Q: In my collection of Alan Jackson CDs, two appear to be unusual. One is “New Traditional,” released by Americana Records, which seems to consist of demos. The other is “Seven Bridges Road,” released by Flying Cows Records, which is a live performance of Jackson and his band The Strayhorns, at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in 1996. Can you tell me anything more about these recordings?
A: Unfortunately, we have not been able to unearth much more information about either of these records beyond what you probably already know.
Let’s start first with the title of the first record, “New Traditional.” Jackson, along with artists like George Strait, Randy Travis, Steve Earle and Patty Loveless, among others, are part of what has been called the “New Traditionalist Country” wing of the genre that emerged beginning in the late ’70s with Ricky Skaggs. They are musicians who favor pairing traditional country/bluegrass instrumentation with modern-day production techniques that combine to form a more commercially viable product.
“New Traditional” was issued in 1987, some two years before his official debut album, “Here in the Real World.” The record was partially recorded at Doc’s Place in Hendersonville, Tennessee, which was owned and operated by Dr. James Burkes, a practicing dentist, and at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama. It has been described as one written by an artist still trying to find his own voice.
“Seven Bridges Road” was recorded live in 1996 at Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville, TN. We have not been able to ascertain the current market value of either of these records in original condition. We did come across an auction on eBay in which the “Seven Bridges Road” record sold for almost $22.
Q: Peter Gabriel had a song back in the ’80s that has a chorus that has always puzzled me. It sounds like, “She’s so funky now.” Can you tell me what he’s saying?
A: The answer lies in knowing the title of the song to which you are referring, “Games Without Frontiers,” which is found on his third eponymous album. Widely known as “Peter Gabriel 3,” the album is generally regarded by critics as Gabriel’s best album despite the fact that it did not contain big hit songs.
By no means a “happy” record, in fact it is downright bleak and chilling at times, his lyrics and melodies seem perfectly matched. The song makes heavy use of synthesizers. The line you have been puzzling over, sung by the British singer Kate Bush, is actually the song’s title rendered into French: jeux sans frontières.
A much overlooked element that makes this album so good is the personnel Gabriel enlisted to help record it.
First, the album is produced by Steve Lilywhite, who would later produce each of U2’s first three albums, “Boy,” “October” and “War.” Sharing drumming responsibilities with Jerry Marotta is Gabriel’s old bandmate, Phil Collins, while ex-King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and Paul Weller, ex-frontman for the Jam and Dave Gregory of XTC each appear on guitars. Gabriel and Bush would hook up again to record the beautiful duet, “Don’t Give Up,” which is found on his 1986 release, “So.”