A compendium of past and present reviews of recordings, concerts and books.
"Andersen is the most elegant of singers. He is powered by the singular mix of irony and high romanticism that fuels his classic work."
Paul Evans, Rolling Stone Magazine
Eric Andersen's Poetic Journey at the Tin Pan with Cheryl Prashker on October 17, 2017
October 25, 2017
Eric Andersen - Mingle with the Universe: The Worlds of Lord Byron
by Terry Roland
June 30, 2017
One Magic Night at McCabe's with Eric Andersen and Scarlet Rivera
by Terry Roland
May 15, 2016
Cashbox Magazine Canada, 2016
Eric Andersen, one of the founding fathers of the great American Folk Family, continues to evolve and reinvent himself. It’s as though he has an unquenchable thirst to create new works and adapt the works of other literary icons of the past. For me that is the mark of a true artist, constantly moving the finish line and looking for new ways to express himself and not fearful of taking the great works of others and translating them into song in his own undeniable fashion.
And that is just what he has done with Albert Camus, the great French-Algerian 20th Century philosopher. The paintings of Oliver Jordan were what first inspired Eric to reinvestigate the works of Albert Camus which in turn inspired him to write the songs for The Shadow and the Light album. Camus, whose productivity was from 1935 until his tragic demise in a car wreck in 1960, was similar to Eric in that they both sought the truth in their words.
Andersen managed to take the text of Camus and expertly transform them into four songs; The Plague,( Song of Denial) The Stranger, (Song of Revenge) The Rebel (Song of Revolt) and The Fall (Song of Gravity). Kind of like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Each song is haunting in its content and production with the sincere, honest vocals that have become Eric’s stock in trade.
These songs are about the truth. “The Stranger”, “The Rebel” and “The Fall”, are most indicative of Camus take on life, his existetionalism of Camus' philosophy on life, looking at the cold, hard truth about oneself. Camus not long before he passed alluded to the fact that he had lived his entire life as a lie and needed to create a new truth.
The opening song, "The Plague" is a call to action and a warning, harsh as it may be, of the impending doom, of death and disease. The way things are going around the world it is a prophetic work.
The second track “The Stranger”, is along the lines of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” as the subject wanders through the post Apocalypse world bloodied but not beaten. Ready to rise.
“The Rebel” is a little less dark as the philosophy of Camus’ that life is absurd and ultimately meaningless is championed with the haunting repetition of “Rebel, Rebel, Rebel” even if it seems pointless, rebel. And in today’s current political climate this work is even more relevant. As Twisted Sister said “We’re Not Going To Take It Anymore ”.
And finally, the denoument of the album, The Fall, almost whispered by Andersen as the narrator, looks back on his journey and the path he took to get there. A perfect way to end the collection.
As Eric Andersen reaches back to the past to chronicle the works of past masters I can’t help but think that a hundred years from now a young writer will do likewise with the works of Eric Andersen. Keep mingling with THE universe Eric, can’t wait to see what’s next.
No Depression, 2011
The Cologne Concerts, Eric Andersen's second live album in a career which spans five decades, represents the best of what live recordings are about. It is a document of a work of art rather than a rehash of already recorded songs. The question with most artists on the release of a live album is: what can this contribute to the artist's body of work? The answer on this album is found in its quality and the artistry of the interpretations of songs old and new. The collective quality of this album makes each song reflect in a way that causes them to sound like a new and fresh experience.
The Cologne Concert is unique on many levels for Eric Andersen as an artist. He continues to produce important and vital music that gently dances between the sublime and the dangerous. While his lyrics are distinctly visual and reflective, a few simple lines can cut across the borders of light and darkness and into the heart of the spirit in the same way many visual artists only aspire to. His songs feel like musical expression of a 19th-century impressionistic painter. It's a style of writing uniquely his own. His journey through styles and eras of his career include pilgrimages into country, folk, blues, jazz, beat poet reflections and rock.
The Cologne Concert doesn't feel live in terms of quality or energy. It's an intimate chamber concert of contemplative poetry and performance that creates the mood of being transported to some quiet shelter sitting in front of a fire while this poet spins out words and melodies that comfort and stimulate . This is partially due to the excellent quality of the recording, brought to you courtesy of Meyer Records in Germany, which specializes in often-overlooked American roots artists. The recording is clear and so warm that it defies the digital icy pitfalls often found in today's live recordings.
