30 Best Loved Albums - Van Lear Rose

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2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 14 on the list:

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14. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose (2004)

What happens when you cross a 20-something Detroit rocker, his scumbag friends/musicians, and a 70-year old queen of country who’s last relevant record was released in 1972? In the case of Van Lear Rose, you get an album that kicks your ass, mops the floor with it, and then sits you back on your barstool and politely asks “would you like another? while you enthusiastically nod your head yes.

When word came out that Jack White of the White Stripes was working with Loretta Lynn to make a new album my first thought was that this would be one strange album. Sure Jack White was an affirmed “roots music? junkie who’s White Stripes albums not only had some bluesy elements but who also contributed folks songs to a recent Civil War-era movie. But Loretta Lynn, the Coal Miners daughter? It just seemed like some stunt, a play off the Johnny Cash-Rick Rubin collaborations that were making the American Recording sessions some of Cash’s best work in decades. But the reviews of this new album were stellar and I was intrigued. Also a single was released from the album, Portland Oregon, that was just knocking me out. So I took the plunge.

What I heard was a 70-year old woman reminiscing about a one-night stand in Portland; telling us how her daddy won over the prettiest girl in the county; a couple of honky-tonk songs about women stealing her man; a country death song that was second to none; and, a sad lament about being a widow. In short it was amazing. Loretta Lynn apparently wrote all the songs (although I think Have Mercy is at least based on an Elvis song) and Jack White and friends contributed the music. What could have easily turned out as a creepy attempt at bedding down with a younger guy to look hip turns out to be a classic honky tonk album that appealed to both traditionalists and hipsters alike.

Jack White’s music at times just rocks but Loretta Lynn keeps right along at a pace that would shame a woman one-third her age. Highlights include the aforementioned Portland Oregon with Jack White sharing the mic with LL as they sing about a one-night stand of Sloe Gin Fiz and ask-no-questions-sex. Have Mercy will bring you to you knees, and as a friend of mine once described, does in 3 minutes what The Cramps spent an entire decade trying to accomplish. Women’s Prison is a great song about a woman on death row for the murder of her husband who was sleeping around. It ends with Jack White singing Amazing Grace with acoustic backing and then turns into a guitar frenzy to finish off the song. Mrs. Leroy Brown is a honky tonk stomper with Loretta clearing out her cheatin’ hubby’s bank account to buy pink limousine and then instructs the driver to “drive that car right into the bar, bring it on back to the big old blonde who thinks she’s a movie star…? As you can guess, the blonde stands no chance.

This album works on so many levels. It showcases LL’s song-writing skills and the music has a down-in-the- dirt, skuzzy feel at times and a simple, country folk music at other times. Although she was 70 at the time of this recording, LL is in fine form vocally and she can either knock you on your backside likes she does on the harder songs or break your heart on the softer songs. You also have to give her credit that she even worked with Jack White and his buddies. While at times country, with mandolin, dobro, and harmonica, this album also rocks and it would be interesting you find out how well the traditional country folks accepted this album. Doesn’t matter, I loved it and easily play it a couple of times a month and for that Van Lear Rose is one my 30 most beloved albums.

What’s your opinion of Van Lear Rose?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List!


5 Comments

Wow just found this page really by mistake looking for something else. You have a nice blog and some interesting information, will check back soon.

The toughest record ever made by a former mainstream country artist.... If all the songs don't rival her finest work, the arrangements pull them up.

Man, I got to get this album. Jack White and Loretta Lynn - what a combo!!!

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My regiment, which had made a successful charge at the entrance to the town, had re-formed on the promenade, a short distance from the stream. The marshal sent word to me to bring them at the gallop and we had hardly arrived before he ordered me to charge the enemy battalions which were covering the bridge, then to cross the bridge and pursue the fugitives on the open ground of the opposite side. Experienced soldiers know how difficult it is for cavalry to overcome infantry, who are determined to defend themselves in the streets of a town. I was well aware of the dangers of the task which I had been given, but it had to be done, and without hesitation. I knew also that it is by his conduct in his first action that a commanding officer gains a good or a bad reputation amongst his men. My regiment was composed of battle-hardened troopers: I raised them to the gallop and, with me at their head, we fell on the Russian Grenadiers, who stood firm behind their bayonets. They were, however, overwhelmed by our first impetuous charge, and once their ranks had been penetrated, my terrible chasseurs using the points of their sabres inflicted a frightful slaughter. The enemy retreated to the causeway of the bridge, where we followed them so closely that, on reaching the other side, they were unable to re-form, and our men got amongst them, killing all whom they could reach. When the Russian colonel was killed, his regiment, without leadership, lost heart, and seeing that the French skirmishers had now reached the bridge, they surrendered. I lost seven men killed and some twenty wounded, but captured a flag and two thousand prisoners. After this action, we advanced onto the open ground where we took a great number of fugitives, several guns and many horses.

Marshal Oudinot had watched this action from a vantage point in the town, and he came to congratulate the regiment, for which he henceforth had a particular regard, which it well merited. I was proud to be in command of such men and when the marshal told me that he intended to recommend me for promotion to colonel, I was afraid that the Emperor would go back on his original plan, and post me to the first regiment which became vacant. How strange are the twists of fortune! The successful action at Wilkomir, where the 23rd earned such a fine reputation, nearly led on a later occasion to its destruction, because the courage which it had displayed at the time resulted in its being chosen to carry out a mission which was virtually impossible, which I shall describe shortly. Let us now return to Wilna, where the Emperor was beginning to meet with some of the difficulties which were to wreck his whole gigantic undertaking.

The first of these concerned the re-organisation of Lithuania, which we had just conquered. This had to be carried out in away which would please not only those provinces which were still occupied by Russia, but also those of the duchies of Posen and Galicia, which ancient treaties had incorporated into Prussia and Austria, Napoleon's allies, whom, for the time being chanel wallet, it was important not to offend.

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This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on June 18, 2007 8:32 AM.

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