Saturday, December 31, 2005

I Still Love Tom T. Hall

Oh by the way, if you're looking for an import bargain, check out England's Hux Label reissue of Tom T. Hall's In Search Of A Song/The Rhymer and Other Five and Dimers. A 2 for 1 that can be had for $20. The former is an essential 1971 classic that is out on the U.S. Hip-O Select label. But the packaging is cheap and the sound mediocre. The latter is a 1973 followup that's almost as good. These were Hall's peak years. Let's hope more are coming.

Chitlin' Soul Without the Grease

I remember reading a review of Johnny Cash's first American Recordings CD by Robert Christgau, and he found it to be a tough listen. Too careful, if you will. That's the way I feel about Bettyle Lavette's I've Got My Own Hell To Raise. A journeywoman, Lavette, still has that 60's gritty soul voice that I love. Her latest album has 10 songs written by woman, and the songs are good. But the production, by Joe Henry who also did the Solomon Burke comeback that I really didn't like, is too clean. Your better off with Lavette's previous release. I'm not saying that the album isn't good. It's worth a listen for Lavette's passion. But I want more sweat next time.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Year End Magazine Polls, cont.

In keeping with my look at year end polls from sources not including Rolling Stone or Spin or Blender, I give you the Indie Rock Magnet: No surprises here either: #1 Sleater Kinney. Also listed Sufjan, Spoon and New Pornographers. Pretty much what you'd expect. Although I like the list that has CD's you may have missed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Playlist 1/2/06

Robbie Fulks - Georgia Hard
Bettye Lavette - I've Got My Own Hell
Gogol Bordell -Gypsy Punks
Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah
No New York
Our New Orleans
Tom T. Hall - In Search Of A Song/Rhymer and Other Five and Dimers (Hux Records Import)
Ricky Gervais Show Podcast

Alt/Country Magazine Loves R&B!!

If you're looking for a different take on year end polls, check out the Jan./Feb. issue of No Depression. What's #1? Why it's Ry Cooder's latest, which I have no interest in hearing. Also on the ND Top 40, Bettye Lavette, Lizz Wright and Kanye West, which means that its critics are listening to more than Alt/Country records. Although No Depression changed it's title moniker to include all types of music, it's latest issue is still top heavy with Country music styled stuff: A good John Morthland article on Bobby Bare (who like Tom T. Hall has been forgotten by Music City historians). Anyway, check out the issue. Just reading it made me order the Lavette, Robbie Fulks and Gogol Bordello (who gets a mention in the poll essays).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Anybody Read Russian

You would think that some American reissue label could've done No New York, the landmark 1978 album that was originally on Antilles. But I didn't realize that the 2005 redone was by a Russian label, Lilith. The liner notes are in Russian, but the lyrics are in English. Too bad, maybe somebody can email me the liners.

Still Rooting for "Alcohol"

Okay, it won't take much of a genius to figure out that Kanye West will top the 2005 Pazz & Jop Poll. I'd bet good money on it. But I'll be curious to see who'll be #2: M.I.A.? That's my prediction. As for singles, I'll say West again. But I hope "Alcohol" sneaks in the Top 10.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Yes, Corporate Radio Still Sucks

So I spend a holiday road trip tuning in my Ipod and skimming radio stations to see if corporate radio still sucks. And it does. I did hear a KPIG style show somewhere near Sacramento, but everything else was lame. That includes the new "Jack" format that's supposed to be like the shuffle play on your Ipod. But I still find it too scripted to care about.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Elvis Turns A Little Bit More

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sony Suits Strike Singer

This is one album I'm definitely looking forward to hearing. But when will the suits at Sony learn. Singer McKay leaves Sony in album dispute. She's better off on an Indie anyway.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Upcoming Dead Months