Peformance and song selection are consistent throughout. Eric's wife, Inge, hauntingly accompanies him on harmony vocals. Like gentle strokes along the edge of the portrait, her voice frames Eric in a vocal caress which adds texture and soul to each song. Michele Gazich's violin brings texture and mood to the mix in a way that supports and enhances both the singer and the song.
Most important for an artist as prolific and as recorded as Eric Andersen is song selection for a live album. This set of songs does not represent a career retrospective as much as it does a journey through the interplay of soul, spirit and all of the moods created by the world outside of the poem. From the reflective "Time Run Like A Freight Train," to Tom Paxton's classic and simple, "Last Thing On My Mind," the songs are those of leaving, parting, redeeming the past, living in the present and noticing the streams of song which flow through our lives. Indeed, this is perhaps what Eric's calling to the song has been about: To bring us an awareness of the poetic possibilties inherent in our present everyday lives.
With two new songs, the beautiful, "Sinking Deeper Into You," and the unconventional "Dance of Love and Death," each piece is a strand that is consistent with the other and placed in just the right place.
Hopefully, an album of new material will surface soon from Eric Andersen. Meantime, this album is well worth the experience for both the long-time fan and anyone new to the music and songs of Eric Andersen, not only as a collection of songs, but as a collective work of art.
The Cologne Concert has also been released in vinyl.
Rolling Stone - April 2001
- The veteran plays requiems for friends like Townes Van Zandt-
Sure, you can't relive(-vive) it, the past. But: these memories you increasingly thrive on and which are tormenting you more and more still do emerge from the past. Even for Eric Andersen, who boldly called his latest album "Memory Of The Future". That one was distinguished by a genesis that lasted roughly eight years and led the US-songwriter also into the Fusion- adventureworld. Now "You Can't Relive The Past" is rather rooted to the soil, it only took up six days in the studio- and still reaches a great deal farther back. For example the four songs Andersen roughly sketched with Townes Van Zandt between bar and edge of bed in New York during the mid-eighties lay peacefully dormant for more than 13 years in a cardboard box filled with tapes in Albuquerque. The coolly gleaming "The Road" as well as the properly heated "Night Train". The album's second thread also leads back to these years. Back to the writer, moviemaker and producer Robert Palmer ("Deep Blues"), who initiated Andersen on the spot into the secrets of the Delta Blues. Now down in Mississippi the latter grabbed himself three local veterans- like Kenny Brown- who usually make their slide howl for R.L.Burnside. Hardly ever has Andersen been heard like this as in "Every Once In A Pale Blue Moon" or " Stand Me Up Easy". Townes van Zandt died on New Year's day in 1997, Palmer still in the same year; the imploring " Magdalena" is dedicated to cellist Ann Sheldon who passed away already in 1994. "The ones I love are dead and gone, I am growing old", Andersen sings in"Meadowlark" matter-of- factly, not desperately. Following the dove that flies away again each morning."You Can't Relive The Past" is a requiem for those who have already gone and an encouragement for those who still remain. Nowhere is this better expressed than in the title song when Andersen and Lou Reed pass on chords and entries to each other in an almost juvenile manner, for moments completely safe and secure here and now.
Good Times No.3/2001 June/July
Folk-rocker Eric Andersen on partially new paths. His last work bore the title "Memory Of The Future"- and here the opposite is the order of the day. "You Can't Relive The Past" is concerned with important matters from the past. With the hopeful immigrants ("Eyes Of The Immigrant"), the beloved mother ("Dear Mama") and with lost love ("Every Once In A Pale Blue Moon"). At the same time Andersen calls to mind three persons who have passed away: Townes Van Zandt, with whom he wrote some songs- now released here- in 1986. Ann Sheldon, to whom he dedicates the song "Magdalena". Robert Palmer (not the hit-singer), who taught him the blues. It's the blues he uses here more intensely than ever and the tracks he recorded with Mississippi luminaries inevitably belong to the highlights. Lou Reed who co-composed the strong title track and whose conception of Intensive-rock also refined "Gonna Go Crazy" turned out to be another enrichment. A many-sided, brilliant album, a candidate for the Top Ten of the year!
