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Loudon Wainwright Iii - Haven't Got the Blues (Yet)

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 29 / 7 / 2014

Loudon Wainwright Iii - Haven't Got the Blues (Yet)
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Fabulous twenty-third album from ever versatile and hilarious singer-songwriter, Loudon Wainwright III

Over the course of forty-four years Loudon Wainwright III has released no less than twenty-three studio albums and three official live ones, yet ask anyone who has heard of his name how they see Wainwright and chances are you’ll get a different answer every time. Many, who have not paid too much attention to his career, still see Wainwright as the guy who made the Top Twenty in the U.S. back in ’73 with ‘Dead Skunk’, one of his semi-humorous/novelty songs which, despite its popularity, was far from the best example of this particular breed of Wainwright song. A couple of years into his musical career and Wainwright had already jumped ship from Atlantic Records to Columbia (something he has done quite regularly ever since), and, although the song was representative of but a fraction of his musical output, the change of label certainly introduced him to a wider audience. Then there are those who think of Wainwright the actor. He appeared on a few episodes of 'M*A*S*H' in the mid-seventies. and has continued making appearances here and there on both the big and small screens. ‘Pleased to Meet You’, a film that also featured Aimee Mann, John Doe and Joe Henry, is one of Wainwright’s most recent acting ventures. Wainwright is also remembered for being an artist who broke through in the seventies, and who didn’t succumb to any of those dated eighties production techniques or making a failed but desperate attempt to stay hip by following trends. In fact Wainwright’s run of 80's albums, ‘Fame and Wealth’, I’m Alright’, ‘More Love Songs’ and ‘Therapy,’ rank among his best and still stand proud today. Wainwright has always carved his own way, paying little attention to what other artists were doing. The topical songs Wainwright wrote for Jasper Carrott’s television series in the 1980s were a weekly TV highlight for many back in those days. and again introduced this musician’s versatility to a wide audience. But apart from Wainwright’s political/topical/witty songs there were his love songs. While many of these might well be classed as skewed love songs, there were some brilliant tearjerkers in there for sure. Then for the current generation of music lovers the name of Wainwright means Martha or Rufus, the children Loudon fathered with Kate McGarrigle, and who are carrying on in the Wainwright tradition by forging their own musical styles. So, there are many sides to Loudon Wainwright III, far too many to cover here and, while it’s business as usual on ‘Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet),’ the music and certainly the lyrics that Wainwright is still writing at 67 years of age show that the stubborn troubadour is still beating his own path and shows no sign of letting up just yet. The album kicks off with ‘Brand New Dance’, a horn-laden slab of rockabilly that will immediately register with those who have stuck with Wainwright from his early days. Describing the struggle which is just getting out of bed some mornings in typical Wainwright fashion, it’s an early indication that Wainwright has lost none of his wit, “ Here comes the hard part/Here’s the bad news/You got to bend over and put on your shoes”; the indignity of ageing has rarely been more acutely observed. ‘Spaced’ sets the everyday pursuit of a parking space in a cabaret setting, again displaying Wainwright’s still sharp humour. But it’s ‘In A Hurry’, the third song, where Wainwright’s latest collection of songs really takes off. Observing the lives of those jobless and homeless with those still fortunate enough to have a regular income is done the way that only Wainwright can. It’s a heartbreaking tale and a prime example of Wainwright’s more thoughtful side. ‘The Morgue’ is a song that could have made an appearance on Wainwright’s last album, 2012’s ‘Older Than My Old Man Now’, although it was commissioned for Wainwright’s character in the TV series ‘Undeclared’ but never used. ‘Harlan County’, also on this album, was similarly written as a theme song for another TV show, ‘Justified’, but was also rejected. The country blues lent to the song here contributes to the track being a highlight especially when Aoife O’Donovan adds her sublime harmonies. While mentioning backing vocalists, daughter Martha makes an appearance on ‘I Knew Your Mother’, and while her contribution is subtle her presence, of course, is understandable. ‘Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet)’ is another fine Loudon Wainwright III album. It’s not the best he’s ever produced but the fact that Wainwright is still making music this smart and relevant at this point in his career is something we should be grateful for. Wainwright’s still lyrically sharp; he still flits from genre to genre with ease and can still write melodies that will tear your heart apart. Wainwright is one of a kind and long may he continue to produce music such as this.

Track Listing:-
1 Brand New Dance
2 Spaced
3 In a Hurry
4 Depression Blues
5 The Morgue
6 Harmless
7 Man & Dog
8 Harlan County
9 I Knew Your Mother
10 Looking at the Calendar
11 I'll Be Killing You This Christma
12 God & Nature
13 Haven't Got the Blues (Yet)
14 Last Day of the Year

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