Prepare Me Well
Year of Release: 2007 Region: Australia
Cat. Number: ABC 14512 Release Status: Available
30 minute interview
Til They Cut Me Down
Rejected Novelist Fails Again
Live archival clips of:
Is She Slipping
Prepare Me Well
Molasses and Stone
Throw It All
Between The Dirt and Sky
Rain On Troy
Prepare Me Well – An Introduction to Jeff Lang (US & Europe)
Year of Release: 2006 Region: US & Europe
Cat. Number: CD83636 Release Status: Available
The Road Is Not Your Only Friend
Molasses and Stone
Whatever Makes You Happy
Too Easy To Kill
And All The Snow Melted
Everything Is Still
Prepare Me Well
Rain On Troy
All songs written by Jeff Lang except:
Motherless Children Have A Hard Time (Trad. Arr. Jeff Lang)
In My Time Of Dying (Trad. Arr. Jeff Lang)
Damaged People (Don Walker)
Producers: Jeff Lang and Tim Hall
“Look What I Found” Sound Brunswick, Victoria
30 Mill Studios Brunswick, Victoria
Seventh Dimension Brisbane
ABC Southbank, Victoria
Mastered at Sing Sing by Tony “Jack The Bear” Mantz.
Randy Harward – Harp Magazine (USA)
Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Jeff Lang should have a higher profile in the States. Over the course of 15 import-only releases he’s refined the art of warm, visceral, cinematic folk blues. Why has it taken 12 years to get a proper U.S. introductionâ€”and via a 15 song compendium? Well, no use bitching, it’s here now. The tracks range from story-songs to instrumentals that sound like stories, and suggest two roots music luminaries: Sonny Landreth and Kelly Joe Phelps. Lang’s vocals are a dead ringer for Landreth’s high-mellow croon, and he can get the same sweetly tense slide vibrato out of his guitar. His ethereal finger picking and sometimes theremin-esque slide work smack of Phelps’ best stuff, as do the poetic lyrics.
Lang’s trick is that he blends all that into the same song, the same passages and the effect is brilliant. Should you venture to acquire that elusive back catalog, you’ll have been well prepared by this collection. (First printed in Oct 2006)
Sam Fell – Inpress, Melbourne, Vic
If there’s one musician in this country who needs no introduction, it’s Jeff Lang. Over a career spanning almost 20 years, with 13 solo records under his belt as well as a swag of collaborations and compilations, the man can do no wrong; mangling the guitar to his every whim, creating tempests on which to blow you away or lulling you to sleep on velvet strings, the man is a master, a virtuoso and one of our best songwriters to boot.
As it stands now, we have Prepare Me Well, an anthology of Lang’s work from 1994 to 2006; 18 tracks, from Lang favourites to previously unreleased material, radio edits and a few live numbers, it’s a complete collection of Lang at his absolute best, which is pretty much as good as it gets. This record is dedicated to the late Chris Whitely, who Lang collaborated with last year on Dislocation Blues, and as such runs deep with the lyrical and musical emotion and passion, both artists are known for.
‘The Road Is Not Your Only Friend’ kicks off proceedings, and from there it’s a veritable goldmine of classic brilliance; ‘London’, ‘I Still See You’ (previously unreleased version), ‘Bateman’s Bay’, ‘Ravenswood’, ‘Mr God’ and ‘Prepare Me Well’, I could go on and on, and I will.
The two live tracks are a winner, as you’ll attest if you’ve ever seen the man up on a stage. ’12 Thousand Miles’, recorded at the Corner last year and performed on the Dislocation Blues record, with Grant Cummerford on Bass and Ash Davies on drums, is powerful and tight, and ‘Elvis Is Still Dead’, recorded at the Basement in 2003, well goddamn if this isn’t the absolute king of the hill; backed by Angus Diggs on the tubs, Lang ventures off onto tangents only he can navigate, but for us, it’s one hell of a ride.
‘Prepare Me Well’ also contains a DVD with a few video clips, an interview and some old archival footage of Lang doing what he does best; bust it out live. Basically, there’s nothing much to be said other than if you love Jeff Lang, this is just a magic collection of his work. And if you’ve never heard of him, well, sameâ€¦get into it.
David Kidney Green Man Review.com
Jeff Lang is an Australian guitarist often compared to another better known player. Be it Richard Thompson, Jimi Hendrix, or Ry Cooder … someone has compared him to each of them … and even a cursory listen will tell you he’s not like any of them, except he knows his way around a fretboard. He has a high-pitched and true voice. And he plays the bejeebers out of his guitar.
