Landslide Records

REVIEW: Landslide Records 40th Anniversary Compilation


Landslide Records 40th Anniversary Compilation 

There’s a very romantic – and very outdated – image of running a record label: seeking out artists with a unique vision, then working to expose them to the masses. Truth is, music is treated as a commodity by the biggest of brokers, and the art often gets quashed by the rush to meet quarterly projections. A precious few musicians have established their own labels strictly to release their work – artistic integrity remains, but the money’s better. But that’s a small niche. For others who refuse to compromise, there are still a few small indie labels who have just enough clout to get the music into the most selective of ears. Landslide Records started with just such a purpose back in 1981, after Atlanta musician Bruce Hampton (in his pre-Colonel days) convinced his friend Michael Rothschild that his musical knowledge had a greater purpose. Originally established as an outlet for Hampton’s work with multi-instrumentalist Billy McPherson, Landslide evolved to feature a number of blues, jazz, rockabilly and roots artists, including debut records from bands very familiar to readers of Americana Highways. Now, both newbies and longtime fans can check out a collection of that music on Landslide Records 40th Anniversary, a two-CD set arriving just in time to hit the holiday wish lists of discerning listeners.

Given the origin story of Landslide Records, we pretty much have to start this discussion with the two tracks from the label’s first project, Col. Bruce Hampton & The Bronze Age. Landslide’s first release, Outside Looking Out, is represented on this collection with “King Greed,” an off-kilter ramble punctuated by a greasy, grimey sax solo from McPherson. Also included is 1982’s “Walking With Zambi (Try Hoodah),” a frenetic dash featuring McPherson’s standout guitar work. Another early signee to the label was percussionist David Earle Johnson, represented here with 1982’s “Route Two,” a quick-paced jaunt highlighted by Dan Wall’s work on organ.

Perhaps most fun for Americana and country listeners are the debuts of Webb Wilder, The Derek Trucks Band and Widespread Panic. Wilder and his Beatnecks show up with a nasty piece of rockabilly, “Dance For Daddy” – “I won’t argue with the preacher/About how man came to be/But the way you swerve and flaunt your curves/Momma you hit my monkey nerve” (Wilder also shows up with 2020’s honky-tonk pick-up, “Hit The Nail on the Head”). Trucks and his boys check in with a cover of John Coltrane’s “Mr P.C.”, which goes to show just how much jam bands are a shotgun pairing of jazz and Southern rock. And Panic shows up with a 1988 cover of band favorite J.J. Cale’s “Travelin” Light,” which clocks in at a shockingly concise three and a half minutes – barely longer than Cale’s original! No worries – all of WSP’s expert musicianship is fully on display.

Other highlights of the collection come from the bluesy Tinsley Ellis & The Heartfixers (their country swing-ish “Drivin’ Woman” features some great guitar licks), Mike Mattison’s version of a song he wrote with Trucks, “Midnight in Harlem” (which has become a favorite for Tedeschi Trucks Band concertgoers), and Piano Red’s barrelhouse stomper “Rockin’ With Red,” in which the famed piano man seems intent on banging his instrument clear through the stage floor. Piano Red was the stage name of Willie Lee Perryman, who later became better known as Dr. Feelgood, and that’s really the fun of a collection like this – digging up new knowledge to go with 40 years of tunes. With more releases slated for 2022, Landslide promises to keep fine-tuning our ears and educating our musical minds.
Other artists appearing on Landslide Records 40th Anniversary include The Bluesbusters, Damon Fowler, Scrapomatic, Delta Moon, Sean Costello, Jim Quick & Coastline, Nappy Brown, Cigar Store Indians, Geoff Achison, King Johnson, Dave Bartholomew, The Brains, Gary Bennett, Blueground Undergrass, Steam Donkeys, The Lost Continentals, Jan Smith, Curlew and Paul McCandless.

Go here to order Landslide Records 40th Anniversary (out October 29):

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Landslide Records 40th Anniversary Compilation

  1. FYI: There was a Bruce Baxter as well on Landslide. He was one of their producers/engineers who recorded a fine 1983 album of his own “Middle of the Night,” originally on Landslide (Cheap Producer Records now). Baxter has since passed away. Every track was melodic & Baxter’s singing was quite good. I don’t believe there was a follow up LP — but I did see his name as producer/arranger/engineer on other Athens artists’ albums.

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