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American Hips (Live)

Jim Campilongo

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Album Review

Jim Campilongo may have been influenced by country musicians such as Speedy West, but American Hips probably isn't what people who are unfamiliar with Campilongo's oeuvre would expect from a country record. There isn't someone like pedal steel player Joe Goldmark (who appeared on some of Campilongo's previous recordings) around to remind people of Campilongo's country roots; instead, Campilongo has teamed up with drummer Dan Rieser (Norah Jones, Bert Seager, Stephan Crump) and bassist Tim Luntzel (Arkadia Jazz All-Stars), both of whom have backgrounds in jazz. Furthermore, jazz vocalist Norah Jones appears on two tracks (the only ones that aren't instrumentals): the Don Gibson standard "Sweet Dreams" and the Campilongo original (with lyrics by Kurt Stevenson and Kate Maher) "Stella." Meanwhile, Campilongo's Telecaster playing alternates between twangy, bluesy, bouncy, soulful, ominous (particularly on the impressive "Cat Under a Car"), and sedate (particularly on the dull cover version of the Beatles' "Michelle"). Campilongo deserves credit for not having a cookie-cutter sound, and he demonstrates that playing skillfully but simply with both feeling and restraint is better than getting carried away with ostentatious displays of technique. All of the album's tracks were recorded live in the studio, which probably contributes to the spontaneity of the performances; both Campilongo's knack for writing offbeat melodies and his rhythm section's ace support help make this album a pleasant listening experience.

Customer Reviews

maybe I'm biased ...

I thought "Michelle" was understated and achieved a lonely, yearning quality that I'm still quite proud of.  I thought Tim Luntzel and Dan Rieser played brilliantly on this piece and they keep it interesting, while always supporting the motif.  "Michelle" was an ambitious undertaking using space and reverb to obtain shades of grey, more then broad strokes of vibrant colors... maybe some can find it "dull", but I find it successfullly dark and "noir".  Hope I don't seem full of myself, or even agitated, I'm not at all. I just disagree with this reviewer.  I do appreciate the time the reviewer took to write it, and although the review is not particularly insightful, it is fairly workman-like. -Jim

Defies classification

I started listening to Jim Campilongo without researching his roots and influences. I'd say he has a sound that's all his own. I am inspired by the sounds he gets out of that Telecaster, and the fact that he knows when not to play. He's not just filling the space with impressive riffs.

Words Can't Describe It

I know I said something like this in another review, but Campilongo is a "Hendrix" in regards to his ability to make music that communicates a full range of human emotions. Those aspects of us that can't quite be nailed down, words can't describe it, are carefully and easily conveyed in instrumentals such as "Cat Under a Car" or "Bought Some Swampland in Florida." This is wonderful music to listen to with a glass of wine in your hand. Since you can't put into a simple genre box, all that is left for the listener is to enjoy what they're hearing. Some of my favorite Campilongo tunes are on this album. It's just a shame that you can't buy the entire album online here.

Biography

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Jim Campilongo was born and raised in San Francisco and began playing guitar in the mid-'70s, buying his first guitar with Green Stamps. His first teacher exposed him to a wide variety of music, but it was hearing Roy Buchanan that convinced him to make a living as a guitarist. By the early '90s, Campilongo was taking guitar students, in addition to playing with a variety of groups in a variety of styles. In 1990, one of those students gave him a 1959 Telecaster in exchange for some bass lessons...
Full Bio
American Hips (Live), Jim Campilongo
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