No question, the highlight of my Monday was the receipt of an advance copy of The Birmingham Tapes, a 22-song compilation featuring such local luminaries as Wild Sweet Orange, Kate Taylor, Taylor Hollingsworth, Duquette Johnston, Red Harp, Through the Sparks, The Great Book of John, Dan Sartain and Henry Dunkle. The latter served as the mastermind of the whole project, mixing and recording every song, including a few of his own: Dunkle doesn't have a solo number on the CD, but collaborated with three different acts (Bekah Fox, Red Harp and Jonathan Crain) for three different tracks ("Crying with the Red Light On," "The World is Free" and "Dogwood").
While most of the music is new, the method by which it was put together was deliberately old-school. At least, that's what's averred on the liner notes: "The Birmingham Tapes was recorded to 1/4th inch tape between March and June of 2009. All songs were recorded in the same analog studio. No computers were used during the recording or mixing of this album."
Until this afternoon, I had never heard of the band Spells, but their "Somber and Sunlight"
is my favorite track on The Birmingham Tapes.
A CD release party is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 16, at Bottletree. Meanwhile, about half of the album is online at www.myspace.com/thebirminghamtapes