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Loudon Wainwright III Taps Old Material For New Album

Of the Oakland Press

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Loudon Wainwright III says "Recovery" is the perfect title for his new album.

The set, produced by Rochester Adams grad (and Madonna's brother-in-law) Joe Henry, features newly recorded versions of 13 songs form Wainwright's first couple of albums, adding full-band arrangements to what were once austere renderings.

"When I was signed to Atlantic Records in the late '60s, they had seen me playing songs with just my guitar," recalls Wainwright, who first worked with Henry on "Strange Weirdos," the companion album to the hit film "Knocked Up." "They said, 'We're gonna put you together with some great musicians...'

"But it just didn't seem to work out. I was uncomfortable, I think; I was nervous, and these guys were killer musicians. So in the end I just decided on my first two albums, at least, to do them totally stripped-down, voice and guitar. But I always wondered, 'What if...?' "

The exercise, Wainwright notes, gave him new insight into himself as a songwriter -- both then and now.

"The first thing I noticed as we were going along was that when I was 25 I was obsessed with getting old," says Wainwright, whose next project will be a tribute to old tyme [cq] banjoist and North Carolina Ramblers leader Charlie Poole. "Now I'm 62. There's not much new under the sun. I haven't changed that much, although physically and vocally I have.

"But a lot of my concerns haven't changed -- and a big one is mortality. I guess we can call that a theme throughout my career."

Loudon Wainwright III performs at 8 p.m. Friday (Sept. 26) at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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