REVIEW OF EL MOCAMBO SHOW
With two concerts in two nights, this city is Backstreet Boys crazed. Fortunately, that isn't the only source of entertainment. Outside the bar, a neon palm tree flicks on and off. Inside, Eric Andersen is confused, looking for the bathrooms, but happily he is told where to go. This isn't the first time he's been given some form of direction, but usually from great musicians. He's worked with Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, and was being lured by Brian Epstein so he hung around with the Fabs as well. The seats are gone and it's standing room only. A television above the bar is showing The West Wing (American weekly political drama). Moments later, Andersen walks on with his acoustic guitar in hand, opening with 'Eyes Of The Immigrant' from his new album, 'Can't Relive The Past'. "It's great to be here, but what a problem I had with Customs at the border," he says. "I was going to take some of my friends over with me, but I'd probably still be there waiting." The songs are sparse and dark, in the vein of Springsteen's 'Nebraska'. And the voice is as smooth as ever. He keeps on the Customs story. "I had to give the guy $150, I'm telling you." After asking for tea and having a sip, he quips, "Ah, just like life, a bit sweet but mostly sour." 'Night Falls On Amsterdam' talks about him and Van Zandt and their experiences in said Dutch city. "We were approached at a coffee house with a large Bible full of different drugs. Townes said he wanted to buy the book. The guy started sweating and said he couldn't. Then Townes, saddened, lowered his head and said, 'I just wanted some reading material for the flight back home.'" After each song, Andersen stands up and acknowledges the crowd, many of whom haven't seen the inside of the El Mocambo in decades. The first set ends with a broken string and some harmonica work. "I brought my orchestra," he says as he places it around his neck. He does some meet-and-greet, selling and signing all the CDs he brought over. A group of fans starts a collection and give him the change to help him get back over the border. Most people stay for the second set, with has some of the old favorites like 'Violets of Dawn' and 'Fog Horn', and another story - this time about how he hooked up with Lou Reed. "He's more of a folk musician than Pete Seeger, if you use the definition of folk music because he speaks about New York." 'Blue River' is done as a tribute to Rick Danko of The Band, and more songs but a little less banter continues into the wee small hours. Bliss.
Thu Mar 16 2000 16:53
"It's a poetic quest, kind of like summoning a memory of the future. It is also what Eric Andersen does best and that is why he still matters."
Rolling Stone Magazine
REVIEW OF RYMAN THEATER SHOW
Willie and Company Hold Townes Van Zandt Tribute at Ryman Willie Nelson anchored a four-hour tribute concert to late Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt Wednesday night at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium. Only a few living country songwriters can hold a candle to Van Zandt; Nelson is one, and he had two others by his side -- Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver. Kristofferson showcased a handful of his best songs, including "Me and Bobby McGee," "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "Why Me," backed by a nine-piece band and special vocal guest Janie Fricke. Shaver took the spotlight for two tunes during Nelson's headlining slot, performing "Georgia on a Fast Train" (with help from Kristofferson) and "You Asked Me To." Nelson, backed by his longtime road band, largely selected songs that have been a part of his act for decades. The legendary singer touched on some 35 or 40 songs, including his biggest hits ("Always on My Mind," "City of New Orleans"), classic originals ("Night Life," "Crazy"), classic covers ("If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time," "Walking the Floor Over You"), gospel numbers ("Uncloudy Day," "Amazing Grace") and instrumentals ("Ou Es-Tu, Mon Amour?"). He mentioned the night's honoree only once; that was before launching into Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty," a No. 1 duet for Nelson and Merle Haggard in 1983. Folk singer Eric Andersen kicked off the night, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar through three songs, including "Meadowlark," a tune he co-wrote with Van Zandt and recorded for his brand new album, You Can't Relive the Past. Nashville favorite Jonell Mosser performed "I'll Be There in the Morning" and "Tower Song," both from her 1996 album, Around Townes, an entire CD of Van Zandt material. The concert was emceed by Van Zandt's widow, Jeanene, and was a fund-raiser for the W.O. Smith Nashville Community School.
"You know the way whiskey, good Irish whiskey, real drinking man's whiskey feels when it hits your stomach and your face flushes and you catch your breath a moment before your throat closes and suddenly the world is a dimmer place. Sometimes it's a better place, definitely different place with a different perspective. You know that feeling? That's Andersen's voice - not just his singing voice, mind you, but his VOICE."