Prepare Me Well is a collection of songs from Lang’s Aussie records, so one might expect a lack of unity. But Lang’s mastery of his instrument, his strong voice and his songwriting take care of that. This is some potent stuff. Slide guitars, bottleneck, dobros, Nationals, he uses them all. The album is dedicated to the late and much lamented American slide player, Chris Whitley; another one who followed his own muse. You won’t find too many standard 12 bar blues tunes on here, but there is a virtual guitar workshop included in the 15 tracks.
Lang gets a sound similar to that of Jerry Douglas, with some echoes of Bob Brozman. His songs are literate and well structured…I think this is why they compare him to Richard Thompson! Talk about doom & gloom;
“my demons can feed you
every line in the book
good God I can’t bleed you
out of my eyes
you walk by my side
you sit in my pocket
with each hit I took.”
Whew! Prepare Me Well is the name of one of his songs, but this collection from Telarc will prepare the American audience well for an onslaught from down under!
Dave Scott – Blues Matters Magazine
This introduction to Jeff Lang is a perfect starting point for those of you unfamiliar with the Australian singer/guitarists music.
With the exception of some rarities, the CD draws upon earlier releases, Whatever Makes You Happy, Everything Is Still, You Have To Dig Deep To Bury Daddy, Cedar Grove and Ravenswood. Watch out though, because once hooked on this incredibly absorbing and mesmerising sound you will want the entire back catalogue. Lang’s music is broadly categorised as Australian roots but is overlayered by so many influences, Skip James, Dylan, Whitley, and Waits. Above all, Jeff Lang’s individuality, integrity and creative talent dominate, reflected in the most beautifully crafted and poignant lyrics:
Blood red petals cloud the view of
A copper disc moon hung up clear
There’s a rose growing through my heart
I’m dying without you here
The moods and styles constantly change, from the Eastern rhythms of “The Save”, through the haunting echoes of “Mr God” to the frenetic beat underpinning “Too Easy To Kill”.
A word of warning to blues purists in that you won’t find too many standard 12 bar blues tunes but what you get is an entire guitar workshop as Lang plays slide and bottleneck, acoustic and electric, using dobros and Nationals.
This CD is a tribute to the late Chris Whitley of whom Lang had this to say: “Chris Whitley’s music had everything that an artist should aspire to: transcendence, raw honest beauty, bravery, passion. I can safely say that he will always be a huge source of inspiration for all of us out here in the trenches of the music world. His art is for all time”.
These comments are prophetic because Jeff Lang is heading for a similar legacy. By the time you read this, a collaboration between Jeff and the late Chris Whitley in the form of a new album called “Dislocation Blues” will have been released by ABC in Australia, so start building your collection now.
Hal Horowitz – All Music Guide
Subtitled “An introduction to Jeff Lang,” Prepare Me Well compiles tracks from five of the Australian roots guitarist’s discs released over a ten year time span starting in 1994, many of which have not been available in the States. It is meant as a way of bringing Lang’s name into visibility, and as such is a useful collection. But, since the press notes explain that Lang produced ten live and studio albums during this period, one wonders what happened to material from the other five. Additionally, selections from Native Creek Dog, which was named Best Australian Blues Album in 1996, are strangely M.I.A. Regardless, what is here is impressive.
Lang takes aspects of Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke, and especially the underappreciated Tony Furtado, and blends them together in a bluesy, swampy concoction that has been described as “disturbed folk.” It’s an intriguing sound, and along with Lang’s fragile, gentle voice (somewhat similar to Paul Simon’s), the music is consistently stimulating, even in its quietest moments.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the collection is a little schizophrenic, shifting between soft, gentle ethereal music such as the closing “Rain on Troy,” the complex finger picking and dark stylings of “Ravenswood,” and extended, moody pieces such as the title track to Cedar Grove, the album’s most riveting track. The collection is dedicated to the late Chris Whitley, and there are overtones of his edgy style here.
Lang never rushes his songs, and even though his instrumental proficiency is obvious, he doesn’t overextend solos. A few more upbeat tunes on the order of the surging “Too Easy to Kill” would make this more driving and provide a change from the rather downbeat approach, but there is no doubt that Lang has tapped into a unique style, often influenced by East Indian tunings as on “London”. He’s already been featured on A Prairie Home Companion, which provides a perfect outlet for his offbeat, occasionally bleak folk. He’s a talent who deserves wider recognition.
Arol Rouchon – BCR La Revue
Ce Jeff Lang, jusque là incounu, est peut être le maillon entre des musiciens comme Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson ou Chris Whitley (à qui il dédie ce disque), de plus il est un excellent guitariste et a converti à sa musique un certain John Butier (c’est peu dire!!).
Cet australien né en 1970 débarque aujourd’hui en Europe grâce à Telarc, avec cet album de quinze pertes démontrant, sans ambiguïté les possibilités de ce songwriter Australien. Dés la première pièce “The Save”, un est séduit par sa voix douce et nuancée qui se marie bien avec les phrasées des guitares.
