Clinch Mountain Echo

Todd Novak & The Clinch Mountain Boys - Raspberry Moonshine

(Tres Payasos 007) 2011

Fiddlin Country Style
Rear Cover Inner Digipak Todd Novak and Ralph Stanley Steve Sparkman
Jimmy Cameron James Alan Shelton Rasberry Moonshine Band

Average Album Rating: 3
(Total votes 2)

  • 5 star
  • 4 star
  • 3 star
  • 2 star
  • 1 star

Please rate this album:

Todd Novak, is perhaps best known for alt-country band The Cowlicks, and about half of the tracks here are re-workings of his songs from earlier Cowlicks albums:- e.g. The Number on 'CWA' (Cowboys With Attitude) from 2004; I'll Still Love You, She's A Tease and I Love It When It Rains on 'Psychedelic Service Station' 2006; and The Legend Of The Great Manjo & It's A Long Road on 'Hey Hey We're The Cowlicks' in 2009.

Backed mostly by the Clinch Mountain Boys, the results are pretty crazy, provided you're open to the idea of mixing in Byrds style vocal harmonies, drums, and ukelele with the usual Clinch Mountain sound. Backing is provided by Steve Sparkman, Dewey Brown and James Alan Shelton, with Ralph himself making a couple of appearances too. The songs are catchy, some are quite sentimental, and others just plain ridiculous fun...

Take for example, The Legend Of The Great Manjo which tells the tale of a half-man / half banjo creature, that turns out to be a crap super-hero:-

"If you really really care, lend an ear and I'll share, a legend from long ago
About a terrible accident, that happened to a man, that we now know as Great Manjo
One day he was working, as a foreman on the line, at the banjo factory
When he fell into a chemical vat of radio-activity..."

"Half a banjo, half a man, five pegs with a tan
First time that we saw him, everybody ran
So often seen of and heard now he's living in the redwood trees
Straw hat, high boots, there's a resonator on his leg
And out on his side there's a fifth string peg
High and lonesome, he'll go down in history..."

"So know you now the story and fate of the legend of the Great Manjo
You'd better take care, stay clear of the moors, when you hear howlin 'JD' crow
He's playing 'Old Joe Clark', while scratching out some fleas, and streaking through the redwood trees
That Foggy Mountain Breakdown, howlin at the moon, while crawling on his palms and knees"

"Look at him where he go [MANJO]
Streaking through the old corn rows [MANJO]
Hoping it'll come to blows with the legendary Great Manjo"

"He's got finger picks instead of nails [MANJO]
Streaking through the old hay bales [MANJO]
When it comes to fightin crime he fails, it's the legend of the great Manjo..."

On that and a couple of the other tracks, the vocals are hard to discern in places, so I may not have got the lyrics quite right... At the end of the song, amid a cacophany of howling, Dr. Ralph shouts out: "Boy, what is that thing goin' yonder?"

Ralph also shares lead vocals on It's A Long Road, singing alternate lines with Todd, on a song which seems to be about relationships between fathers & sons...

The album is available as a digital download from a few outlets inc. Todd also has website for further info, which is where I've nicked the session photo's from:

There is also a cover version of Prince's Purple Rain that never made it to the album on Vimeo, featuring a collage of old video clips.[1] I wonder whether it got left off, because they couldn't get clearance from Prince's music publishers, or because Todd decided to only have originals on the album?

PS: Todd recently kindly got in touch & told us that the album came about following a private gig at a ranch owned by one of Ralph's cousins in Vacaville, California. The cousin was a fan of The Cowlicks and arranged for them and the CMB's to share the bill at Ralph's 80th birthday party. The album title came about from a "ball jar" of the same which they gave to Todd at the first session at Big Stone Gap Va.! Also one cut from the album, Cherokee Lake, was also used in a commercial for Rip Curl 'Mirage Slicer' surfing shorts, much to the amusement of all concerned. You can find it here on youtube....

A follow-up 'Christmas' project with the CMB's was in the planning stages, when James Alan Shelton got cancer in 2014, and obviously didn't come to fruition.

(*) Ralph - last line of The Great Manjo and sings on It's A Long Road
(**) Ralph II - guitar on Manjo
(+) on Manjo and It's A Long Road

Raspberry Moonshine

Todd Novak
I'll Still Love You

Todd Novak
She's A Tease

Todd Novak
Roosevelt's Train

David 'Rebb' Firman
The Legend Of The Great Manjo

Todd Novak
The Number

Todd Novak
Cherokee Lake

Todd Novak
I Love It When It Rains

Todd Novak
It's A Long Road

Todd Novak
Ohio River Angel

Todd Novak
Dancin' Square

Todd Novak
Rabbit Dog

Todd Novak

Go To Top Of Page [1] Mostly from the 'Bluegrass Roots - Music Makers Of The Blue Ridge' US TV Documentary featuring Bascom Lamar Lunsford, and John Cohen's 'The High Lonesome Sound' films.