Michael Patrick Harrington,
THE TENNESSEAN'S WEBSITE:
REVIEW OF RYMAN THEATER SHOW
Helplessly hoping for a bigger encore? Lots of you called and wrote to say you enjoyed Willie Nelson's tribute to singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt Wednesday night at the Ryman. The encore, Amazing Grace, was a highlight. Willie was joined on stage by Janie Fricke, local rocker Jonell Mosser, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver, Deana Carter, folkie Eric Andersen and others. And Willie almost was joined on stage by David Crosby and Neil Young. The two, part of the Crosby Stills Nash & Young show last night at the arena, were slated to join Willie. But the CSNY plane apparently got to Nashville too late, though Neil did surprise some folks backstage at Willie's show when he walked through to greet Mr. Nelson.
"He still hasn't abandoned his quest for perfect words."
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
SUNDAY 2/20/00 ...
Eric AndersenYou Can't Relive The Past(Appleseed ***1/2 )With two good friends dead and gone - Texas Troubadour Townes Van Zandt and former New York Times music critic Robert Palmer - '60s folk veteran Eric Andersen communes with ghosts on You Can't Relive the Past. He reinvigorates his own music in the process: Recording for the Appleseed label out of West Chester, the 57-year-old, poetically inclined singer-songwriter reclaims his voice by immersing himself in collaborative efforts. You Can't Relive The Past is commendably daring, if not quite cohesive. The album includes four folkie, highway-haunted songs written with Van Zandt in 1986 and sung in Andersen's still-resonant baritone, and four vibrant electric blues cut in Palmer's old Mississippi Delta stomping grounds with Fat Possum recording artists James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Sam Carr and Kenny Brown. "Memory runs right by your eyes, so real and so fast," Andersen sings on the title track, cowritten with Lou Reed. But on You Can't Relive The Past, he resists nostalgia, and instead uses loss as inspiration to move ahead with wisdom and grace. (Andersen is scheduled to play the Point in Bryn Mawr on March 16)
"Eric Andersen is living quite compellingly in the present, making music that tells us resonant truths about our own movement through time."
Rolling Stone Magazine
"Memory of the Future is more adventurous than its predecesor, 1989's widely praised Ghosts Upon the Road. The best song, the title cut, breaks new stylistic ground: Half Sade, half William Burroughs. It's jazzy sleek and menacing."
"Memory of the Future is a stunning, seven-years-in-the-making jewelwhich features contibutions from Jonas Fjeld, Rick Danko, Richard Thompson, Howie Epstein, Benmont Tench, and Garth Hudson." No Depression, The American Alternative Country Music Magazine
6 STAR REVIEWS AND QUOTES FROM EUROPE
"Mesterverk! Av beherskede og intense virkemidler. En sanger og låttskriver av stort format. " (Masterpiece! Of controlled and intense means. A singer and writer of immense importance).
(Oslo, Norwegian national daily)
"En Kommende klassiker. Utsøkt vakkert, tankevekkende og spennende musikalsk album." (The next classic. Exquisitely beautiful, thought-provoking and excitingly musical album.)
(Oslo, Norwegian national daily)
"Holder til evig tid!" (Will stand up for all time)
(Oslo, Norwegian national daily)
"Et fantastisk album!" (A fantastik album.)
(Oslo, Norwegian national daily)
"Årets første perle!" (The year's first pearl.)
(Oslo, Norwegian national daily)
"Holder til evig tid!"
(Oslo, Norwegian national daily)
"Eric Andersen's Memory of The Future and personal songwriting style in is in its own superior class."
Italian Rock magazine,
Jam Magazine (Milan)
"Memory of the Future is a small wonder."
German Rolling Stone (Berlin)
"Excellent. Memory of the Future shines. Recorded with scrupulous care."
La Repubblica's Dischi (Rome)
"Memory of the Future is distinguished work. With the sweet, whispering voice that made its mark alongside the other models of the Greenwich Village scene of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Lou Reed."
