Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More RRHOF Stuff

Don't believe the 50% total that the Hall says an act needs to get in. The Hall doesn't induct everyone who gets 50% each year. That's just Press Release B.S. In fact the Hall looks over the final votes, and those acts that are close in votes are then looked at one last time before they decide if that act will get in. This is fact and although the Hall's members won't admit it, it's been known since its inception. Also, the Hall seems to have given up on its Early Influence category. I've got some names that still need to be looked at: Behind Your Hits

Monday, November 28, 2005

What Took Them So Long?

UK Music Hall of Fame It's only the 2nd year for this. A good idea, especially considering that some of these artists (Cliff Richard, Eurythmics, Robbie Williams) won't be getting inducted into the US RRHOF. I'm not sure about New Order, but I'd vote for them. It's a good idea, I mean a group like Oasis will eventually get in, but not in the US version. Big complaint: the Hall needs a website.

Musings on the Rock Hall's 2006 class

The Hall cleans out its closet. 11/28: AOL News: Rock Hall of Fame Announces Inductees Sabbath, Skynyrd, Sex Pistols all have been on the ballot for too long. Nice to get them off and see some new names on the ballot in 2006. I had a feeling Miles Davis would get in on his first try. Once again a RRHOF class without Gamble & Huff. But hey, Herb Alpert's in the Hall. It seems that the Hall wants to get in any one that owned a Record Company. That's no diss on A&M, but let's not forget songwriters as well. Good for Skynyrd. No comment on Sabbath. As for Blondie, I think there are stronger acts, but have no problem with them. I've heard some say this is a weak class considering that Mellencamp, Stooges and Chic are deserving. And some aren't happy that Grandmaster Flash got passed for the 2nd Rock Hall of Fame leaves rappers out of its new class Next year REM are eligible and will go in the first time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Best Book On Country Music-Is 21 Years Old

The best reference book written about Country Music was released in 1984 and never updated. The Best of Country Music by John Morthland was divided into chapters on Honky Tonk, Contemporary Country, Bluegrass, Early String Bands etc. It looked closely at Morthland's picks for the 100 best Country records, and then had brief capusle reviews of an artists other records. It was and still is indispensible. Even though Morthland has said he'll never update it. Which is too bad. Because of all the Country books I've come across none can beat it. Morthland still writes. For a long time I'd see he column in Texas Monthly, and he pops up in various other magazines. He also contributes to this site eMusic Magazine. But he's not the editor of the Country section, he covers Blues. Oh, well worth checking out. Morthland is an overlooked critic who should be mentioned with any of the top Music critics writing today.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Yes, That Roy Thomas Baker

The best thing about The Darkness' One Way Ticket isn't that it's a good album or that it beats their debut. No it's the album's Producer-Roy Thomas Baker. To most of the Darkness' fans that name may mean nothing. But it's time for them to Google it. Because when I saw Baker's name, I had flashbacks of the late 70's. Baker made a name for himself Producing Queen, The Cars, Cheap Trick and Journey's biggest 70's albums. But he disappeared after the 90's. And he's found the perfect comeback vehicle with the Darkness. Let's face it, while some hear the return of Hair Metal, I hear the return of late 70's Classic Rock. What Baker has done here is impressive. Keeping a band that has a reputation for excess down to a 35 minute CD is amazing. It's the best Classic Rock album of the year.

