Triple Played: Little Willies’ CD of classic country covers gets year off to sound start

The best release so far this year is the Little Willies’ “For the Good Times” a jazzy and jazzed up disc of covers of classic country tunes from the likes of Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Kris Kristofferson, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.

I know it’s only three weeks into the year, but if this CD is any indication, it is going to be a good year for great music.

Fronted by Norah Jones and made up of Jones and four of her friends who have been playing together since 2003, the Little Willies only other CD was released in 2006 on Milking Bull Records.

If the major record labels follow up on their threat to discontinue the production of CDs by the end of this year, so be it. It is the smaller independent labels that will survive just as it is the small independent record stores that are surviving and in some cases thriving.

It is the big labels and the big chain stores with their inherent greed and myopic view that created this problem along with their lack of focus on their customers. I will focus more on this issue in a future column.

But right now, there are many new releases and re-issues that I am looking forward to in the coming year starting with the U.S. release of Joe Cocker’s “Hard Knocks” on Tuesday, Jan. 24. I have heard most of the songs and Cocker is every bit as soulful as he was on his last release, “Hymn For My Soul” in 2007.

Paul McCartney salutes some of his favorite songs on his new CD “Kisses On the Bottom” out Feb. 7. The album features a dozen covers and two originals and is named after part of a verse from Fats Wallers’ “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” the first song on the disc.

Lyle Lovett releases his final CD for Curb Records on Feb. 28, then he will begin marketing and producing his own music. The aptly titled “Release Me” is said to be a mix of originals and covers along with two songs from Lovett’s recent Christmas EP.

Bruce Springsteen will release an 11-track studio album titled “Wrecking Ball” on March 6. Then, on March 15, Springsteen is scheduled to give the keynote address at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

A source close to Springsteen told the Hollywood Reporter that Springsteen thinks, “this is the angriest album I have ever made.”

Mitch Ryder, one of many who influenced Springsteen, releases his first U.S. album in 40 years with “The Promise” on Feb. 13. Ryder was the leader of the Detroit Wheels and responsible for the hits “Breakout,” “Jenny Take a Ride” and “Sock it to Me Baby,” among others.

Bonnie Raitt, who recently was named one of the Top 100 guitarists by Rolling Stone Magazine, releases “Slipstream” in April. The CD is her first new album in seven years and is a mix of rock blues and soul featuring two tracks written by Bob Dylan.

Speaking of Dylan, on Tuesday the four-CD set “Chimes of Freedom” comes out. It features Dylan songs from the likes of Johnny Cash, Ziggy Marley, Tom Morello, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Pete Townshend, My Morning Jacket, Mark Knopfler, Lenny Kravitz, Queens Of the Stone Age and Steve Earle, to name just a few. A total of 73 songs for less than $30. So expect to hear more about this from me.

For a full overview about “Chimes of Freedom,” go to


Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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