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Howe Gelb - 7 Inches of 'Sno

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 10 / 10 / 2010

Howe Gelb - 7 Inches of 'Sno
Label: Orchestra Pit Recording Company
Format: 7"


Irresistible and wonderfully presented and packaged gospel-influenced double seven inch vinyl single from Giant Sand front man, Howe Gelb

Proof again that the majors could learn a thing or two from the small independent record companies. It may have nothing to do with the music (although given the images on the gatefold sleeve that could be debated) but the sleeve to this double 7” single release has got to be one of the best presented releases of this year. It’s a beautifully put together package which just makes those of us who grew up with the 7” single feel warm all over. The four songs featured over the two vinyl discs are not new. The two ‘main’ songs are both taken from last year’s live CD/DVD ‘Sno Angel-Winging It’ which followed on from Giant Sand main man Howe Gelb's hook-up with the Voices Of Praise gospel choir, ‘Sno Angel Like You’. It shouldn’t have worked of course; Gelb has never been an easy ride when it comes to the music he makes. It takes time to fully appreciate the beauty in his work and the thought of his spooky, disturbing music blended with that of a gospel choir just wouldn’t work without someone of Gelb’s calibre steering the whole thing. But it’s a wonderful sound that has emerged from this collaboration and even though the two songs on the second 7” are old Giant Sand songs for those yet to fall under the spell of Howe Gelb the 16 minutes that are spread over these two discs is the perfect way to discover this man’s extraordinary music. For those who have already bought the CD/DVD set the packaging of this double 7” set really is worth the price just to have these songs in this format and looking so good. ‘Nail in the Sky’ is the lead song on the first 7” and a better introduction would be hard to find. Gelb, given that these are live recordings, is at his vocal best. A lone guitar and the gospel choir are enough to send chills down your spine during the first 15 seconds of the song then Gelb’s dark brown talking/singing adds such atmosphere to the song it takes your breath away. It’s a stunning rendition and leaves you wanting more. Following on with Rainer Ptacek’s ‘Worried Spirits’ isn’t such a big surprise ; the blues infused desert-swept song is the kind of song we’ve come to expect from Gelb but the addition of the gospel choir feels and sounds so natural now this version of the song has been heard a few times. It feels so right. The two Giant Sand songs on the second disc, both taken from gigs in 2006, one in Glasgow and one in London, also lend themselves to the Gelb/gospel choir treatment. The first of these, ‘Neon Filler’ originally recorded on the Giant Sand ‘Ramp’ album takes on a completely new light here. The song always was a melodic slice of sadness but the addition of the Voices Of Praise really adds a new dimension to the song. It’s well into two and a half minutes before the gospel choir is heard on the final song, ‘Chore of Enchantment’ but they way their wordless vocals blend with the stabs of B-3 is simply stunning. Yes, die-hard Gelb fans will have these songs already but this is one of those rare occasions when there’s a really good reason for buying the same song twice. The packaging is irresistible and it’s also the perfect place to start for newcomers to Gelb’s unique work. A stunning release in every way.

Track Listing:-
1 Nail In The Sky (Live)
2 Worried Spirits (Live)
3 Neon Filler (Live)
4 Chore Of Enchantment (Live)

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live reviews

Luminaire, London, 4/10/2009
Howe Gelb - Luminaire, London, 4/10/2009
At the London Luminaire, Anthony Middleton watches Howe Gelb manage to pull off the rare trick of being both consumately entertaining and also genuinely experimental and inspirational
Bodoga, Nottingham, 2/10//2009
Babylon, Ottawa, 2/3/2006

favourite album

Sno Angel Like You (2016)
Howe Gelb - Sno Angel Like You
Keith How examines Giant Sand front man Howe Gelb's solo album 'Sno Angel Like You' which found him working with a Canadian Gospel choir and finds it standing the test of time

digital downloads



Gathered (2019)
Off-kilter but haunting lounge jazz on new solo album from former Giant Sand frontman Howe Gelb
Future Standards (2017)

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