Acoustic Sounds

Terry Evans

Puttin’ It Down



Label: AudioQuest Music

Produced By: Joe Harley

Engineered By: Michael C. Ross

Mastered By: Bernie Grundman

Lacquers Cut By: Bernie Grundman

By: Michael Fremer

September 16th, 2022





Originally Seen In:


AudioQuest Music Releases Terry Evans' 'Puttin' It Down'

From the archives: a highly recommended, all-analog blues LP from AudioQuest Music

(This review originally appeared in Issue 5/6, Winter 1995/96.)

I thought Pop Staples’ version of J.B. Lenoir’s “Down In Mississippi” (Pointblank/Charisma 92147-2) was powerful—and it was, but the version Terry Evans puts down here shakes the firmament. As I write this, two neo-Nazi idiots—soldiers from Fort Bragg, NC—have just been arrested for cold-blooded murdering a Black couple walking down the street in their own neighborhood (not that it would have mattered where they were walking).

And a few days ago stoked by a protest at a Jewish-owned clothing store in Harlem, a Black “community activist” ran in, shot three white workers and firebombed the store. Seven died, including a Black security guard and four Hispanic women who were there shopping. For days, shouts of “kill the bloodsucking Jews” were heard in front of the store, but no one did anything.

So if you think what Evans is railing about in “Down In Mississippi” is history, forget it: it’s alive and well in 1995 America. Healthier than in a long time. What Evans, Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner, Jorge Calderon and the others lay out on the tune spews violence and drips blood. Cooder produces the kind of punishing, desolate, shimmering lines he bared on the Paris, Texas soundtrack: cruel, unforgiving, and right on the money. It’s a movie of a song.

Most of the other tunes are Evans originals: rhythmic, angular, slinky, riffing shuffles which will keep your body moving through two sides of some of the juiciest playing you’ll hear anywhere—almost all of which was recorded live to two-track analog (a few tracks feature overdubs).

There’s a Memphis, Hi-Records Willie Mitchell feel on some tracks—rhythm driven affairs where what Evans sings is not nearly as important as how he sings it, the accents his gruff, soulful voice puts on the beats. 

The arrangements are intriguing: on “Too Many Ups And Downs”—a hard times, get up off the floor exhortation, basically a vamp without melody—Evans’ gritty, percussive singing is balanced by George Bohanon’s long trombone lines and Cooder’s liquid guitar harmonizing. The combination yields colorful fireworks.

Evans has long been a background singer for Cooder and others. Stepping to the front position and holding ground is a much different skill, one which Evans struggles with on occasion in this set—not that you hear it per se, it’s just that, despite the best intentions of the other musicians who are trying to back Evans and drive his energy forward, the focus sometimes shifts from what he’s doing to what they are doing, which shouldn’t really happen.

That won’t detract from your enjoyment of this stunning record, both because most of the time Evans maintains control over the proceedings (check out his seamless break to falsetto and back followed by a laugh on “In This Day And Time”), and because what the backing band is doing is so damn exciting and concisely rendered. Plus the recording is stupendous—especially the vinyl.

This is a big sounding record, with superb articulation of very deep bass, precise, three dimensional imaging and a very large, airy studio soundstage. Keltner’s drums have tremendous punch, while the more subtle kit played by Phil Bloch has shimmer and grace. Bohanon’s trombone sounds absolutely real with plenty of brass, air and bite, and Cooder’s tubey sounding tremolo-drenched guitar is wet, warm and wonderfully focused. The live mix is about perfect.

While Evans’ performance is understated, and if you don’t pay attention, you’ll get sucked in by the band, ultimately he wins out, a conclusion you’ll come to after repeated plays.

Highly recommended. AudioQuest’s finest sounding recording yet, though I come to find Doug MacLeod’s mighty close. Two worthy songs on the CD had to be cut for the LP, but do yourself and favor and buy the all-analog vinyl which sounds much better, though the CD ain’t too shabby either.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: AQ-LP 1038


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: Analog Master Tape

Presentation: Single LP