Country's Rick Springfield

After watching Keith Urban on the CMA's, I've come to the conclusion that he's Country's Rick Springfield. That's not a put down. There are many who like Springfield, me included. Both are Aussies, both write catchy songs, both play guitar and, oh yeah, both are good looking. It's that last one that Urban will have trouble winning over the "big" critics with. A Village Voice blurb the week of the CMA's wasn't very heartfelt, and most of his album's have gotten, decent but hesitant reviews. There's not much Urban can do about it. He's handsome and has hit singles. A guilty pleasure? At this point, he is. Yes in typical Nashville fashion his albums are full of filler, which means his future Greatest Hits album will be a winner, but the radio hits are ear-candy. Let's hope he doesn't fall into the trap that killed Springfield's career. The need to become a serious artiste. Springfield's hits dried up in a hurry after thinking he was a major thinker. Urban's Music City bosses will want hits, so a Country Rick Springfield might have a longer chart life than the "big" critics expect.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Year End Best Of Lists Coming

My 2005 Year End Lists for CD's/Singles/Reissues is pretty much done. In fact, it's been done since early November. Unless something comes along by December 1st, that I've completely missed out on then my Top picks in all 3 above categories will remain. Although on the CD side, I'm still wrestling with my #10 and #11 picks. Decisions, Decisions. But the post of this list will be made on 12/1.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Get On My Xmas List

Of all my list pages, I've gotten the most response from this Greatest Christmas Songs. A list that I'm actually quite proud of. I'll post this again at the beginning of December.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wray Cool Link Wray : Guitarist Link Wray Dies : NewsDuane Eddy was more popular and Dick Dale was a bigger cult artist, but among Rock and Rollers, Link Wray was the King of the Early Rock Era's Instrumentalists. There was more to his career than Movie's using "Rumble" in their Soundtracks. Rhino has a find one disc compilation still in print. And Wray always seems to be championed for the Rock Hall, but he's yet to be inducted or even nominated.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

How Madonna Copied Billy Joel

As a followup to the 2nd biggest album of his career, Glass Houses, Billy Joel in 1982 released Nylon Curtain, a concept album about the Cold War, Reaganomics, Vietnam and the usual relationship stuff. But the record got tagged as his "serious" one, and contained no smash singles. It got to #7 and Joel's "take me serious" phase was given a shrug by the public. As a followup to her highest charting record in 11 years, Madonna in 2003, right in the middle of the start of the Iraq War II, released American Girl, which included a serious title track/video but wasn't really that serious of a record at all. The record got tagged as Madonna's "serious" record and quickly disappeared. A year after Nylon Curtain, Joel put out Innocent Man, a return to his Pop hooks and smart craftsmanship. No deep-thinking here. Every song meant to sing-a-long with. The public ate up every single, and Joel was rewarded with a big hit. In 2005 Madonna released Confessions On A Dance Floor, a sing-a-long with collection of dance tracks that was dubbed a return to form (just like Joel's was). And she was rewarded with chart success. Madonna did a Billy Joel. And two Pop craftspeople were welcomed back into the bosom of the record buying public.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Playlist for 11/25

Cream - Live at Royal Albert Hall DVD
Garth Brooks - Lost Sessions
Stargard - Theme From "Which Way Is Up"
Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll
Pussycat Dolls - "Stickwitu"
Spin 20 Years of Alternative Music (book)
Alice Cooper - Killer

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sneaky Record Company Tricks

Nice to see this Sony halts anti-piracy software and this Suit targets Sony BMG anti-piracy technology. But I'm sure we haven't heard the last of sneaky Record Company tricks. By the way, if you have Musicmatch and have one of those anti-piracy CD's and need to burn it, try this: load the CD, hold the shift key until the CD loads in Musicmatch. It's worked for me, but not in Itunes, only in Musicmatch.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Family Reunion

When was the last time the Philly Sound got a good career overview? Tony Cummings' 1975 The Sound of Philadelphia. So, John A. Jackson's A House On Fire is a most welcome addition to the Soul Music Book catalog. A quick, breezy read at 261 pages, it tells the story of Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff and the overlooked Thom Bell's place in music history. That Philadelphia International Records was the Motown of the 70's is undeniable, but unlike that Company, PIR faded and then disappeared. Most of the blame in the book goes to Kenny Gamble, who let his politics creep into the music as each year passed (I remember PIR albums in the 70's and reading the love-one-another BS that Gamble would write in the liner notes). But regardless of how the label ended its rise was one to celebrate. The Philly catalog remains stellar, and the fact that the laggard's at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have yet to induct Gamble & Huff or Thom Bell for their achievement is enough to make you pause. ( I remember emailing Dave Marsh, who loves the PIR stuff and is a Nominating Committee member, asking him why haven't been inducted, and his response was that they've been "shortlisted" many times. I guess inducting fellow member Seymour Stein was more pressing.)

Mix Tape 11/12

Rosanne Cash - Very Best Of
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs
Robbie Williams - Intensive Care
Beastie Boys - Solid Gold
Madonna - Confessions On A Dance Floor
Boz Scaggs - "Love TKO"
Dave Van Ronk - Mayor Of MacDougal Street (book)

The Most Underrated Music Critic?

Chuck Eddy is the Village Voice music section's secret weapon. Now the site's Music Editor, he also has a weekly column Eddytor's Dozen that I hope he can keep going (weekly is not easy to find 10 CD's worth recommending). I wish he wrote more, but this column satisfies. Spotlighting mostly Indie groups he also shines a light on Country acts and Guilty Pleasure ones. Just this year, he's recommended compilations by REO Speedwagon and Rick Springfield. That's no surprise if you've read his Accidental Evolution of Rock'N'Roll book. It came out in 1997 and could use an update, but the book is essential if your recorded canon consists of Sports and Can't Slow Down. As for the Voice's legendary Robert Christgau his Consumer Guide column is always worth looking at, and his latest addition Recyclables will hold you over throughout the year until Christmas when he puts out my favorite of his Consumer Guide columns-the Christmas Best of's/Compilations.

Friday, November 11, 2005

ABKCO Gives You More Mashed Potatoes Than You Need

CD collector's waited forever for the Cameo/Parkway material to hit the CD market, and in 2005 they got their wish. A 4 CD box set kicked off the proceedings in the summer, and now 7 artists get their own Very Best of's. I've got 'em all and now am proud to rank them in order of likeability: Orlons, Bobby Rydell, Dee Dee Sharp, Chubby Checker, Dovells, ? & The Mysterians and the Tymes. Of all these, Rydell and Sharp are the eye-openers. The Orlons CD is the strongest from the start. ?'and the Tymes are good for half a CD. So, what's the problem with all of these CD's. How about each are 20+ songs long. None of these acts needs to go above 15. But we CD song collector's asked for it, and now ABKCO is giving it to us. But there may be hope. I have a feeling in a couple of years, ABKCO will release mini-versions of these hits (and I know a 20+ track sampler of the Box set will be coming soon).

The Soul Music You Won't Find On BET

Although Billboard has added a Adult R&B Chart, it's doubtless you'll find the Soul Music of your life on the regular R&B chart. But those old Soul artists didn't just retire. Most are still playing somewhere. I've noticed that the trend with the Old School singers is to release covers of Old School songs. Jeffrey Osborne, Patti Labelle and Freddie Jackson's latest are covers. For a good site about all this check out Soul Tracks - The Best In Classic Soul Music which has a lot of indie Soul stuff to look at and listen. It's bio page is good too, with the smarts to list Hall & Oates, Bee Gees and Simply Red. But where's Alexander O'Neal.

Playlist for 11/19

Big & Rich - Comin' To Your City
Sirius E Street Radio (24 Hours of Springsteen)
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run 25th Anniversary
Garth Brooks - "Good Ride Cowboy"
Miranda Lambert - "Kerosene"
John A. Jackson - House On Fire (book)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Old Times Never Seemed So New

