Tuesday, October 23, 2007

by bluenorther #10

Cassell Webb "Conversations at Dawn" 1990

Texas-born Cassell Webb has enjoyed a career that carried her from late-'60s psychedelia to country music and latter-day folk-rock to progressive rock/pop, and moved her across an ocean in the process. Her voice, which can sound ethereal or mournful and crosses genres as easily as Webb's career has over more than 30 years. Born in Llano, TX, in the late '40s, Webb began playing guitar at 14 and later gravitated to the psychedelic scene in San Antonio. She became a member of the Children, a psychedelic outfit that was part of Lelan Rodgers' stable of artists, appearing on their 1968 Rebirth album and several singles. She later joined Saddlesore, a Texas combo whose core members, Mayo Thompson and Rick Barthelme, were survivors from the Red Krayola (another Rodgers-managed act). They stayed together long enough to record one single ("Old Tom Clark") on the Texas Revolution label before disappearing in the early '70s. Webb spent time in California and New York working as a session singer and acquiring some knowledge of production as well and then returned to Texas, where she spent the next few years working with such country artists as Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, and B.W. Stevenson. It was around the time she began writing songs that she also began her long association with songwriter/producer Craig Leon. Webb went to Europe in the early '80s, first to Holland and then to England, where she remained permanently and began her solo recording career. Initially signed to the tiny independent label Statick Records, for which she recorded her debut album, Llano, she later joined the roster of Venture Records, an off-shoot of Richard Branson's Virgin Records label, through which she recorded Thief of Sadness in 1987. Webb's most representative and popular album was her third, Songs of a Stranger, which was derived from her concert repertory of other writers' music, including Jimmy Webb ("P.F. Sloan"), Nick Drake ("Time Has Told Me"), Townes Van Zandt ("If I Needed You"), and Phil Ochs ("Jim Dean of Indiana"). Webb remains based in England, where her work on such radio programs as Saturday Sequence, coupled with periodic album releases and projects, such as the dance score "Klub Anima" (co-written with Leon), and singing and production work with artists such as Marillion's Steve Hogarth have sustained her career in music. Her poetry has also been published by Pen & Ink of Ann Arbor, MI. Webb's hauntingly lyrical version of the Rolling Stones classic "Tell Me," from her 1990 album Conversations at Dawn (which also included her covers of Bruce Springsteen's "Reason to Believe" and -- in a nod to her own Texas psychedelic roots -- the 13th Floor Elevators' "Splash One"), has been included on the Connoisseur Collection's Jagger/Richard Songbook CD, alongside recordings by the Flamin' Groovies, the Who, Mary Coughlan, Naked Prey, Melanie, Marianne Faithfull, and Ike & Tina Turner. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide


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