Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cowboy Junkies - The Trinity Sessions

The Trinity Session is a 1988 album by Cowboy Junkies, their second album.

The album was recorded at Toronto, Ontario's Church of the Holy Trinity on November 27, 1987, with the band circled around a single microphone. The album includes a mixture of original material by the band and covers of classic pop, rock and country songs, including the band's most famous single, a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane", based on the early version found on 1969: The Velvet Underground Live, rather than the well-known studio version from Loaded. Also included is "Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)", which is both a cover and an original, combining a new song by the band with the pop standard "Blue Moon".

The album was released in early 1988 on Latent Records in Canada, and rereleased worldwide later in the year on RCA Records. "Working on a Building" and "Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)" did not appear on the Latent Records release. "Blue Moon Revisited" was originally released on It Came from Canada, Vol. 4, a compilation of Canadian independent bands.

In 2007, the band recorded a new 20th anniversary edition of the album, Trinity Revisited, with guest musicians Natalie Merchant, Vic Chesnutt and Ryan Adams.

According to the band's website , the direction of The Trinity Sessions was influenced by the sounds they heard while touring the southern United States in support of Whites Off Earth Now!!. The lyrics and instrumentation of the album were lifted from the classic country groups the band was exposed to, and the song "200 More Miles" was written in reference to their life on the road.

As they had on Whites, the band wanted to record live with one stereo microphone direct to tape. Peter Moore was enlisted and suggested the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto for its natural reverb. To better persuade the officials of the historic church, the band claimed to be The Timmins Family Singers and said they were recording a Christmas special for radio. The session began on the morning of November 27, 1987. The group first recorded the the songs with the fewest instruments and then the songs with gradually more complex arrangements. In this way Moore and the band were able to solve acoustic problems one by one. To better balance Margo Timmins's vocals against the electric guitars and drums, she was recorded through a PA system that had been left behind by a previous group. By making subtle changes in volume and placement relative to the microphone over six hours, Moore and the band had finally reached the distinctive sound of the album by the time the last of the guest musicians arrived at the church.

The band was unable to rehearse with most of the guest musicians before the day of the session. Considering the method of recording, this could have been disastrous for the numbers which required seven or more musicians, but after paying a security guard twenty five dollars for an extra two hours, the band was able to finish, and even recorded "Misguided Angel" in a single take.

Contrary to popular myth, the album was not entirely recorded in one day. In the hustle of the first recording session, the band had forgotten to record "Mining for Gold". Margo and Moore recorded the song a few days later during the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's lunch break.

All songs written by Margo Timmins and Michael Timmins unless otherwise indicated.

1. "Mining for Gold" (traditional) – 1:34

2. "Misguided Angel" – 4:58

3. "Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)" (Margo and Michael Timmins; "Blue Moon" by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart) – 4:31

4. "I Don't Get It" – 4:34

5. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (Hank Williams) – 5:24

6. "To Love is to Bury" – 4:47

7. "200 More Miles" (Michael Timmins) – 5:29

8. "Dreaming My Dreams with You" (Allen Reynolds) – 4:28

9. "Working on a Building" (traditional) – 3:48

10. "Sweet Jane" (Lou Reed) – 3:41

11. "Postcard Blues" (Michael Timmins) – 3:28

12. "Walkin' After Midnight" (Don Hecht, Alan Block) – 5:54

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