Sunday, January 28, 2007

Norah Jones Should Meet Alison Krauss

Norah Jones has a new album out and it sounds just like her previous two, with a twist. She co-wrote all the songs and there's a few political references. But otherwise it's the same old Norah. But Jones' other side is revealed on side projects. She seems to scared to reveal her dance or rock sounds on her own proper albums. In a way Jones' career is similar to Alison Krauss. Krauss has managed to squeeze in to the Country Top 40 with a duet of "Missing You", John Waite's 80's icon song. Like Jones, Krauss' voice is often better than her material, and even more like Jones she shares a love for music she'll never record: AC/DC and the power rock of the mid-80's. Both seem content to satisfy their Record Companies when it comes time to market their own albums, but catch them on the side and their real devotion begins to shine.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Playlist for 1/27

Good, The Bad & The Queen
Slim Gaillard - Laughing In Rhythm
Shins - Wincing The Night Away
Sonny Rollins - Sonny Please
Specials s/t
Karen Dalton - In My Own Time
John Mellencamp - Freedom's Road

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Paring Down The House of Cash

Someday Johnny Cash will be afforded one of those 5 or 600 page bios that Elvis, Bing Crosby and Sam Cooke have gotten. Until then Michael Streissguth's economical 290 page Johnny Cash will do. Streissguth has written about Cash in two previous books, but never a bio. He knows and likes his subject, even though he spends too much time debunking Hollywood's treatment of Cash in Ring Of Fire. But the book really kicks in at the halfway point, when Streissguth dissects Cash's fall from the charts, pre-Rick Rubin. He's skeptical of those latter comeback recordings, but spot on when describing Cash's overlooked Mercury years. This is a slimline version of the Cash story. There will be more to come, but few will get there this effectively in so short a tome.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rock History Deaths From Opposite Ends

Both Denny Doherty and Pookie Hudson affect your record collection more than you know. And both died this week. The former was the best male voice of the Mamas & The Papas. Even though John Phillips wrote 'em, it was Doherty who put over the male vocals. As for Hudson, the lead voice of the Spaniels can count Aaron Neville and Smokey Robinson as fans. A most overlooked Doo-Wop group, but essential. If the Flamingo's can get in the RRHOF on the basis of one classic, then the Spaniels should get a look on their one classic.

Mellencamp Gets Away With It

John Mellencamp lost his core audience after 1989's somber Big Daddy. From then on, his albums were lacking the 4 minute diddy that always charted. And after that he got more serious and less fun. No more "Hurts So Good" for the classic rock crowd to fall back on. But that doesn't mean that all the stuff since '89 has been a waste. No he hasn't made a great studio album, but they're all good. And his 2003 covers set was excellent. So, 5 years after his last album of new stuff, comes Freedom's Road, and it won't win back the classic rock set either. But it does Rock more than any of his albums since 1991's Whenever We Wanted. The lead single, "Our Country" is of course the big sing-a-long, and while it riles Mellencamp's liberal fans, I find it harmless, but not essential. Those fans should check out the hidden track, "Rodeo Clown" which skewers Bush and Co. The rest of the album is a close look at America post 9/11, and features typical Mellencamp melodies that you hum while forgetting that the words question your patriotism. This has been Mellencamp's dilema since he broke big in 1981. A heartland rocker liked by the red states but who's not a conservative. Freedom's Road won't sell any better than 2001's Cuttin' Heads, but give it a chance and you'll see why Mellencamp's catalog is RRHOF and Songwriter Hall of Fame Worthy.

Playlist for 1/19

R.E.M. - Life's Rich Pageant
Rapture - Pieces of the People
Brecker Brothers - Very Best of
James Brown - Motherlode
James Brown - Payback
Jamiroquai - Singles
Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Playing With My Memories

The 2nd re-release of Al Green's 1975 LP, Greatest Hits, has just been put out under the title, Definitive Greatest Hits. The first re-release came out in 1995 with 5 bonus tracks upping the total to 15 songs. The 2007 version adds 6 more, making it 21 total. The 1975 LP was one of those definitive statement LP's that most artists never get. These are albums released at the height of an act's career, not at the decline.
Some other ones:
Elvis' Golden Records
Byrds Greatest Hits
Dolly Parton Best of (1975)
Sly & The Family Stone Greatest Hits
Carpenters Singles 69-73
Eagles 71-75
The last one has alternated with Thriller as the biggest selling album ever.
Those are ones I can think of at the top of my head, there are others.
The thing is that all went on to chart many more hits. And all released followup sets. But those above were pinnacle sets.
And the CD age has demanded that skimpy 10 song LP's be padded out with 20 song ones. The Elvis and Byrds ones were redone. The Carpenters, Dolly and Sly were left alone. Although the latter may be redone by this spring.
So, is the new Green better than the 1995 one? It's 6 new songs are okay, but none are definitive. Most sounded bettter on his 2CD set from a few years back. But the original 10 songs are still in there, conjuring up fine memories from buying the original LP in '75. And in the digital age, LP memories are all the above albums will have in common with the newer buffed up versions.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's Been Such A Long Time

