Musical artists come and go. They come in various musical genres. Some are good and you wish they wouldn’t leave. Some are bad and you try and shoo them out of the industry as soon as possible. Sometimes they become well known and other times they sit in the underground, content to play to crowds of 20 people. And sometimes some musical artists never leave. For instance, Johnny Cash has been in the music business for longer than the majority of us can remember.
On a lesser scale than Johnny Cash (both age wise and stature) there is Michael Knott. Knott has been releasing cds since the ’80s. He’s been in several bands (Lifesavers, Lifesavers Underground, LSU, Aunt Betties, and so forth) in addition to a boat load of solo stuff. Most of his (and his bands) cds are way out of print and several (especially “The Grape Prophet”) routinely bring over $50 a copy on Ebay.com on the rare occation someone parts with them. His musical facades vary from a singer-songwriter folk (like his recent solo discs), to alternative (LSU), to surf/punk rock (Lifesavers), and even glam rock (Bomb Bay Babies). Between his various projects he often ends up releasing several cds a year on various labels. He is a fan’s dream and a collector’s nightmare. It is just about impossible to locate every album he’s released or worked with.
His most recent offering is “Hearts of Care”. As with his recent solo cds, this one offers a lot of acoustic folk rock. There are several surprises with this specific cd, though. First is the addition of violins and harmonica on some of the tracks. This gives some of the songs a simular feel as his LSU cd “Dogfish Jones” (one of those rare, out of print deals). The majority of the other songs fit in well with a solo cd from a few years ago, “Life of David”. As with that cd, this one starts off with a few up beat, multi-instrument songs, before slowing it down to the bare essentials.
The addition of the harmonica makes track two sound kind of Dylan-ish, music wise, however Knott’s vocals are very distinctive and unlike Dylan (not to mention the fact that Knott gets into the music and it becomes like an emotion running through him, where Dylan has almost a cold indifference).
Most of these songs are good and solid. The ones with the added instruments (violin and harmonica) sparkle more than the others, however. This will satisfy Mike Knott fans, and hopefully can introduce some new ones. (Unfortunately, he will probably always be an underground figure, thus prone to low sales.) But those who miss this cd will have a chance at others, I’m sure. Knott is the kind of man, like Cash, who will make records until he’s physically unable.
You can get “Hearts of Care” (along with a few of his other still in print cds) at www.grassrootsmusic.com or from the record label, www.northernrecords.com.