Italian Rock Magazine,
REVIEW QUOTES FROM YOU CAN'T RELIVE THE PAST
SING OUT! Spring 2000
"Beginning with a stunning opener and moving through some of the grittiest tracks he's ever recorded - including four songwriting collaborations with the late, great Townes Van Zandt and another with art rock legend Lou Reed - You Can't Relive the Past is one of the strongest sets in Eric Andersen's 35 year-long recording career". - MR
MAY-JUNE 2000 NO DEPRESSION - ERIC ANDERSEN You Can't Relive the Past
"One of the most creative and erudite lyricists of the '60s folk revival (Vanguard has re-released the cream of his early material as Violets of Dawn), Eric Andersen balanced traditional Guthrie-esque travelin' songs with a Kerouac-inspired sensitivity as well as anyone but Bob Dylan, and he sang with a gorgeous, buttery voice that connoted both intensity and warmth. He has continued to write excellent songs through the past few decades though he has never matched his early commercial success...You Can't Relive the Past is Andersen's most ambitious work in years. While it contains some lovely acoustic folk ballads (Eyes of the Immigrant echoes and expands his great early song "Thirsty Boots"), for the most part Andersen finds a densely textured blues-based sound similar in feel to Dylan's Time Out of Mind".
DIRTY LINEN August/September 2000
"This sequel comes only a year later than Memory of the Future and it's just as noteworthy...The fact that a songwriter can come out with an album that is this strong after 35 years in the business is impressive."
RELIX June 2000
"You Can't Relive the Past" is the latest album from singer/songwriter Eric Andersen. It's a compelling collection that shows the breadth of Andersen's writing...Every song on this album is a finely crafted masterpiece by one of America's most enduring and articulate writers."
THIRSTY EAR MAGAZINE June/July 2000 - ERIC ANDERSEN/You Can't Relive The Past
"You Can't Relive The Past is a radical and most welcome departure from the soft sounds he's been making for the past 25 years. Somewhere along the line Andersen stumbled upon the raw, flawed, punk-like recordings of Mississippi's Fat Possum blues label-and he was smitten. He called the label, booked recording time with the likes of soul-bluesman Super Chikan, slide guitarist and long-time R.L. Burnside sideman Kenny Brown, and drummer Sam Carr. The result is the least likely of blues/folk records...A standout that deserves mention is the title cut, with its deceptively simple lines. It's one of those catchy hummers you can't get out of your head once it enters. Andersen co-wrote it with his old pal Lou Reed, whose droll vocals help fill out the chorus: "You can't relive the past/You can't relive the past/Your future's now just gettin' up/You can't relive the past." I hope that's true: that Andersen's future holds more unexpected surprises." Michael Koster
MUSIC MATTERS Issue 13 2000
"For here among the classic Andersen ballads - everyone as rich as one would expect them to be - are some gems of spontaneous joy...Perhaps it is as Andersen cautions that you can't relive the past, but by exploring it, in all its permutations from blues to rock to folk as he has done here, you can certainly revel in it as a springboard for the present and a prescient memory of the future."
CANADIAN GLOBE AND MAIL March 14, 2000
"In the last two years, Andersen has begun to reclaim his rightful spot at the top of the folksinger heap. In 1998, he returned with the well-received Memory of the Future. And his recently released You Can't Relive The Past should cinch the comeback. It is winning rave reviews."
DIG MAGAZINE Eric Andersen: You Can't Relive The Past By Kyle Riordan
"You Can't Relive the Past finds Andersen traveling in new musical directions. During his tour to support Memory of the Future, Andersen talked of his recent work with the greatest living folk singer, Lou Reed (his words not mine!) The results of this New York union can be heard in the moving title track, co-written with Reed. Also seeing the light of day for the first time are four long lost collaborations with the late Townes Van Zandt, who rarely collaborated with others (Andersen has a knack for losing songs, evidenced by the 'Stages' album). The other half of the album features tracks recorded in Mississippi with a small combo of blues musicians, including legendary drummer Sam Carr and slide guitarist Kenny Brown. Though totally out of character for Andersen, these recording are swampy and infectious. Standout tracks include Eyes of the Immigrant, Meadowlark, Cold Country, and Magdalena."
"Recorded in Mississippi and New York, Eric Andersen's latest has muscle and grit. "All my friends are dead and gone and I am growing old" he sings, and goes on to muse extensively (and with precious little nostalgia) on the passage of time. Half the tracks are acoustic guitar-driven folk; the other half are fueled by Mississippi legends Sam Carr on Drums, James Johnson on Electric Guitar, and Kenny Brown on Slide Guitar. Andersen's hypnotic poet's growl stitches it all together. Included are debut recordings of four songs that Andersen co-wrote with Townes Van Zandt in 1986. Highly recommended. " Rani Abo
Reviews from England, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Norway & Germany
"Singer songwriter from 60's folk revival with a gem of a CD
including some great roots-rock from Mississippi"
"With a sleevenote by Rolling Stone writer Anthony de Curtis, a guest appearance by Lou Reed, and Lucy Kaplansky and Artie Traum among the backing names, the boat has been well and truly pushed out."