Reading this post, I can't believe that there hasn't been a sidemen inducted since 2003 and an early influence since 2000. The latter category seems to be kaput, but the former should live awhile. And pouring of that list, does anybody else remember that Abba (2003) was once nominated and that Chuck Willis was too from 1986-1990. He was never nominated again nor inducted. Long live the RRHOF follies, for without 'em we wouldn't have space to fill on our blogs.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

How The Ronettes Made It

Trying to figure out how the Ronettes made the RRHOF first time on the ballot, I read He's A Rebel, Mark Ribowsky's bio of Phil Spector. First released in 1989, and now updated its a good read, but an even better one in figuring out Ronnie Spector's legacy. The Ronettes certainly made some classic records, but its Spector who emerges as a Tina Turner tragic figure. No, she wasn't physically abused by Spector, but she was psychologically. That coupled with the fact that of all the girl group singers Spector was the one most adored by Rock and Rollers. So, I can finally see why critics would grant her a first time nominee pass.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Jackin' Pop Ballot

Okay, forget what I posted last week about my missing Jackin' Pop Critics Poll 2006 Ballot - Idolator. After a few complaints its now up. View my ballot by clicking the above link.

Playlist for 1/12

Fats Waller - If You Got To Ask (box set)
Diana Krall - From This Moment On
ELO - Face The Music
Rod Stewart - Night On The Town
J. Geils Band - Freeze Frame

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Forgotten Sidemen, Non-Performers, Songwriters

The RRHOF has done away with its early influence category, and this year didn't induct anyone in the non-perfomer or sidemen category. Typical laziness on its part. My own page of theforgotten names for these categories has been updated for 2007.

Monday, January 08, 2007

As for 2008

Madonna will be inducted. I've listed Stevie Ray Vaughan for 2008, but I could be off a year. If he's eligible he'll be inducted. Also the Smiths are eligible.

Other Hall Thoughts

No non-performers, sidemen this year. I guess the laggards at the Hall have never heard of Gamble & Huff. Good for Patti Smith. As for the Ronettes, your guess is as good as mine.

Initial 2007 RRHOF Reaction

It kind of makes my stomach churn, to think that a career hack like Sammy Hagar can get in to the RRHOF before Iggy Pop.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Baby Steps

The first Jackin' Pop Critics Poll 2006 Results - Idolator is out a month before the Village Voice Pazz & Jop one. I was surprised to find that only half of the 1000 or so respondents voted. I voted in that poll and the Voice one. I suspect most people who got ballots had the same problem I did. Mine arrived later than most. I had to request a second ballot. So I was shocked to find that though my name is listed on the page of critic ballots, my own is blank. But I'm glad to find that I wasn't the only one with this problem. Anyway, first year bugs need to be worked out. And I'll vote in the 2007 poll.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Playlist 1/5

Womack & Womack - Love Wars
Sheila E. - Glamorous Life
Alberta Hunter - Amtrak Blues
Neil Diamond - Beautiful Noise
Ornette Coleman - Sound Grammar
Kinky Friedman - Best of
Klezmatics - Wonder Wheel
Tim Buckley - Best of
REM - Best of the IRS Years

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

James Brown Steals The Stage

When I first realized that there would be a National Day of Mourning for Gerald Ford, I thought, the heck with that. There should be one for James Brown. But watching portions of both funerals made me reconsider. Ford's somber service trotted out the worst players in our Political playbook. Ford was a 93 year old man who had been having health problems for years. Yet, there was no joy in his funeral. Like the man, it was polite but nonexistent.
James Brown's was a different animal altogether. Sure the usual Black funeral attendees were there: Jesse, Sharpton, but they were in good form. And Michael Jackson's quick speech didn't sound rehearsed but sincere. Throw in Hammer's dancing and Brown's music and you had not a snooze service but a winning tribute to a winning American.
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