is the debut album by The Textones
, released in 1984
(born July 3, 1952) is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, performer and record producer. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Olson moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1978 where she formed the Textones
, whose debut album Midnight Mission
entered the Billboard 200. Olson has received critical acclaim for her work as a solo performer, band leader, and producer. She has worked with Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, Percy Sledge (Sledge has recorded five songs that Olson has written or co-written), Ry Cooder, Gene Clark, Don Henley, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, John Fogerty.
Olson also appeared in Bob Dylan
's first video (for the 1983 song "Sweetheart Like You"). To return the favor, Dylan gave Olson his previously-unreleased song "Clean Cut Kid" which she recorded on Midnight Mission. Ry Cooder
played slide guitar on the track.
The Textones were one of the better bands to rise from the Los Angeles club scene in the late '70s and early '80s, but they were held back by what, paradoxically, was one of their most admirable qualities -- they were awfully hard to pigeonhole. The Textones were too beholden to rock tradition to fit in with the town's new wave scene, and too polished and poised for the speedy punk crowd; it's significant that original guitarist Kathy Valentine, a bit out of place in the Textones, would fare much better as a member of the Go-Go's. But they also sounded too lean and wiry to sit comfortably next to L.A.'s aging rock royalty, and leader Carla Olson's widely acknowledged enthusiasm for less celebrated rock heroes like Gene Clark and Mick Taylor (both of whom would eventually collaborate with her) made her seem too idiosyncratic for the mainstream audience.
Add in some fervent leftist populism and an instrumental approach that sounded like an efficient, intelligent variant on heartland rock (complete with saxophone in the Springsteen manner by Tom Junior Morgan), and you get a group that could move a crowd without conveniently fitting any one particular demographic.
The Textones' first full-length album, 1984's Midnight Mission, is also their best, the most effective blend of Carla Olson's impassioned vocals and principled songs with her bandmates' sleek but muscular attack that embraced folk rock and roots rock while adding a tuneful veneer that could have rocked the arenas if they'd had the right breaks. With the exception of the Bob Dylan cover "Clean Cut Kid," Olson penned the best songs on Midnight Mission, and her jangly guitar work meshed well with George Callins' chunkier sound, and Phil Seymour not only was a solid drummer and half of a fine rhythm section with bassist Joe Read, he was a superb harmony vocalist with Olson.
A fine example of how the concision of the new wave helped inform other rock styles as well, Midnight Mission was also the album that made Carla Olson one of the cult heroines of the L.A. roots rock scene, and she's rarely merged form and content as well as she did on this album.
A roots rock pioneer, Carla Olson
is a highly regarded singer/songwriter, guitarist, and producer who has been at the forefront of the rock and Americana scene for over 30 years. Olson first emerged in the late 1970s with her band the Textones
, playing a mix of blues, country, and old-school rock & roll. Marked by her soulfully weathered vocals and twangy guitar chops, she earned a cult following with the Textones' 1984 debut, Midnight Mission
. She also garnered respect from the folk-rockers who preceded her, including the Byrds' singer/songwriter Gene Clark.
Olson was introduced to music at age five by her father, a classical pianist. Having started out on piano, by age 13 she had switched to acoustic guitar and spent hours learning how to play along with records by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Everly Brothers, the Rolling Stones, and the Byrds. By 1967 she had sold her acoustic guitar to buy an electric one and began playing in local bands. It was during this period that she befriended local musician Don Henley
In 1977, she formed the punk outfit the Violators with future Go-Go's
guitarist Kathy Valentine. After a year, Olson and Valentine moved to Los Angeles, where they formed the seminal roots rock band the Textones.
The Textones signed with A&M and released their influential 1984 debut album, Midnight Mission
, produced by Barry Goldberg. Prior to the album's recording, Olson had befriended former Byrds
singer Gene Clark. Subsequently, Clark and hometown friend Don Henley sang backing vocals on the album, which also featured slide guitar contributions from Ry Cooder.