Friday, June 2, 2023

Tav Falco Panther Burns: “Nashville Sessions: Live At Bridgestone Arena Studios” (2023) Vinyl Review

Tav Falco Panther Burns went on tour in 2022, and toward the end of the tour went into the Bridge Arena Studios to record much of what they’d been performing at their shows for Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country station. The songs were performed live, and Tav Falco included some spoken word introductions to certain songs. These tracks are now being released on vinyl. The banter is not included on the vinyl edition, but can be heard on the digital version. The songs chosen for play here come from several different Tav Falco Panther Burns albums, from 1984’s Now! to 2015’s Command Performance, and also from a couple of Tav Falco solo albums. And as you’d expect, the music is excellent. The record also comes with a small tour poster, which lists the concert dates. Tav Falco Panther Burns is made up of Tav Falco on lead vocals and guitar, Mario Monterosso on lead guitar and backing vocals, Giuseppe Sangirardi on bass and backing vocals, and Walter Brunetti on drums and backing vocals. This album follows Tav Falco’s 2021 release, Club Car Zodiac, which was part of the Black Friday Record Store Day.

Side A

While the band and song introductions are not included on the record, the Intro to the entire performance is. The band establishes a good groove, over which Tav introduces himself, “This is Tav, Tav Falco, with the Unapproachable Panther Burns.” He says: “Tonight is the night to crack the imperialist black egg. Tonight is the night to forge a tragic alliance with the underground.” The band then goes into “About Maria Laveau,” a song that was included on the 2015 Panther Burns album Command Performance. This music is so cool right from the start, and I dig that electric guitar lead. This is a song of black magic, asking if all the rumors are true. Ah, from the feel of this music, we cannot doubt that they are. And so we believe she is still walking the streets of New Orleans, and probably enjoying this song. That’s followed by a wonderful rendition of the standard “Sway,” a song that was a hit for Dean Martin, and one that this band included on the 1995 album Shadow Dancer. They do such a good job with it, Tav Falco making it his own. When he sings, “Only you have the magic technique/When we sway, I go weak,” we can feel the magic working.

Also recorded for Shadow Dancer was a version of “Have I The Right,” a song by The Honeycombs, and here the band delivers a completely fun rendition, taking us back to the mid-1960s. I’ve always loved this song, and these guys deliver an excellent version. “Have I the right to touch you?” and “Have I the right to kiss you?” now seem like those preliminary questions men are encouraged to ask before proceeding with a woman. Then from Tav Falco’s Disappearing Angels, which was released the year after Shadow Dancer, comes “He’ll Have To Go,” a song written and originally recorded by Jim Reeves. Tav Falco Panther Burns deliver it at a somewhat faster pace than the original, making the song rock. “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone/And let’s pretend we’re together all alone/Well, tell that man to cut the jukebox way down low/You can tell every, everybody they got to go.” They then go back to Shadow Dancer for “Born Too Late,” a song written by Tav Falco, and one of my favorites. It’s funny, the way he delivers lines like “Why did my parents hesitate/And have me at a later date.” The delivery is so serious, which is part of what makes it so funny, as he leads us in a strange, delightful dance. And check out that guitar work. “The future is already obsolete and out-of-date.”

The band then dips into the blues with a cover of Memphis Minnie’s “Me And My Chauffeur Blues,” a song Tav Falco Panther Burns included on the 2015 album Command Performance. This one also features some delicious guitar work, as well as a cool bass line. Tav Falco seems to have a good time with everything he does, and that includes the blues. He turns the blues into a party, into a dance. This track is another of the record’s highlights. Then from the 2018 Tav Falco album Cabaret Of Daggers, the band chooses “Strange (Libertango),” a song that was originally “Libertango,” composed by Astor Piazzolla, then turned into “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)” by Grace Jones. Panther Burns give us a delicious rendition. “Dance in bars and restaurants/Home with anyone who wants/Strange, she’s standing there alone/Staring eyes chill me to the bone.” I love the somewhat creepy, haunted aspect to his delivery, like music to a dance that takes place on certain nights at a cemetery.

Side B

The second side opens with a cover of “Treat Me Nice,” a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and recorded by Elvis Presley. There is a hint of something darker in this version. The line “Don’t ever kiss me once, kiss me twice” is delivered as a command. This is a song that Tav Falco had not previously included on any album. That’s followed by a cover of Sanford Clark’s “Go On Home,” a song told from the perspective of a guy who has gotten out of prison and is now faced with more trouble. But it is soon clear that the man he is facing is the one who is really in trouble. “I wasn’t looking for trouble/I never do/But the man I killed/Acted just like you,” he warns him. And I love those lines he sings to the man about his son, “Though you ain’t much/I guess you’re all he’s got.” Anyway, he encourages the man to just walk away. Good advice.

“The Ballad Of The Rue De La Lune” is a song written by Tav Falco, and originally included on the 2010 Panther Burns album Conjurations: Séance For Deranged Lovers. “You slipped out of your dress/In such a hurry/And fell into my caress/Without a worry.” This is a cool tune. It’s followed by another original song, “Cuban Rebel Girl,” this one included on the Panther Burns release Now! from 1984. At the beginning, Tav sings, “She wore a black fur hat/And cherry red lipstick.” Hey, that’s enough for me, I’m sold. I love the unusual descriptions in this song, with Tav singing that she’s “running like a squirrel,” and then “She moves like she’s walking on broken glasses.” That’s a great line, playing on our expectation of the word being “glass.”

The band then delivers a couple more from Command Performance. First is the seriously fun and energetic “Bangkok,” which was co-written by Alex Chilton, who was an original member of Panther Burns. “Here’s a little thing that’s gonna please ya,” Tav sings at the beginning of this song, and he’s not wrong. That’s followed by “Master Of Chaos,” an original song written by Tav Falco and Mario Monterosso. The guitar work could charm the snakes from their baskets, the jewelry from the rich, and the dead from their rest. Ah, who could help but fall for this music? And if you don’t, it will get you anyway. It’s that sure of itself, announcing itself with a thumping beat. The album then ends with a cover of Troy Shondell’s “Girl After Girl,” a song that was also covered by Alex Chilton on his 1979 album Like Flies On Sherbert. When Tav sings about the girl haunting him, we get the sense he might mean it literally. And I love that guitar work near the end.

Record Track List

Side A

  1. Intro
  2. About Marie Laveau
  3. Sway
  4. Have I The Right
  5. He’ll Have To Go
  6. Born Too Late
  7. Me And My Chauffeur Blues
  8. Strange (Libertango)

Side B

  1. Treat Me Nice
  2. Go On Home
  3. The Ballad Of The Rue De La Lune
  4. Cuban Rebel Girl
  5. Bangkok
  6. Master Of Chaos
  7. Girl After Girl

Nashville Sessions: Live At Bridgestone Arena Studios is scheduled to be released on vinyl on June 21, 2023 through Org Music.

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