Here's a lost 1980 private press classic from brothers Will & James Ragar, also known as the Will-James Duo. This is one for everyone who gets what's good about Robert Lester Folsom, Jeff Eubank, and Les Moore -- all southern artists keeping their machismo in check, whose music seems to be very much about what it means to be a man in the topsy turvy modern world.
Aaron Milenski says it well in the new edition of The Acid Archives: "This private press is kind of a late discovery, but quickly became a hot item among soft rock collectors. Like much of the genre, it has harmony singing and a lot of acoustic guitars, but it's not exactly folky... much more esoteric than usual... nimbly played, structurally creative... a smooth late-night mood... this is a strong album... Recommended for those who like their soft rock with more substance and less cheese."
|'As The Day Grows Tired'|
Now let's just stop and take a look at the cover art on this one. Like all great cover art, it captures the special mood and essence of the record. Really take a second to appreciate how weirdly great this is.
Pencil on graph paper is very hard to reproduce, but our good friends at the always on it Riverman label in Korea did an excellent job with, just as they nailed the mastering on this.
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Here are the liner notes to the CD by James Ragar:
We started out as the Will James Band doing live gigs in the Louisiana club scene, playing blues, rock and jazz combos, covering everything from James Taylor to Jimi Hendrix. We evolved into a mostly acoustic folk-rock duo by the time we did our album in 1980.
No Mountain Studio in Midland Texas was a haven for singer-songwriters. The No Mountain name came from their engineer, Nick Carlton; it was a commentary on the bleak dessert atmosphere of the Midland area. Sand, Mesquite trees and oil fields kept us indoors for the most part. Nick heard us perform at Eden's, our first gig in the Midland area, and wanted to record us. He generously engineered the album and handled the mastering process in hopes that our LP would be picked up by a national label. We were all quite energized. After gigging for several weeks we set aside a week and recorded on Nick's 8-track Tascam recorder. It wasn't much time and the atmosphere was intense, but we were excited. The Midland newspaper published photos and interviews from the session. Christi Branum designed the cover art from a pencil sketch, and Baron Wilson added the calligraphy. The songs 'Forever' and 'Bayou Paradise' were recorded on a 24-track MCI Deck at River City Studios in Baton Rouge, Louisiana shortly after the album was recorded.
Our agent Doug Lockard booked a first gig in west Texas, initiating our long tour of Texas colleges and clubs. The Midland-Odessa area had a lively club scene and a fondness for singer-songwriters. We really enjoyed playing gigs in Texas and audiences were receptive to original songs in the mix.
We performed with the prolific Delta blues artist Taj Mahal during his reggae series. After I warmed up on guitar, Taj treated us to an intimate set of solo Delta blues classics backstage. Here was one of the most influential Delta blues guitarists, and it was obvious that he was a genuine and warm soul.
We played two shows with Stephen Stills during his dancehall club tour featuring the California Blues Band. He wore his cousin Mack's old Louisiana state trooper uniform during the show and excited the audience with his current hit 'Dark Star'. We worked for Mack at his bar The Caterie in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge also had a national touring club venue in the Kingfish Bar. We played opening sets there for David Bromberg, Louisiana's LaRoix, Jerry Lacroix and Dixie, Billy Cobham and Alvin Batiste, and Andy Pratt as well.
We were chosen for the Southwest regional songwriter's showcase in Dallas, Texas, and Jay Leno hosted the competition. We played a college tour in the region with an emphasis on original songs from our album. Texas audiences were receptive to this acoustic duo with a touch of Louisiana style. We were chosen to perform in the songwriter category showcase at the Kerrville Folk Festival in the gorgeous Texas hill country. We saw "miles and miles of Texas," traveling from the striking Davis Mountains to the beachfront in Corpus Christi on the Gulf, called the "land of the lotus eaters" by the locals. With years of return gigs at clubs in the region we played two or three weeks in each city and traveled most of the year.
After our LP release there was an oil bust that hit Texas hard and many venues disappeared. The payola scandal affected the once indie-friendly DJ's on FM radio stations, and it became clear that the decline in live music would continue. We continued playing local gigs and recorded several projects in our home studio environment but did not get interest from the majors. We decided to focus on live gigs and started playing more electric blues. We continue to record at home studios and perform locally. Although live music may never be quite the same as in the 1970's, things are always changing and who knows what will happen. This CD collects all of our professional studio recordings pressed to vinyl and captures the warm, analog sound of the era.