YOU CAN'T RELIVE THE PAST
Still in perfect creative shape after over 35 years' career, Eric Andersen keeps releasing remarkable albums. An unquestioned classy songwriter, he gives us 4 songs written with Townes Van Zandt, the title track in collaboration with Lou Reed, and some blues songs of the old school. An excellent album of evolved folk.
Corrado Spotti, AUDIO
Extraordinary alliances are made in the name of middle age. Like the all New Yorkish one between the Sweet folksinger Eric Andersen and the hero of protopunk darkness Lou Reed, deeply involved and convinced in singing "you can 't relive the past". Some years ago Andersen might look like an icon of the sixties of the Village; today. You Can't Relive the Past can be considered the record of his second maturity. Fully shining are the four songs outlined in the eighties with Townes Van Zandt and only recently found out and completed. Long, intense, even heart-rending (Meadowlark), they are the best tribute to the great Texan songwriter, better than the many posthumous live records recently released. Eisewhere, the record moves about the Delta area with lively blues, even if a bit conventional, led by the veteran Kenny Brown's slide. But best of all are the ballads, sung with the c1assic warm, voice only just hoarsened by time, and touching (Magdalena), just 1ike at the times of Blue River.
Antonio Vivaldi, Musica, La Repubblica
Eight years of the recording scene, then a first rate album, "Memory of the Future, to let the world know he was still on the scene. And now, only a year later and a bit surprisingly, a new record, to confirm the good revealed in the previous one. And the latter, You Can 't Relive the Past, is superior to the former. Andersen is a survivor. He is of the same generation as Tim Buckley, Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, Peter LaFarge, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Dave Van Ronk, few of them are still alive, and fewer are the ones still working.
Andersen looks great, he still has a fine body, a beautiful pen and a warm and involving voice. And this record is of great interest for many reasons: the presence of Lou Reed in a song, as a coauthor and double voice, and four songs written with Townes Van Zandt - four songs that the great Texan had written not long before dying and that maybe are the four last ones he left to posterity. Moreover Andersen divided the record between the past and the past, recording it with Fat Possum in order to give a different quality to his music. You Can 't Relive the Past is a complex, intense album which, in its 66 minutes, offers moments of great music. Actually, in my opinion, Andersen has never been so convinced and convincing since the glorious Blue River.
Sweet, interior ballads, full of melody, sung with that soft voice, and sad, dark and dusky blues songs that give us a new image of the songwriter. A folksinger singing blues, not a blues singer, but folk experience used in blues surely is winning in this record. The album was recorded in New York and Mississippi, thus giving a sharp distinction to the songs: flowing romantic ballads, and nocturnal blues songs. The opening "Eyes of the Immigrant" is one of the most intense songs ever, written by Eric: a touching melody, a perfect accompaniment that frames the song, with artists such as Artie Traum, Lucy Kaplansky , Mark Dann, Ismael Bruno playing. A look back to the past, at the times when Blue River was one of the most important records in the pages of Rolling Stone.
It's long since Eric had been called "the new Dylan", the first of a very long series, but his romanticism, his interior vein have rarely reached such heights. "You Can't Relive the Past" features Eric and Lou: the song is more Reed oriented than Andersen's and the acoustic duet, blunt and devoid of nostalgia, puts an end to the delusions that the past can be relived. Two songs, two ways of interpreting life: the one with Reed is more real whilst the former is dreamier.
Blues takes the lion' s share in "Gonna Go Crazy", where Eric measures himself with bluesmen like Sam Carr, James "Super Chickan" Johnson, Kenny Brown. The touching "Meadowlark" is the first of the four songs written with Townes. A classical conversational ballad, it more has Eric's sound than the Texan's: it's an on the road tale, a short diary of the tour the two artists went on not long before Van Zandt's death.
