This album will satisfy the new or seasoned fan of the Hacienda Brothers. It is a tribute to the marvel that was Chris Gaffney, and his collaboration with Dave Gonzalez and the rest of the Hacienda Brothers! This album "Western Soul", will not disappoint! It has collectible artwork and lots of extra photos, too. Bonus: If you purchase the vinyl, you receive a free digital download, as well!
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The Hacienda Brothers released their final record in 2008, right after their bandleader and dear friend Chris Gaffney had unexpectedly passed away. The band was at the height of its career, having been nominated at the end of 2007 for the Americana Music Awards “Group of the Year” category. The Hacienda Brothers had put out four records in the span of four years and they were rolling with momentum, but that all came to a crashing halt with the loss of Gaffney. This tragedy also struck the roots music community very hard and a tribute album produced by Dave Alvin followed in 2009.
What his fans didn’t realize, was that there were seven unreleased studio tracks remaining, which not only highlighted the amazing voice of Chris Gaffney but also the tightness and musical proficiency of the Hacienda Brothers. Recorded in early 2005, these tracks were produced by guitarist and founding member Dave Gonzalez. The band, which also featured Dave Berzansky on steel, Hank Maninger on bass and Dale Daniel on drums, had gone into the studio fresh off their first year of touring. They had decided to lay down some tracks that were written and recorded by their heroes, such as Hank Cochran’s “Don’t Touch Me” sung by Tammy Wynette, Johnny Paycheck’s “Or Is It Love” and “Bayou Bum”, plus Bobby Bare’s “Leavin’ Town” and Lynn Anderson’s “Yes Virginia” both sung by Waylon Jennings. The Hacienda Brothers put their own indelible stamp on these classics and they became staples of their live shows.
Western Soul now showcases these long-lost tracks along with the band’s original demos, rough mixes and alternate takes. The release, distributed by LUX Records, is sixteen cuts comprised of either new songs or versions of songs that have never been released before. The four demos represented here, all in their original form, were the songs that were sent to the legendary producer Dan Penn back in 2003. Upon receiving the songs, he immediately told the guys that he heard a sound coming out of the Tucson sessions that he dubbed Western Soul. It was these first demos that got Penn excited enough to get in his Lincoln Town Car and drive from Nashville to Arizona to produce the band’s debut release.
Western Soul Producer Jeb Schoonover, who was also a founding member and served as the group’s manager, had been tasked with the job of collecting all the recordings and outtakes from the various recording sessions that took place in Tucson, where the band’s headquarters are located. Last summer, when the idea of a new release that would pay tribute to the ten-year anniversary of Gaff’s passing arose, Schoonover immediately went to work combing through all the stored boxes and rolls of tape. The digging unearthed a few gems, such as two rough mixes from that debut session with Penn. “I’ve Got a Secret” and “Looking for Loneliness” were stripped down, raw and soulful, with the emphasis on Gaff’s vocal and Dave’s guitar. Schoonover also tapped into a couple of alternate takes that he found. “A Lot of Days Are Gone” had missing Gaffney vocals and a whole extra solo section, both of which got reinserted. And what many consider Gaffney’s signature song “Cowboys to Girls” is included here, with the original vocal take and extended rap at the end. To all that knew him this version is classic Gaffney, you get his amazing talent combined with a good dose of humor. Rounding out the release is a haunting acoustic version of “Leavin’ Town,” almost as if Gaffney himself is saying goodbye. While he may be gone, with Western Soul what remains is one final tribute to the man and the band that helped pave the road right through the intersection of country and soul.