This disc contains recordings of Michelle Shocked during a serendipitous meeting between English music enthusiast and wannabe record label exec Pete Lawrence and Shocked. The story goes that they were both attending the 1986 Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas when, during a walk around the campgrounds, Lawrence heard Shocked playing and asked if she would sing some of her songs for him. He produced a Sony Walkman cassette recorder and off they went. Shocked apparently thought nothing more of it until she received word that her new album had charted in England. She made the most of the opportunity and performed her very first professional gig at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The album's lo-to-no fidelity actually works in favor of overall ambience as it creates a palpably organic backdrop for Shocked's uniformly enchanting tales. Her honestly executed material provides stripped-down authenticity that perfectly matches the singer/songwriter's original voice. The ultimately informal performance allows Shocked to effortlessly segue songs together into mini-medleys and give brief spoken explanations of tracks such as "The Incomplete Image" -- which seems to be more of a description of the fragmented work than an arbitrary title. Musically, Shocked seems to deeply draw upon the ramblin' imagery of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie on tracks such as "Down on Thomas Street" or her Bay Area ode "Fogtown." In 2003 Shocked and producer Cheryl Pawelski reissued a complete version of these recordings titled Texas Campfire Takes (2003) . The two-disc set presents both the released version of Texas Campfire Tapes (1986) as well as an expanded and speed-corrected version of the entire impromptu field recording that was also tweaked to extract as much fidelity as possible from the tapes.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer