Raw Vision: The Tom Russell Band 1984-1994

Raw Vision: The Tom Russell Band 1984-1994

5.0 1
by Tom Russell
Raw Vision is a compilation from the Tom Russell Band's Rounder/Philo recordings. As such it is a competent, somewhat representative, but nowhere near thorough enough collection of Russell's best music for the label. One reason is that while these tunes offer a glance at the


Raw Vision is a compilation from the Tom Russell Band's Rounder/Philo recordings. As such it is a competent, somewhat representative, but nowhere near thorough enough collection of Russell's best music for the label. One reason is that while these tunes offer a glance at the true gift of his vocation as a songwriter, they don't capture the true flavor of the albums these tracks come from. While there isn't a weak track in the bunch, none of them stand out the way they did on his albums -- all of which were conceived that way -- and they don't completely capture the flair and drama that Russell and his mates could conjure when fully in it. Perhaps what should have been done was to cull through the songwriter's vast catalog of personal live recordings and issue either a gig or the live versions of these songs, which one suspects would have held up better. This set doesn't begin to get at the complexity, darkness, and "raw vision" Russell has in spades when he records an album -- at least a double disc might have been a better taste of that. One has to wonder, as a longtime fan of Russell's, about the track selection here. It feels haphazard and lazy; too many of his finest songs were left off. Russell is a great storyteller and a fine singer. He has practiced his craft to a precision point and most of what's here reveals that. But why "Angel of Lyon" was left off or "Manzanar" or "William Faulkner in Hollywood" is only a puzzle that is frustratingly left unanswered. To be fair, however, this does serve as a somewhat suitable introduction to a fine American songwriter who has fiercely blazed his own trail and who hasn't gotten nearly his due when it comes to influencing others. For hardcore fans there are three bonus tracks, including the unreleased demos of "Oil Field Girl, " and "Hong Kong Boy," as well as "Denver Wind," that was on the European version of Poor Man's Dream.

Product Details

Release Date:
Philo / Umgd


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tom Russell   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Ian Tyson   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Katy Moffatt   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Greg Trooper   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Hank Bones   Bass
Jeff Donovan   Drums
Skip Edwards   Keyboards
Andrew Hardin   Bass,Guitar
David Hidalgo   Guitar
Steve Holley   Drums
David Mansfield   Slide Guitar
Lee Thornburg   Horn
Tom Timko   Horn
Dusty Wakeman   Bass
Fats Kaplin   Fiddle,Harmonica,Pedal Steel Guitar,Accordion
Mike Warner   Drums
Billy Troiani   Bass
Mike Warner   Drums
Charlie Caldarola   Drums

Technical Credits

Ian Tyson   Composer
Tom Russell   Composer,Liner Notes
Tom Pacheco   Composer
Greg Trooper   Composer
Andrew Hardin   Engineer

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Raw Vision: The Tom Russell Band 1984-1994 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Playing Time - 60:34 -- About a decade or two ago, The Tom Russell Band’s music was considered folk. Now, this album hails the band’s frontman as “one of the seminal artists of the Americana movement.” The singer/songwriter from New York emerged on the scene in the mid-1980s, and his sound had influences of country, rock, Tex-Mex and folk. You might have seen his name in songwriting credits in collaboration with such big names as Nanci Griffith, Peter Case, Ian Tyson, Sylvia Tyson, Dave Alvin and Katy Moffatt. On “Raw Vision,” all but three selections were written solely by Russell. “Navajo Rug” was written with Ian Tyson “Haley’s Comet” with Dave Alvin and “Hong Kong Boy” with Greg Trooper. Americana has now come to signify an eclectic blend of music, largely acoustic, for diverse tastes. The format implies an aesthetic style that is honest roots music with a connection to country. Americana is both a small grassroots specialty format as well somewhat of a marketing strategy too. It's also a foundation that serves as a springboard for artists who are difficult to categorize exactly. The Tom Russell Band released five albums on the Philo label between 1984 and 1994. With deep voice, Russell is a storyteller with his lyrics. His songs are packed with imagery and emotions. Instrumentally, the band works as a strong team. Besides Russell on acoustic guitar and vocals, there are Andrew Hardin (guitar, bass), David Mansfield (slide guitar), Fats Kaplin (pedal steel, fiddle, harmonica, accordion), Lee Thornburg, Tom Timko (horns), Skip Edwards (keyboards), Hank Bones, Dusty Wakeman, Billy Troiani (bass), Steve Holley, Charlie Caldarola, Mike Warner, Jeff Donovan (drums). Guests include Katy Moffatt, Greg Trooper, Ian Tyson, and David Hidalgo. This compilation documents some solid performances of some very polished songs. With this album’s release following in Katrina’s aftermath, “Hurricane Season” is particularly a timely piece. “Haley’s Comet” is a classic about Bill Haley’s demise. So are “Blue Wing,” “Veteran’s Day,” and “Navajo Rug.” Johnny Cash also cut the first two. Another popular Tom Russell Band song is “Gallo del Cielo,” which Joe Ely covered. One cut that I wish Tom would’ve included is one co-written with bassist Andrew Hardin called “Zane Grey.” Americana has been trying to position itself as a "better alternative" to mainstream stations. Tom Russell Band has as strong alternative country flavor. If you’re part of that whole segment of music-listening populace who is not listening just to what is programmed on the pop and country charts, you owe it to yourself to rediscover this body of work from The Tom Russell Band. “Raw Vision” realizes that the country music umbrella is much broader than just might hear on mainstream radio. Tom Russell’s tangent from the 80s and 90s was on the leading edge of the Americana movement. “Oil Field Girls,” “Hong Kong Boy,” and “Denver Wind” are previously unreleased. (Joe Ross, Roseburg, OR.)