In the past January and February used to be the dead months for buying new CD's. Basically, those were good months to catch up on things you missed in the previous year(s). But in 2005 some of my favorite CD's came out in those months (Bright Eyes, Low). Indie labels are trying to get a jump on the majors by releasing stuff early on. This year I've got high hopes for the new Nelly McKay and Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), and hopefully some Indie bands will also follow suit.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

They're Good, Trust Me

Some albums slip through the cracks. I've now read Spin, Rolling Stone, Blender and Mojo's year end lists and no sign of 2 of my Top 10's: Pernice Brothers and Clem Snide. They may have been too low key, but they're good. It'll be interesting to see if anyone else votes for them on the 2005 Pazz & Jop.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Will Anyone Miss Robert Hilburn?

Hilburn to hang up his earplugs * Just where does the LA Times' Robert Hilburn rank in the pantheon of Rock Critics. While most of the big names: Christgau, Marsh and Marcus (who later worked from the West Coast) worked out of the East Coast, Hilburn stuck to the left coast. One reason Hilburn doesn't rank with the above names is all he did was write for the Times. With no books to his name, you never got the sense of his musical knowledge the way you would from a Greil Marcus or a Robert Christgau. And while its admirable that he gave good reviews to latter day work by Elton John and Neil Diamond, when every other critic wouldn't pay them attention, most of his favorites were too predictable: U2, Springsteen popped up way too much. The guy never had a guilty pleasure he could plug. I still cringe at his dissing of Cher's "Believe". Hilburn is a member of the RRHOF's nominating committee, but what influence he has at their annual get-together's isn't known. Maybe with impending book deals coming, we'll get to know the extent of Hilburn's musical mind. But his place in the Rock Critic's Hall of Fame? Let's just say he won't get in on the first ballot.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Jann Wenner strikes again

Good old Rolling Stone. There year end magazine arrived, and who would be #2 on the Top 50 CD's of the year: why the the Rolling Stones. Well, it is Jann Wenner's magazine. But that doesn't mean we can't have a good laugh at its expense every once in a while. There aren't many surprises on the list (Kanye is #1), and my #1 by the Hold Steady is Top 30. The only list in the magazine worth noting is the Country single Top 10 which includes great songs by Brad Paisley, Gary Allen, Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban.

Playlist for 12/23

Shakira - Oral Fixation Vol. 2
Faith Hill - "Like We Never Loved At All"
Forever Young : Photographs of Bob Dylan (Da Capo) Unpublished pics of 1964 era Dylan, before he changed his look and music. Text by Dave Marsh. A good collector's item

Bon Jovi - "Have A Nice Day"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

She Keeps On Playing Those Mind Games

On the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death, the best article I read was in Newsweek. I'd link it, but you have to give them a whole bunch of info to access their archives. Let's just say that the best part of it was how Yoko continues to get under McCartney's skin. With digs at his love songs, and vetoing any attempt by Paul to gain ground on Ono's control of the Lennon legacy as related to the Beatles. Let me also say for the record that I marvel at any sane critic who says that Ono has any musical talent. This bit of revisionism gone mad came to light after Lennon's death. How many of you skipped her awful songs on Double Fantasy to get to Lennon's. And as someone who doesn't think that Lennon's solo work was any greater than Paul's (even at the time of his death), just seeing Ono pop up on TV every few years to remind us who broke up the Beatles, is enough to make one queasy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wanted: Another Genius Comic

There was never a mean streak in Richard Pryor's comedy. There could've been. His tough upbringing should've made him angry at everyone. But Pryor managed to stick with what he did best, command the stage where he put on his best acting performances, even though you knew that there was more to him than sex jokes. The road to being the greatest Stand Up Comedian started early. Look at him on those 1960's TV shows and you can see him wanting to shed the do-gooder shoes he had on. He would never come across as Bill Cosby. But his "Mudbone" is a better look at Old Black Men than anything the Cos came up with. He was too street, too edgy for that. His skit on his trip to Africa in the late 70's should be required hearing for today's Black youth. And his routine's about White people were the blueprint for everything that Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock later came up with.

