What we have here are two realities of the digital age: a pair of splendidly recorded solo acoustic records by singer/songsmith/guitarists known far more for their work as members of cherished rock troupes than for music issued under their own names. Both works are available almost exclusively as downloads.
The first is Lindsey Buckingham's One Man Show, a near-exact replica, right down to the between-song banter, of the program that the Fleetwood Mac frontman gave at the Lexington Opera House in November. Regardless of such a steadfast repertoire, this is a blistering set mostly because Buckingham obliterates the concept of what a solo acoustic concert can be.
One Man Show is not some folkie reinvention of Buckingham's music in and out of Fleetwood Mac. It is, rather, what its title implies: an unaccompanied rock parade that just happens to be acoustic. From Buckingham's ageless vocal howl to guitar work that exerts itself with dizzying exactness, the record is steeped in frenzy.
It doesn't matter whether the music stews in the brooding intensity of Go Insane, Never Going Back Again and So Afraid or boils over with the hopped-up drive of Big Love, where the guitar runs sound positively caffeinated. Either way, Buckingham presents One Man Show as a restless joyride.
Big Mac faves make up roughly half the album, and Buckingham fleshes out the remainder with some genuine surprises. From the early '70s comes the pre-Fleetwood Mac instrumental Stephanie, One Man Show's lone statement of solace. But the real treats come by way of three tunes from Buckingham's underrated 2007 solo album, Under the Skin, highlighted by the bittersweet departure meditation Cast Away Dreams.
As of now, One Man Show is available only through iTunes.
Mike Cooley's The Fool on Every Corner is an altogether calmer beast. As one of the two primary vocalist/guitarists for Drive-By Truckers, Cooley has helped provide a new-generational voice for Southern rock 'n' roll. But unlike Truckers co-chieftain Patterson Hood, who regularly tours and records on his own, Cooley is relatively new to performance life outside the band.
The Fool on Every Corner is a relaxed and slightly boozy compendium of songs Cooley has written for the Truckers, along with one new entry: Drinking Coke and Eating Ice. The resulting record is pulled from solo concerts given last year in Atlanta.
Bolstered by Truckers faves Three Dimes Down, Where the Devil Don't Stay and Shut Up and Get on the Plane, the album bares its barroom spirit readily with a loose, often whispery performance that sounds like vintage Willie Nelson, but with a darker, more rural slant.
The Fool on Every Corner will be issued later this month on vinyl, but it is available now through all major digital music outlets.
Read Walter Tunis' blog, The Musical Box, at LexGo.com.