Still upping her ranking as one of the greatest Americana singer/songwriters of all time with such recent albums as last year’s “The Ghosts of Highway 20,” Lucinda Williams has a knack for turning her First Avenue gigs into special occasions. Like that time she held her wedding on stage at Minneapolis’s landmark club after a performance in 2009 (it really doesn’t get more special than that!).
Turns out, her return engagement at First Ave this Friday is going to be a one-of-a-kind show, too. Williams and her well-heeled live band are going to perform her 1992 album “Sweet Old World” in its entirety as an exclusive treat for Twin Cities fans. Not only are they revisiting the album in concert to mark its 25th anniversary, they also just finished re-recording the entire LP for an upcoming release.
“Lucinda is thrilled with how it came out,” said her husband and manager, Tom Overby, a Minnesota native and former Best Buy music exec. Ironically, Overby first met his future wife at a listening party for “Sweet Old World” a few blocks from First Ave at Gluek’s in 1992. As he recalled it, “Our conversation went something like this: ‘Great record.’ ‘Thanks.’”
Williams was less-than-thrilled with the original version of the LP, though, which carried the follow-up pressure from her acclaimed 1988 eponymous collection for Rough Trade Records -- the record that first brought her to First Ave and 7th Street Entry on tour. The songs on "Sweet Old World" endure, including the tender ballad “Something About What Happens When We Talk,” the gritty rocker “Pineola” and the suicide-fighting title track (later covered by Emmylou Harris and heralded by Rolling Stone). However, the recording sessions behind it went through several different gestations in an attempt to Nashville-ize Lucinda, and the album ultimately suffered from slick production that sounds especially dated today (Austin guitarist Gurf Morlix’s rich contributions aside).
This time around, Williams’ live band did most of the work, along with accomplished lap-steel/slide guitar ace Greg Leisz, who’s played on probably a quarter of the albums you own. “Greg was very involved in the twisted tale of the original record but never ended up on the final version,” Overby explained. “He plays on everything here, so after 25 years he gets justice.”
The new version of the album won't be released until Sept. 29, but Williams and her band are more than ready to perform it Friday. The show will also include a set of other tunes. Tickets are $35 and available through eTix.