I have been listening to Lyle Lovett albums since he released his self-titled debut album in 1986, but it is his fourth album, Joshua Judges Ruth, which came out in 1992, that I regularly use for demonstrations.
This is because it has the right ingredient of great music superbly recorded, something that can be guaranteed on a Lyle Lovett album produced, recorded and mixed by George Massenburg, and mastered by Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab in Hollywood, California. Lyle Lovett is known as a country singer-songwriter, but there is really only one country track on this album, the tongue-in-cheek ‘She’s Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To’, with Emmylou Harris on harmony vocal. In fact there is a lot of humour in songs such as ‘I’ve Been To Memphis’ and ‘Church’, as well as in the album title Joshua Judges Ruth, which is a biblical reference to three consecutive books from the Old Testament. The songs here are mainly a mixture of R&B, gospel, soul, jazz and Texas swing.
The track I use most for demonstration is the first one, ‘I’ve Been To Memphis’. It opens with some thunderous notes on the piano. Next comes the drums, followed by an acoustic rhythm guitar, and then the bass, before Lovett starts to sing, which makes it easy to follow. One of the difficulties in selecting music to play in demonstrations is in trying to find a piece which builds up quickly so that you can compare it on a couple of different items of equipment. There are many great tracks that take about five minutes to get going. This is fine when you want to highlight how good a whole system sounds, but is useless for a comparative demonstration. Fortunately, ‘I’ve Been to Memphis’ builds up in less than forty-five seconds, and so is ideal. Another song that I regularly use is the ballad, ‘North Dakota’. On this track Lovett is joined by Rickie Lee Jones on harmony vocal, with Matt Rollings on piano, Dean Parks on guitar, Leland Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums, who play on the rest of the album.