L’opus oscille entre mélodies hypnotiques “Mr God”, “All The Snow Melted” ballades bluesy rocailleuse “Too Easy To Kill”, “Everything is Still” et country, rock débridés. Ceux qui aiment cette musique (les autres aussi) mélangeant folk, blues, rock seront séduit avec ce disque de Jeft Lang, qui nous fait pénétrer au coeur d’un bien être musical au savoir-faire subtil, souple et chargé d’émotion musicale. En conclusion, un album mature, agréable, sans moment faible, diversifié, remuant et personnel.
A découvrir d’urgence…
French Blues Co
Le bush Australien nous réserve encore de belles surprises. Après avoir donné en pature au peuple du Blues moderne le dread-Iocké Ash Grunwald, venu l’espace d’un album Live hallucinogène et d’une prestation explosive sur un Festival (Cognac 2006) apuré la soif des amateurs de foot-stomp et de one-man-band électrique, c’est au tour de bel inconnu répondant au patronyme de JEFF LANG de déferier chez nous, telle la vague chamaniste attendue par tes surfeurs des spots de Cairns.
Slideur un peu fou-fou, chanteur à la voix hautement perchée, Lang nous offre ici un 15 titres compilé sur plusieurs de ses précédents albums. Car, le jeunot n’en est pas à son coup d’essai. De nombreux opus ont déjà introduit sa carrière sur son immense caillou. Intervient en 2006 le label Telarc (label de blues) qui, sous l’image discrète de la séduction vient présenter JEFF LANG au reste du monde.
Séduction, car l’image du label, quelque peu emmurée dans des productions “pur-blues” avait bien besoin d’un petit coup de cosmétique. Certes, l’auditeur aura (peut etre?) besoin de quelques écoutes avant de tomber sous l’hypnose de Lang, avant de vouloir écharper quiconque s’approchera d’un peu trop près de la galette, de peur de ne plus jamais lu revoir ni la ré-écouter … Jeff Lang est un bidouilleur: ses guitares, ses percussions, ses arrangements, partout on sent le travail d’orfèvre et d’artisan du son.
Parfois Buddy Miller, parfois Led Zep, parfois Tom Waits, parfois Ry Cooder, parfois Richard Thompson, souvent Lui, (mélange d’Americana, de Blues, de Rock, de Pop, de Country Alternative…) voilà en résumé ce qu’est la musique de Lang. Ses compositions sont à rimage de la folie qui galope notre Monde.
Transpiration que I’on retrouve evidemment ensuite dans ses textes. Des thèmes de la vie dans toute sa banalité et son désarroi au quotidien, la tombe que l’on creuse jour après jour, (The Save, The Road Is Not Your Friend) se transforment en furies personnelles et militantes tel que l’asphyxie continuelle de la planète quinous nourrit (Too Easy To KilI). Même Dieu devant la misérable vision de son oeuvre s’en va passer des entre tiens d’embauche. sans grand résultat d’ailleurs (Mr. God)! Tu I’auras compris toi le Punsle du Blues passes ton chemin, ici pas de place pour d’uniques 12 mesures, c’est un plein magasin de Guitares que nous balance JEFF LANG avec Prepare Me Well … Par contre, nous, ça aurait été bien qu’on soit un minimum préparés avant de recevoir – -. La Claque! Vous serez prévenus.
Andy Ellis, Guitar Player Magazine (USA), October
Lap slide wizard Jeff Lang recorded the songs on this collection of progressive and beautifully broken folk-blues during the last ten years, releasing them in his native Australia.
Culled from five albums (Whatever Makes You Happy, Everything is Still, You Have to Dig Deep to Bury Daddy, Cedar Grove, and Ravenswood), these cuts reveal Lang’s amazing slide chops and adventurous timbral palette. We’re treated to moody atmospheric textures, ripping electric lap-steel riffs, delicate acoustic picking, trippy backwards leads, oddball percussion, throbbing tremolo, and unconventional lyrics—all of which Lang blends like some crazed sonic alchemist. Dig early Ben Harper and Kelly Joe Phelps? You’ll find plenty of such earthy, driving slide in this 15-song set, nestled among bits of Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, and Ry Cooder.
But these are just clues – Lang’s music is as fiercely original as it is moving.
- The Road Is Not Your Only Friend
- The Save
- I Still See You
- 5 Too Easy To Kill
- ‘Til They Cut Me Down
- 12 Thousand Miles (Live)
- Molasses And Stone
- Mr. God
- Bateman’s Bay
- Cedar Grove
- Everything Is Still
- Prepare Me Well
- You Should’ve Waited
- Elvis Is Still Dead (Live)
- Rain On Troy