k.d. lang's first major-label album (and debut American release) was a bit of a switch from the polished retro-country of her best-known work; with Dave Edmunds in the producer's chair, Angel with a Lariat often sounds more like rockabilly or roots rock than classic C&W, with a big, snappy drum sound, plenty of guitars mixed upfront, and lots of slapback of lang's vocals (a production decision lang mentioned with little enthusiasm several years after the album came out). "Turn Me Around" and "High Time for a Detour" rock significantly harder than most of lang's body of work, and "Watch Your Step Polka," "Diet of Strange Places," and "Tune Into My Wave" find lang and her band (who are in fine form throughout) indulging her sly sense of humor, which tended to get lost in the shuffle on later albums such as Ingénue.
A fantastically hip performance from trumpeter Kenny Dorham – a never-heard live set, recorded for radio at a time when he was really stretching out! The group is as compelling as the performance – and features the excellent Sonny Red on alto, hitting some of those incredibly edgey notes he'd play with Donald Byrd – plus a young Cedar Walton on piano, John Ore on bass, and Hugh Walker on drums – the latter an overlooked genius on the kit, who gave us some great work with John Patton and Harold Mabern! This group is featured in a 1966 performance that takes up most of the CD – with long performances of the titles "Jung Fu", "Spring Is Here", "Somewhere In The Night", "Straight Ahead", and "The Shadow Of Your Smile" – with a few interview snippets by announcer Alan Grant. Grant also presents the remaining three tracks on the set – material from a 1962 date that is equally great, but also shows just how much Dorham had evolved in the four years that led up to the later recording. Kenny blows trumpet with Joe Farrell on tenor, Walter Bishop Jr on piano, Larry Gales on bass, and Stu Martin on drums – on "Woody N You", "If I Should Lose You", and an incomplete performance of "Au Privave".