The sound of the guitars and Andersen's voice create a magic, dreamy, deep atmosphere. Blues again, this time far more electric, in "Every Once in a Pale Blue Moon": Andersen is not a blues singer, his singing is always folk but the sound surrounding it is rough and granulous like in the Fat Possum recordings, and it works. "Stand Me Up Easy" is one more blues - grungy drums, a throw-away voice, a dry guitar: Andersen definitely leaves prearranged schemes and adventures to places quite alien to him. But, as written before, his blues revisiting comes straight from his heart. "Dear Mama", dedicated to his wife, painter Unni Askeland, is a wonderful ballad A warm composition, played in a perfect way, with more voices (Eric and Lucy), with harmonica and a base of guitars, and a melody which is both nostalgic and joyful.
Much as the opening song, Dear Mama too is one of the best things ever written by Eric. "The Road" continues Eric and Townes 's personal diary: the song is closer to the Texan's style than The Meadow1ark. There's the basic sadness that's always been a Van Zandt characteristic, and a sense of melody that's inborn in Andersen's compositions. "Cold Country" is one more elegy dedicated to the past, to sweet and tempting sonorities, to warm and involving songs that have always been Andersen's trademark. Folk-rock music and popular tradition wa1k arm in arm in such ballads, where voices are primarily important and string instruments absolutely necessary. Magdalena is a long, deeply felt love song that develops on a plaintive melodic theme with a very terse instrumentation and Eric Frielander's cello. Robert Aaron's clarinet gives a jazzy touch and the song, over seven minutes long, winds across an almost imperceptible melody, with the final part all played on the various instruments. "The Blue March" ends the collaboration with Townes. It's a slow, rather obscure ballad that develops into a gloomy folk song: the finaI tribute to one of the greatest authors of last century. The short blues "Possum Reprise" closes the album. One of the best records in Andersen's long career, definitely.'
Paolo Caru, Buscadero
ALOHA #4, March 2000
"Eric Andersen belongs to the big names of the Greenwich Village-folk-scene from the sixties, together with Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton. In the past thirty years he produced over twenty albums. In itself no unique accomplishment, but what does plead for him, is that he doesn't live on old successes. He still makes high quality albums. The fact is, his last album You Can't Relive The Past is a beauty again. Andersen sings his folk- and blues-songs raw and intense, with a tenor that sometimes reminds one of Tom Waits. The title of the album is also the title of the second track, a song he wrote and sang together with Lou Reed."
ROOTS TOWN MAGAZINE 9-45 Eric Andersen/ You Can't Relive The Past / Appleseed APR CD 1032(66.46) **** (Central Distribution)
"You can say what you want about Eric Andersen, but you can't say he stands still. He may belong to the crop of folkies from the sixties, he is nevertheless a paragon of evolution. Did a fair amount of Gaye/Mayfield soul creep into his previous cd Memory Of The Future (especially the title-song), this one is fairly overwhelmingly hit by the delta blues. It was a couple of songs he wrote years ago, together with Townes Van Zandt, which led to this. On the one hand he wanted to give these songs a New York City-sound and on the other hand he wanted to drench them deeply in the blues, inspired by the friendship with blues-explorer Robert Palmer. The New York sessions bring the rather well known Andersen-sound. Semi-acoustic songs, cranked up by percussion, gently sloping, with some electronic guitar at the background. This way "Eyes Of The Immigrant", "Meadowlark" and "The Road" are going like a bomb, but particularly the dulcet "Magdalena" offers a delicious aftertaste of cello, flute and clarinet. The delta songs, that's a whole different story. Sweetness is gone and gave way to spiced, solid blues with the focus on the mucky thundering, cutting, sometimes chilling to the bone electric guitar and slide-work of Super Chikan Johnson and Kenny Brown. Whereas "Stand Me Up Easy" and "Gonna Go Crazy" are still rather amenable, "Every Once In A Pale Blue Moon" Kenny's slide constantly running through razor-sharp -- and "Night Train" -- the guitars fighting like dogs for Eric's peeping bone, sorry, harp) bang with force against the eardrums. It's definitely a five-star-CD. I beg your pardon, what do you say, there are only four? Humph, indeed, minus one for the title-song: one half for the fretfulness and one half for the nose-full-of-mucus voice of Lou Reed. I have that too, but you wont hear me sing.
