Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Textones: “Cedar Creek” (1987/2015) CD Review

Cedar Creek is the second full-length record from The Textones, a band fronted by Carla Olson. It was originally released in 1987, and has now been re-issued by Omnivore Recordings. I’m not quite as fond of this album as I am of the band’s first release, but there are still some really good tracks here, like “Austin” and “Gotta Get Back Home,” making this a disc worth listening to. Plus, this special re-issue includes eight bonus tracks, a live set the band did at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz on November 20, 1987. As with the re-issue of Midnight Mission, the band’s first album, this re-issue includes new liner notes by Mark Leviton.

Cedar Creek opens with “Not Afraid,” a bright pop tune written by bass player Joe Read, and featuring some nice harmonizing on the vocals and a good, though very brief, lead on saxophone. (For some reason, the rhyming of “self” with “shelf” always bothers me when I encounter it in a song, perhaps because it’s used in so many songs, and always feels forced.) “Every Angel In Heaven” has an excellent vocal performance by Carla Olson, who is backed by Julia, Maxine and Oren Waters, giving the song a good soul vibe. Pat Robinson plays piano on this track. “Every Angel In Heaven” was written by George Callins and Carla Olson.

One of my favorite tracks on this disc is “Austin,” written by Carla Olson. This is a sweeter, prettier, mellower song, with Carla delivering a beautiful vocal performance. “Austin’s looking more like L.A. every day.” And there is some nice work on saxophone by Tom Junior Morgan. Pat Robinson plays piano on this track. From what I’ve been hearing lately about Austin, this song might even be more pertinent today. “Gotta Get Back Home” is another of this album’s highlights, with a great beat and energy. The end features some nice work on harmonica by Ric Albin. This one was also written by Carla Olson.

“Cedar Creek,” the album’s title track, is another really strong song with a phenomenal vocal performance from Carla Olson, who wrote this song. Like on “Every Angel In Heaven,” she is backed by the Waters. And Tom Junior Morgan provides a nice lead on saxophone. The original album then concludes with “We Can Laugh About It,” a wonderful and emotionally engaging song written by Carla Olson and Kathy Valentine. (Kathy was an early member of The Textones, who left to join the Go-Go’s.)

Bonus Tracks

This special re-issue contains eight bonus tracks, a live set the band performed in November of 1987 in Santa Cruz, California. This set is made up of songs from their first two records, focusing more on Cedar Creek. They start with a nice, rousing version of “Gotta Get Back Home.” They keep things rocking with “Not Afraid,” “No Love In You” and “You Can Run.” They then take things down a bit with “Austin,” and the audience doesn’t seem as into this one as I am. They follow that with an energetic rendition of “Upset Me,” my favorite song from their first album, and round out the set with “Every Angel In Heaven” and “Standing In The Line.” There isn’t much stage banter, and there are inserted pauses between songs rather than simply having the audience noise continue between tunes. These tracks were previously unreleased.

CD Track List
  1. Not Afraid
  2. Every Angel In Heaven
  3. Another Soul Searcher
  4. One Love
  5. Austin
  6. Gotta Get Back Home
  7. You Can Run
  8. Cedar Creek
  9. We Can Laugh About It
  10. Gotta Get Back Home
  11. Not Afraid
  12. No Love In You
  13. You Can Run
  14. Austin
  15. Upset Me
  16. Every Angel In Heaven
  17. Standing In The Line 
This special re-issue of Cedar Creek was released on May 26, 2015 through Omnivore Recordings. Also released on that day was a re-issue of Midnight Mission.

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