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Tuesday, 11 September 2018 14:54

Loudon Wainwright III

Written by Tim Readman
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Years In The Making (Story Sound Records)

Eccentric, unpredictable, crazy, hilarious, brilliant, eloquent, risqué, silly, original, and enduring. Any or all of the above adjectives—and a whole boatload more—can be applied to Loudon Wainwright III. 

For 50 odd years, his sprawlingly successful career has been highlighted by more than 20 album releases, film and TV credits (he was Capt. Calvin Spalding, the “singing surgeon”, on M*A*S*H), and the persistent and sometimes unwelcome legacy of his hit novelty song Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)

In 2017, his autobiography, Liner Notes, was published, but not content to leave it there, his 27th album, a self-styled audio-biography, Years In The Making now walks amongst us. It boasts 42 tracks including live performances, demos, outtakes, unreleased songs, live guitar string changing, and musical family scrapbook items. He’s joined at various points along the way by Kate McGarrigle, Suzzy Roche, Bill Frisell, and Van Dyke Parks, and his kids Rufus, Martha, Lucy, and Lexie. This two-disc set is divided into seven chapters within a 60-page hardback book, with documents and other artifacts including paintings and drawings by friends and fans. It is two hours of solid and unremitting entertainment! 

As Loudon himself said, “Years In The Making covers a lot of ground, about half a century’s worth. Sonically it’s all over the place and, at times, noticeably low-fi, but my co-producer Dick Connette and I decided that didn’t matter as much as offering up something that was spirited and representational.”

Just in case you need a bit of Loudon-esque encouragement to get this record, then consider the fact that Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison have all recorded his songs. What the hell makes you so special? Oh, yeah—and his version of Richard Thompson’s Down Where the Drunkards Roll is wonderful! So, play it LOUD and make him RICH!

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