Mike Compton picks Rotten Taters

It has been five years since Mike Compton released an album: the Acoustic Disc release Stomp, with David Long. Otherwise nothing; not even work as a session player.

Some friendly persuasion from Australians Paul Duff and Mick O’Neill, who both thought that it would be a good idea if Compton had an album to sell during his bi-annual tours of Australia led to him recording Rotten Taters. So, arm twisted, this past spring while Down Under, Compton went into the Shanghai Twang studio in Perth and recorded a mixture of his own compositions and traditional pieces for an album of solo mandolin, Rotten Taters.

“The fellow that engineered the recording, Peter Grandison, is a friend of Paul and Mick, an ex band mate” Compton said by way of explaining that all the pieces fell into place quite naturally.

Compton has been a prolific writer of tunes during the past 20 years, “The original tunes were written from the early 1990s until now. I picked them out of the lot. There are more.”

Faced with a dossier of material, for Compton it, “was simply a matter of picking out songs that I thought I could do reasonably well, especially considering I had not practiced some of the material in a while. Well okay, most of it,” he said with a laugh.

Also, “I decided I wouldn’t do a duplicate of all the material I had been doing Down Under, but do some others that I like. I …. looked for a balance of songs and instrumentals that would spread out over a range of feels and tempos and keys so that the recording wouldn’t sound all the same.”

As can be seen from the track listing below, Compton decided to use a variety of mandolin tunings,

“The cross-tunings were meant to achieve two things; to find open tunings for the vocals so that I could play more open chord sounding backup to myself and, to find more satisfying voicings for the instrumentals. Standard tuning just didn’t work as well for some of the tunes to my ear.”

Rotten Taters features 15 tracks ….

  • From One To Twelve (Traditional)
  • Forever Has Come To An End (Buddy & Julie Miller) Cross Tuning G# D# A# D#
  • Hallie’s Hornpipe (Mike Compton) Cross tuning D A D A
  • Dust And Ashes/He Rose From The Dead (Traditional)
  • Post Oak Grove (Mike Compton) Cross tuning G G D G
  • I’ll Tell You About The Women (Unknown)
  • Rotten Taters (Mike Compton) Cross Tuning G# E B E
  • Wood Butcher’s Walkabout (Mike Compton)
  • Yankee Gal (Mike Compton)
  • Midnight Hour Blues (Unknown)
  • Torment Of Billie (Mike Compton) Cross Tuning A E A E
  • Jimmy Fell Off The Wagon (Mike Compton)
  • How You Want Your Rollin’ Done (Traditional)
  • Dear Honey (Traditional) Cross Tuning G# D# A# E
  • Jenny Lynn (Traditional) Cross Tuning A E A E

The album can be ordered from Compton through Mandolin Cafe.

Having sold his first consignment in a little over 24 hours, Compton has to order a further supply. So, potential customers will have to be patient before they can acquire a copy. We’ll keep you informed.


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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.