A genius songwriter, Paul Siebel. He made 2 fantastic studio albums, and one live album, that's all...
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Paul Seibel Siebel Paul P Siebel Woodsmoke Orange Woodstock
"PAUL SIEBEL Live":
the best worst album I ever found
Paul Siebel is a legendary folk-country singer songwriter.
Normally, to obtain the status of a legend in music, it suffices to record some great songs
over 1-2 years and then die tragically. Like Robert Johnson, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Kurt Corbain et al, they played it smart.
But Paul Siebel did better: after having made 2 fabulous albums, he just stopped. And sort of disappeared. But still lives.
There hasnít been written a lot about the man Paul Siebel.
There are some reviews on his two Elektra albums,
1970 Woodsmoke and Oranges and 1971 Jack-Knife Gypsy. Fantastic albums, with a few classic originals,
gratefully covered by Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kate Wolf, Mary McCaslin, Linda Ronstadt, etc.
Siebel just made those 2 albums, 21 songs in all. After 1971 not much news about Siebel emerged.
A last 22nd song, "Spanish Johnny", was recorded by David Bromberg, Siebelís version was never released.
Most people will be familiar with Emmylou Harris' cover of the song.
Now and then Siebel's name came up: in interviews with other artists. Some rumors were heard, he played in McCabes in 1978,
what was considered a come-back, and was on a 1977 LP (1992 on cd) Music From Mud Acres - though mainly on the liner notes.
He did not write any other new song.
In 1996 Folk Magazine Dirty Linen traced him down and talked with the then 58 years old bread-baker
(Issue #64, June/July 1996, worth reading!).
I wonít go into his 2 studio albums.
These are easy to get on eBay or elsewhere second hand, and they have been released on cd.
These songs all are fantastic, I think. Though, if you are allergic to the crow-like voices
of other Jewish singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan or Kinky Friedman, you better skip Siebel.
Here I just focus on Siebelís obscure third and last album.
I recently saw it in a shop and immediately bought it. It turned out to be the best worst album I ever found.
Don't get me wrong: I love it.
Siebelís limited vocal capacities painfully show on this live recording. He sings no new songs.
Half of the songs are from his 2 studio albums, the other half covers of country evergreens.
Accompanied by old pal David Bromberg and Gary White on guitar, they seem to make the best of it in the given situation.
Iím so glad I didnít hesitate a moment, I did not consider to listen to it first. I would have been tempted not to buy it.
So glad I bought the record instantly.
It was released on an obscure label. Information to the songs on the album is inaccurate.
Doubt if it ever paid Siebel any dues (probably wouldnít do much good, considering the sales...).
September 2008, on Spectropop,
Steve Harley notes:
"Siebel drives a truck now and while passing through town will occasionally call Philly Pholk DJ Gene Shay."
Willy DeVille cut a cover of Louise, on his 2008 cd release
Recent release: cd with all 21 Paul Siebel's Elektra tracks, PLUS an unreleased new one, "Nervous" !
The excellent liner notes tell the sad story of Paul's career more seriously and truthfully than I did.
Even the live album now seems to be re-released on cd. It is a Rag Baby Records release,
a small label with mainly Country Joe McDonald music. But read my review of the songs below before you're gonna order...
Paul recently played (pic left) at the Forum Coffeehouse Reunion Concert.
Too few people were there, under a bridge next to the busy traffic, hearing Paul play. Wish I had known, I would have
come straight away...
The album: Paul Siebel: Live, with David Bromberg & Gary White
1. Lonesome House 4:15 (Jefferson/ Siebel)
A traditional blues, "Lonesome House Blues", recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927.
Got no idea why Siebel is listed as a co-composer...
2. Women Make A Fool Out Of Me 3:05 (Jimmy Rodgers)
On album #1, Siebel did a nice, original, hilarious yodel in the song She Made Me Lose My Blues.
Now this old Jimmie Rodgersí song allows Siebel to venture another yodel, more unrestrained than his studio recorded yodel.
3. Iím In The Jailhouse Now 2:17 (Jimmy Rodgers)
Another song credited to Jimmy (sic) Rodgers. In fact it is an old traditional blues song,
Jimmie Rodgers did not write it. But his recording was the big seller in the 1920s,
and his copyright was claimed. Older versions than Rodgersí recording exist:
by Buford 'Whistler' Threlkeld & His Jug Band, Earl McDonald, Blind Blake & Gus Cannon, they all recorded before Jimmie Rodgers.
4. If I Could Stay 3:38 (Paul Siebel)
A beautiful, poetic song. And a song, too difficult for Siebel to sing.
It already showed on Album#2: even in the studio, it was aiming too high to record a decent vocal part of the song.
Now this live performance is a complete disaster. Or is he just imitating Mrs Miller...?
5. You Are My Sunshine 2:20 (J. Davis/ C. Mitchell)
I got bad shivers all over when I hear Siebel sing this classic song, originally written by Paul Rice
(Jimmie Davis bought off the composers rights, what turned out to be a very lucrative deal!).
At the end, Siebel concludes the song with a "Thank you.., if Willie Nelson can do it, I can do it !".
1. Iím So Lonesome I Could Cry 2:45 (Hank Williams)
Sung in a slow, howling way. I imagine that, while singing this song, the picture used on the LP cover was taken.
2. Pinto Pony 2:35 (Paul Siebel)
A great song from Album 2.
Nice guitars on this live version could have made this one of the better tracks,
but unfortunalely Siebel gets carried away after the guitar break while singing the last verse.
3. Itís A Long Way To Nashville 3:00 (Paul Siebel)
On his first album the song was just titled "Nashville Again".
Beautiful lyrics, great song. The live version has nice Spanish guitarissimo and Siebelís voice comes off pretty well.
4. Louise 3:40 (Paul Siebel)
Paul Siebelís signature song.
Lots of good covers of this little song: Leo Kottke, Linda Ronstadt, Ian Matthews & Plainsong, Bonnie Raitt.
5. Honest Sam 3:50 (Paul Siebel)
On album #1 this song officially was entitled "The Ballad of Honest Sam".
Another fantastic story, sung to an nice honky tonk melody.
Recorded at McCabes in Los Angeles on June 9, 1978
David Bromberg appears courtesy of Fantasy Records
(p) 1980 Rag Baby Records
Manufactured and Marketed by INTERCORD Ton GmbH, Licensee
Printed in Western Germany
Rag Baby Records INT 147.403 Stereo/ Mono