Atomic 10 and Other Sinatra Dreams 2015
Night Ride to Birmingham 2006
Green Voodoo 2002
A weird and wonderful mix of smokey jazz, country, rock 'n' roll and ballads...with the feel of hot, sweaty US nights.
Right, as we all know, Terry Clarke's actually from Reading, but sings as if he had spent his life in the Irish homeland of his father, and makes records in Texas with the greats of the Austin scene. It's a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world and yet Tel carries it off with style and panache.
If The Shelly River, hard to believe now a decade-old, was his highpoint of the '90s, then Green Voodoo is his classic for the new millennium.
Difficult to go wrong, really, when your lead guitar players are Jesse (Joe Ely) Taylor and John (Jerry Jeff Walker) Inmon, there's fab acoustic bass from David Heath and even the harmony vocals come from the likes of Rosie Flores, David Halley and Sarah Pierce.
Add a new star in the making, Italian pianist Stefano Intelisano, and drummer (and co-producer with Clarke) Merel Bregante, and you've got the basis for something special.
The title track kicks things off, Clarke's trademark mournful growl backed by the soft sway of country-tinged sounds that nevertheless sound quite unlike anything else. Lots of Irish titles - Angel In Ireland, Maureen's Irish Blues, My Irish Soul Wants You - but you could as easily be in a sweaty club in downtown New Orleans as on a Galway hillside. Other tracks take on a jazz crooner feel more reminiscent of Clarke's recent classy offerings... The New Sugaree, Cotton Town and the like. Nowhere do things crack open in the powerhouse sense of another of Clarke's finest moments, the Rhytm Oil album where he, Jesse and national guitar virtuoso Michael Messer, created one of the finest ever soundtracks for driving across the States. This is a dreamy, gently-rocking set with great tunes (Wild Honey Blues for instance) and one that could finally bring Clarke into the deserved big time.
It's been some time since I last heard from Clarke whose earlier albums, The Shelly River in particular, occupy a special place in my roots collection with his recollections of growing up in England and Ireland. Although Appaloosa released Sound of the Moon last year, this is his first new material since signing to Catfish (who recently reissued Shelly River) and while recorded in Austin with more of a Texas production inclination, again finds him in reflective Gaelic mood, bending his increasingly throaty warble to celebrations of his homeland and the memories it holds on songs like the Van Morrison-esque title track (his answer to Into The Mystic?), Maureen's Irish Blues, Goin1 Back To Belfast, Angel In Ireland (on which Rosie Flores contributes harmony), and the uptempo soul-rocking My Irish Soul Wants You.
I could live without The Mayo Mambo which really does live down to its title, but settle back and let the rolling joyful reverie that is The New Sugaree (dedicated to the late Fred Neil) wash over you, steep yourself in the Wild Honey Blues and feel the emotions well up as he sings Manhattan Blues, a post 9/11 tribute to the Irish-Americans who built this city and whose descendants died (royalties to the NY Police & Fire Widow's & Children's Benefit Fund) to protect it.
Like Wes McGhee, Terry Clarke is an American musician and songwriter trapped in the body of a Brit, a cultural ambiguity that has served neither very well, leaving them under-appreciated in two countries instead of one.
Clarke's work combines his devotion to his Irish heritage with an affinity for American styles, which has led his US label to dub his eighth album, which features songs titled Maureen's Irish Blues, Goin' Back to Belfast, Angel in Ireland, The Mayo Mambo and My Irish Soul Wants You, 'Celticana'.
Recorded in Austin, and featuring Jesse Taylor, John Inmon, David Halley, Rosie Flores, James Fenner, Sarah Pierce and Merel Bregante, Green Voodoo in large part ties together directions Clarke explored on The Shelly River, Lucky and The Sound of the Moon, integrating jazz, blues and rockabilly with Irish balladry to tremendous effect.
3rd COAST MUSIC
Green Voodoo continues to intellectually work the ground that is a marriage of the music of his ancestral Ireland and America's mystical south - Clarke's true love. This is Celticana, if you will.
In the world of Celticana, this collection is the yardstick. A touchstone. A bright shiny gem.
If you got Eric Taylor's 'Chicken Pie', then I'm sure Clarke's 'Wild Honey Blues' will become a personal favourite of yours.
If [Clarke's]The Shelly River has been judged a classic, then with Green Voodoo, Clarke has blasted the ball out of the park once again. The Green Voodoo is a wonderful and interesting place to go. Visit it soon and often.