When thinking of Neil Diamond's latest album, I can't help but think of a 1982 #27 single called "On The Way To The Sky." Good lyrics and over-the-top Production. I bet even Diamond's fans have forgotten about it. But the contrast of the what-might-have-been on that single plays itself out on Neil Diamond's Rick Rubin Produced CD.
Yes, it's pretty strange to see the rave's for Neil Diamond's 12 Songs. Rolling Stone and USA Today, although the New York Times wasn't as rapturous, it did give it a good notice. I'm not going to rock the boat. It's Diamond's strongest work in years. But it isn't any different than what he's been doing his whole career. Okay, there's nothing as cheesy as "Heartlight" or "Song Sung Blue" or "Headed for the Future", but tracks like "Oh Mary" and "Captain of A Shipwreck" wouldn't sound out of place on his early 70's albums when Diamond got tired of easy Pop hits and wanted to ride the new Singer-Songwriter wave. Hits like "Play Me" and "Stones"would fit on 12 Songs easily. And don't overlook the pairing of Robbie Robertson producing 1976's Beautiful Noise, which was also supposed to be a return of Neil the songwriter (the album holds up). The difference is that Rick Rubin has (for the most part) honed in Diamond's tendency for overwrought symphonic flourishes. As David Browne pointed out in his A rating rave in Entertainment Weekly, there's still a struggle here between Diamond and Rubin. And happily Rubin has won. Like Nigel Goodrich's Paul McCartney CD, this is carefully Produced. Unlike Rubin's Johnny Cash recordings there's no raggedness in Diamond's voice or Rubin's Production. Fans of the "Sweet Caroline" Diamond might find some of this ponderous. I doubt many of these will pepper one of his concerts. But by focusing on what he really does best, write good songs, Neil Diamond has indeed stepped into a time machine that has more to do with his Brill Building start than his Vegas finish.

Monday, November 07, 2005

24 Hours of The Cure?

Let's see, I get most of Sirius' music channels from Dish Network. And I get most of XM's music channels off of AOL. The only thing both don't give you are all the talk and news channels. But that's okay. If I had to tell you just one to buy, it would be Sirius. But mostly for the 3 channels devoted exclusively to Elvis, Rolling Stones and its latest, Bruce Springsteen. AOL radio also has plenty of these artist only channels (an all Yes one!). You may not think you need to listen to 24 hours of any artist, but as long as the stations program enough obscure album cuts and rarities, you'll listen. Especially if you're a fan.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Classic Country Voices Praise the Lord

Since Randy Travis' last secular album in 1999, he's been pumping out Contemporary Christian records. Glory Train is his 5th, and like the other 4 it hold its own. Travis' voice remains a modern Country miracle, so it's always good to hear a master stylist. Like Rod Stewart's Popular Song CD's, the concept may start to dry up. How many more religious songs will Travis have to find? On this one we get "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands". So I'm hoping he hasn't completely given up on the secular stuff that secures his place in Nashville lore. By the time Charlie Rich's religious Silver Linings came out in 1976, he was at the peak of his 70's chart-topping comeback. Out of print, and then in print, this CD is still in print. Rich fans and fans of good singing should scoop it up. It was Rich's last great CD and his voice is in prime shape. Good Religious music whether you're a believer or not.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Taking A Pass

Below are a list of artists that have released CD's in the last year. The artists I like, but what I've heard from the CD's left me wanting more. Each artists previous CD's I bought-this time I passed:
Sting, Sheryl Crow, Santana, Robert Cray, Liz Phair, Donnas, Faith Hill, Rick Springfield, Brooks & Dunn, Nickel Creek, Jackson Browne, Alicia Keys, Lucinda Williams. The last 3 are live albums.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mix Tape for 11/4

Tymes - Very Best Of
Bobby Rydell - Very Best of
Chubby Checker - Very Best of
? & The Mysterians - Very Best of
Dee Dee Sharp - Very Best of
Orlons - Very Best of
Dovells - Very Best of
Charlie Rich - Silver Linings
Montgomery Gentry - Best of
Now 20
Gary Allan - "Best I Ever Had"
Billy Currington - "Must Be Doin' Something Right"
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