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The “Levee Town Expanded Edition” is here!
The second release on Sonny Landreth’s Landfall Records label has arrived! The “Levee Town Expanded Edition” is now available at select retailers worldwide as well as online here. The album package now incorporates a second disc featuring five previously unreleased tracks, additional artwork and a remastered version of the original disc.
A song-by-song description of the additional tracks follows, but first some background. “The truth is, I felt like ‘Levee Town’ never got its due way back in 2000,” Sonny says. “I was in the middle of a big change with management, the booking agency and the label, and I feel like now’s a good opportunity to make things right. The masters have reverted to me and I decided now would be a good time to re-release the album and share a little more of the story of that time.”
The remastered album features guest appearances by John Hiatt, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, Herb Pedersen and The White Trash Horns. “I think conceptually it brought together my work as a singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and producer, and Megan Barra’s beautiful package was nominated for a Grammy,” Sonny adds.
“For me, ‘Levee Town’ completed a trilogy that began with ‘Outward Bound’ in 1992 and continued with ‘South of I-10’ in 1995,” Sonny explains. “At that point I wanted to dig even deeper into the story-song concept with a lot of imagery from my part of the world. It’s really inspirational to live here. And the deeper I go, the more inspired I get.”
“Levee Town” was co-produced by TV music kingpin Mike Post. “I had played for Mike’s wedding and he ended up inviting me out to Los Angeles to work on a show he was writing,” Sonny says. “Then he called me and said he wanted to get me in a studio and get this record off the ground. He was a tremendous help.”
Sonny took the tracks he’d co-produced with Post and headed back to south Louisiana, adding guitar tracks in his home studio before moving to Dockside Studios and bringing in producer R.S. Field to help complete the project. “Working with both those guys was a real creative experience, and I’m thrilled with the results,” Sonny says.
“With ‘Levee Town,’ I really felt like I’d come full circle,” Sonny continues. “Here it was 10 years after my early years with Hiatt, and I was back playing with him, having more fun than ever. I also enjoyed working with my old friend Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil, who also guests on the album. We grew up playing music and learned a lot from each other. The album has a lot of different elements, and I think that’s what made the whole thing work.”
Expanded song-by-song notes
The bonus tracks included on the expanded edition come from the same period as the original recordings, and several of them were considered for inclusion on the original album. You can listen to sound clips of ’em here. Sonny's comments on the tracks follow.
“‘Pedal To The Metal’ has been the band’s encore for a long time so I thought I'd finally release this original studio version for people to check out. I’d intended to save this track up for an instrumental album but ended up recording it a second time for our 2005 live album ‘Grant Street.’ The live version has evolved to include an extended jam on the outro and the studio version is faster – a lot faster!”
“‘For Who We Are (The Nightbird Sings)’ is a song I co-wrote with Will Jennings. He and I also wrote ‘Angeline,’ and this one, like ‘Love and Glory,’ features Jennifer Warnes on vocals. This is the only song I’ve added guitar to: for the solo, I used one of James Trussart’s Steelcaster guitars that he built for me.”
“‘Old Flame’ is a throwback to the slow dance groove I grew up on in South Louisiana. The title has a double meaning. One is a pretty obvious reference people make to past relationships [like in the second verse of ‘A World Away’ on 2003’s ‘The Road We’re On’ – Ed.]. Old Flame is also the name I gave a very special guitar that I used on this track, it’s a vintage Les Paul that was given to me by my late best friend Tommy Comeaux.”
A more skeletal version of “Road A Plenty” has been a free download in our Lagniappe section for a long time. This expanded edition version includes the amazing percussion loop Tony Daigle created while Sonny was on the road in January 2009. “He recorded a complex collage of sounds including him pounding on the console in his studio, stomping on the floor and layering triangle, cowbell, shaker and I don’t know what all else on top,” Sonny says. “He also triggered a weird low-end frequency that sounds like it could’ve been used in the Steven Spielberg movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’ Very cool.”
“Along with ‘For Who We Are,’ ‘Fare You Well’ is one of my favorite mixes for this project. I think it has a melodic sentiment that weaves in and out of the lighter 6/8 rhythm in the verses and the harder, bluesier 3/4 feel in the solo section. Also, I love the combination of Sam Broussard’s subtle acoustic guitars with the power of Steve Conn’s keyboards. Though the 1999 band tracks would’ve held up just fine, the overdubs these guys added earlier this year turned this instrumental session into a track that feels like it pulls together an album’s worth of imagery.”