The Band's Rick Danko, Norwegian singer/songwriter and guitarist Jonas Fjeld and legendary singer/songwriter Eric Andersen made this seamless album of beautiful, earthy songs a winner of the Spellemans Pris, Norway's 'Grammy' Award. D/F/A brings together a trio of gifted singer/songwriters on both new material and favorites gathered from their extensive repertoires, including their version of Eric's classic "Blue River" sung by Rick Danko. |
Danko/Fjeld/Andersen is a collaboration in the
fullest sense of the word, with each musician bringing
high credentials as singer, songwriter, and solo
performer. Andersen has made 18 albums, and his
songs have been covered by a diverse bunch of
performers including the Grateful Dead, Fairport
Convention, Rick Nelson and Linda Ronstadt. Fjeld, a
major figure in his native Norway, has 12 albums to his
credit, ranging from acoustic solo performances to
full-scale electric excursions. In 1990 his collaboration
with poet Ole Paus earned him a gold record in
As rock critic Robert Palmer points out in the album's liner notes, this is no conventional collaboration. "These three friends and musical soul-mates have forged their disparate backgrounds into a shared vision. Like the best bands, they reach out to us with one voice, and with a depth of feeling that seems to well up from the heart."
When Danko, Fjeld and Andersen gathered for a small, impromptu gig in Woodstock in the fall of 1990, the members immediately realized that there "was magic in the air," recalls Andersen, and decided to do a short tour of Norway, Andersen's adopted home. The tour was so successful, they immediately followed it up with the recording of Danko/Fjeld/Andersen (for Norway's Stageway Records) which was awarded the prestigious Spellemans Pris) the following year.
Although the three multi-instrumentalists trade off lead vocal duties and songwriting credits throughout the album, each track captures a band performance rather than serving as a platform for individual talent. From the bluesy opening notes of "Driftin' Away" (penned by Andersen and Rick and Elizabeth Danko) to the rollicking good humor of the country & western rocker "One More Shot" (sung by Fjeld) to the pristine harmonies of the country-folk waltz "Mary I'm Comin' Back Home" to Danko's tender treatment of Andersen's classic "Blue River," there is a generosity of spirit and a love of American roots music reflected on each cut. The album is rounded out by two well-chosen cover songs, the late fifties New Orleans r&b classic "Sick and Tired" and Tom Paxton's "Last Thing on My Mind" featuring a stellar vocal performance by Andersen.
Danko's trademark "less is more" approach to playing and arranging enhances the entire production, and appropriately echoes the live intimacy of Danko and Andersen's "living room" shows. The album features guest performances by the likes of The Band's Garth Hudson (on "Blue River"), Norway's Knut Reiersrud on guitar and mandolin, Hallvard Bjorgum on Hardanger fiddle (a traditional Norwegian fiddle), and members of the Oslo Gospel Choir.
"In the sixties," Robert Palmer reminds us, "this combination of talents would have been called a 'supergroup.'" But here is no trace of the grandstanding and self-indulgence that one associates with that term. Drawing on a wealth of traditions and influences, from American rockabilly to Norwegian folk, Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld and Eric Andersen have both transcended and redefined "roots music."