on 1960s when, while cultivation up in Madison, Wisconsin, she immersed it s her in the R&B she heard beamed right into her bedroom indigenous Nashville’s WLAC-AM. “It was choose hearing music from Mars,” she recalls the the extraterrestrial sounds the stirred she so. As an undergrad in ~ the college of Wisconsin, she merged her musical passions singing blues and folk at coffeehouses and R&B in ~ frat parties as among three singers fronting a tape (including keyboardist Ben Sidran) referred to as the Fabulous Imitations. She was all of 18. In 1964 she went to Chicago to record her very first album, Deep room the Roots, created by Sam Charters and released on prestige Records. “We hired Charlie Musselwhite come play harp on that record and he and also I connected and also hung with each other for a while. I’d walk visit the in Chicago and he’d take me come the clubs ~ above the southern Side. That’s wherein I very first met Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.” A brief time later, Tracy relocated to san Francisco and, in the midst of that era’s psychedelic explosion, created Mother Earth, a team that was called after the fatalistic Memphis Slim track (which she sang at his 1988 funeral). Mother planet the group, true come its origin more grounded 보다 freaky, was nevertheless a major attraction at the Fillmore, whereby they mutual stages with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon. In 1968 Mother earth recorded its very first album, which consisted of Nelson’s very own composition “Down so Low.” It ended up being her signature song, and is taken into consideration by every a staggering achievement in the canon of rock music. Esquire magazine dubbed it “one of the five saddest songs ever before written.” It has actually been routinely covered by good women singers through the years, consisting of Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur and, in 2010, Cyndi Lauper, who decided it because that her very own Grammy-nominated blues album.
In 1969, the 2nd Mother earth album, Make a Joyful Noise, was tape-recorded in Nashville, leading Tracy to rent a house and later to buy a little farm in the area wherein she still resides today. As a side project, she soon videotaped Mother planet Presents Tracy Nelson Country because that which she coaxed Elvis Presley’s initial Sun-era guitarist Scotty Moore to co-produce (with Pete Drake) and play on she rendition of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All best Mama.” In a way, the phenomenon the is Tracy Nelson is encapsulated in that circumstance: it’s a blues song, made well known by a absent ’n’ roller, tape-recorded on a country album by a folkie turn Fillmore goddess, created by a rockabilly legend and also the preeminent pedal stole player that the day.
After six Mother earth albums because that Mercury Records and also Reprise Records, Nelson continued to record throughout the ’70s together a solo artist on miscellaneous labels. In 1974, she garnered her an initial Grammy nomination because that “After the Fire Is Gone,” a track from her Atlantic documents album, a fight duet with Willie Nelson the Tracy reprised on she 2003 album, Live From cell Block D. Willie (who, despite the rumors, is not pertained to Tracy although he contends they just might be “the illegitimate kids of Ozzie and also Harriet”) stated of Tracy’s impressive pipes, “that remarkable voice has only gotten better over the years.” The highlight of Nelson’s tenure v Rounder documents throughout the 1990s was surely Sing It!, the brilliant, big-selling 1998 album starring Nelson, swamp blues/rocker Marcia Ball and also soul queen Irma Thomas. “She has a magnificent voice. She can truly market a song,” claimed Thomas, and music doubters enthusiastically i agreeed —”Nelson consistently stops the show with her enormous, wraparound voice, transforming tunes like ‘In Tears’ from simple country-flavored ballads right into cathartic emotional experiences,” composed Michael allude (Austin American-Statesman). And drawing native the current albums she did with Memphis International, Nelson offered fans global the chance to hear she live (in the good jailhouse album heritage of Johnny Cash and B.B. King) when she released Live From cabinet Block D, tape-recorded at the West Tennessee Detention facility in Mason, Tennessee. It to be a profound experience for her and also reinforced “the worth of sharing music in every venue imaginable.” In so late July, 2010, Nelson to be featured top top NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” a little an ext than a month after the catastrophic fire the took the 100+ year old farmhouse she shared with longtime partner Mike Dysinger. She to be just beginning to deal with the results of losing her home and many the her an individual belongings. “The firemen told united state they can save one room — we had actually to decision —we stated ‘the studio.’” This album, Victim of the Blues, is the album that miraculously endured the fire. And also that is the reason that the very first people Nelson thanks in this album’s notes space the Burns, Tennessee Volunteer Fire Department. to date, there have been numerous benefits across the nation to aid the two in rebuilding their farmhouse on the land lock love. Seeing as how her an initial Grammy nomination to be for “After the Fire Is Gone,” with Willie Nelson, she would certainly say drolly, “It seemed prefer the perfect point to call these events.” Nelson had titled this album prior to the fire, so the irony is not missed top top her.
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Victim that the Blues is as deeply felt as anything she has recorded in her exceptional career; she is a spirit survivor.