PLATO MANIA #33, March, 2000 Recommended: Eric Andersen You Cant Relive The Past
"Eric Andersen has been around in the music industry for a long time. His first album Today Is The Highway was brought out in 1965. In those days his name was mentioned in one and the same breath with Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs. Andersen almost had fallen into oblivion, until he gave a remarkable strong sign of life with his previous album Memory Of The Future. The same goes for You Can't Relive The Past which won't go down unnoticed in the endless stream of new releases. This is partly due to the strong songs, but also for an important part to the presence of big names on this album, like Lou Reed and Townes Van Zandt. ...You Can't Relive The Past is a remarkable and very strong singer-songwriter album."
Metro-muziek (supplement to 'De Morgen', a Belgian paper) Eric Andersen You Can't Relive the Past
"Eric Andersen is one of those characters that during the sixties, together with Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton, prowl around the folk-scene of Greenwich Village. On his new CD he remains true to his, on fields like folk, rock and blues gathered roots. What's remarkable is that he is assisted in the title-song by co-author Lou Reed. Furthermore one can listen to four, assumed to be lost, songs that Andersen wrote fifteen years ago together with Townes Van Zandt. Timeless class. (Appleseed) DIRK STEENHAUT
www.heaven.be Eric Andersen You Can't Relive the Past Appleseed
"Hodgepodge Americana with a touch of Townes Eric Andersen's latest album You Can't Relive The Past, a remarkable fast successor to Memory Of The Future (1998), got the people and things that go by as a theme. The album breathes a through-lived sadder but wiser atmosphere: Andersen looks back at his past, mourns about his deceased friends (among which Townes van Zandt and Rock journalist Robert Palmer) but concludes in the title-song -- a surprising collaboration with contemporain Lou Reed, that one should not get stuck in the past."
OOR, nr. 5, March 2000 Eric Andersen You Can't Relive the Past
"This richly variegated piece of work rests on three pillars which have, on paper, little to do with each other. He writes and sings the title-song with Lou Reed. Four, almost lost, songs he has with Townes van Zandt, of which the Irish Meadowlark and The Road pure New Mexican desert-music belong to the highlights. Besides, he came down to Mississippi, where he recorded some songs with R.L.Burnside's guitarist Kenny Brown, drummer Sam Carr and chicken-freak James Super Chikan Johnson. But whether it's about Low down & dirty Fat Possum blues, or about refined chamber-folk Andersen manages to weld it to a fascinating unity, with his probing baritone and expressive lyric."
Herman Van Der Horst
"Eric Andersen is one of America's finest lyric-poet songwriters. He stands with his contemporaries Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell as one of the few remaining pioneers of the 60's singer-songwriter movement continuing to do important work".
GLITTERHOUSE (CD review magazine, Germany- Summer issue)
"After Memory Of The Future, Eric Andersen presents us with yet another great album which has a few peculiarities: One half of the album was produced in New York with the help of Artie Traum, Lucy Kaplanski and others and offers typical Andersen fare: Near whispered, imploring lyrics over a desolate, euphonic sound. The other half was laid down in a two day session in Mississippi with a small blues-combo - including drummer-legend Sam Carr and the excellent slide guitar player Kenny Brown. Those tracks alone convince because the air is charged with suspense when the practical philosophy of the "old" Folkie meets with the electric Delta Groove. Additionally the title-track was composed and done with Lou Reed and four songwriting credits are shared with Townes van Zandt. Impressive."
DAGBLADET (Norwegian national newspaper) You Can't Relive the Past
"After last year's masterful Memory of the Future, Eric Andersen has now released a new album of major significance. The title song he wrote and sang with Lou Reed and constitutes one track of the album. And equally exciting, are the 4 songs Andersen wrote with the recently departed Townes Van Zandt, in 1986. The tapes the two made were lost then suddenly reappeared last year at a friend's house in Albuquerque. Great songs performed by Eric Andersen on this blue-tinged record, which was also recorded in memory of Andersen and Van Zandt's common too-soon departed friend, Robert Palmer, one of the USA's greatest blues historians. Andersen projects himself musically in an open and inviting way, with lyrics of laid-back wisdom and poetic innovations. He's on a rootless pilgrimage in the landscape of American music traditions, from blues and rock to Waits and Dylan folk variations. A touching record. And melancholic, because neither the work's life or death is different than what Van Zandt and Andersen expressed in "The Road."- "I am dry, soon be dust, blown across these trails." A beautiful record, both musically refined and lyrically thoughtful."
Fredrik Wandrup, February, 2000 5 stars.