McCamy’s Melody Sheiks featuring R. Crumb
There’s More Pretty Girls Than One
4 stars (out of 5)
By Aaron Keith Harris
First off, if you haven’t seen director Terry Zwigoff’s 1994 documentary Crumb, do so now.
Having done that, you know who Robert Crumb is and why it’s not surprising that this American expatriate to France who digs old records is a guest artist on Ian McCamy’s fiddle project for the indispensible Arhoolie Records. You also know why There’s More Pretty Girls Than One is an apt title.
Crumb plays an easy rhythm guitar on all but a couple of the disc’s 17 tracks (he plays tenor banjo on the opening cut “Home! Sweet Home!”) and sings in a pretty straight old-time style on a a couple of familiar numbers: Charlie Poole’s “Goodbye Booze” and the the title track, which sounds fresh here for having been taken at more languid pace than is usual these days.
McCamy and his band—Stephen Harrison (piano, double bass, five-string banjo) and Ilan Moss (fiddle, five-string banjo)—are the real treat here, making this 51-minute pass down the memory lane populated by long-lost 78-rpm records a pleasure for devotees and newcomers alike, hopefully prompting the latter to track down some of the names in the liner notes for further listening.
McCamy’s fiddle tone and approach are perfect for this project, grabbing all the old, woody tones without overplaying the nostalgia. When Moss joins on twin fiddle, as on “Old Molly Hare,” “Drunken Hiccups,” and “Sail Away Ladies, Sail Away,” it gets even better.