Almost Legit

I honestly don't download much on Itunes. Most of the stuff on my 2 Ipod's come from my own CD collection. But, every once in a while, I'll download a song, just because I know the album won't hold up. And the one album I have downloaded-Television's Live at the Old Warholf, comes from a Rhino Handmade that was out of print. So, I spent $10 and got a good album. But getting no liner notes bugs me. But what really bugs me are artists who continue to boycott the legit Download sites. A quick check through Itunes finds no AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Metallica and Garth Brooks. I also noticed that there's only 5 Bad Company songs from the Paul Rodgers era. Until these and some other acts give up their catalog, I'll continue to support free download sites. All of the above are mega-millionaires, so they don't need any extra cash. But why fight it? Most of those acts are holding out for a good Itunes contract, and will someday do as Madonna did in 2005 and go legit. But until they do, feel free to share their songs for free. By not satisfying the consumer, they asking for people to "steal" their songs.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Whatever Happened to Box Sets?

Each Christmas season would always bring an interesting Box Set or two worth purchasing. But 2005 seems like a lame year for these overpriced monsters. And is it just me or are the "big" name titles just repeats: (Johnny Cash, without the Rick Rubin stuff, Ray Charles, Talking Heads, Ramones, The Band). The Billy Joel box might be worth taking, but I don't like the tracklist. Still, I'd give it as a present to all those who don't think that Joel belongs in the RRHOF. Rhino's Girl Group Box is a good idea, but includes none of the Phil Spector girl groups. So, you're best bet are some of the 2CD sets that are now taking over the market. I'd go with the Dire Straits, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard, and some of the Gold titles like Cat Stevens and Rick James. But as for Box Sets, save your money and let's hope the labels get more creative in 2006.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bring Back Andy Williams

48th Annual Nominees . I don't know about you, but don't you miss the days when the Grammy's were staid and boring. Oh, the controversy! Now, we get committee's overlooking the Record and Album of the Year Nominees. How boring. Music critic's don't have anything to get worked up about during Grammy time, anymore. Tony Bennett Unplugged Album of the Year? Christopher Cross sweeping the Grammy's? Kelsey Grammer, your host for the night? That was then. Actually, the biggest surprise in this year's Album category is that there's no Coldplay. But I don't see any head-scratchers. Let's petition the Grammy's to bring back Andy Williams to host.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Playlist for 12/9

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prisom - Michael Streissguth (book)
Eminem - Stan (live with Elton John)
Sara Evans - Real Fine Place To Start
Ringside - "Struggle"
Shakira - "Don't Bother"

Repeating Myself

Okay, my last post of the Holiday season of this Greatest Christmas Songs (list by me)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

How Dido Made Eminem A Critic's Pet

In celebration of Eminem's Greatest Hits CD, I'll reveal the one thing that I've noticed about him: he doesn't smile a whole bunch. His is the eternal scowl. Not that Eminem has never laughed at anything. He's made a fortune laughing at other people. You see his biggest hits all took swipes at easy Celebrity targets. Take a look at these names: Christina Aguilera, Moby, Michael Jackson, Nsync. Oh, and I forgot to mention his homophobia and misogny. But then so have some of the biggest named critics (Christgau, Marcus, Marsh) and all the rest of the Music Press that has patted him on the back for his greatness: Rolling Stone, Spin, etc. These people and magazines have assured Eminem's place in Musical history has been assured. I can't wait to see who will induct him in the Rock Hall. But I think he's as big fraud. His recorded career comes down to easy potshots. Only once on his best song, "Stan" did Eminem finally reveal some talent. But even that song was taken over the top by a Dido sample. 8 Mile was watchable, no doubt. Better than that horrible 50 Cent movie. But I find the mildly entertaining "Lose Yourself" to be an annoyance ever since Greil Marcus praised it as the second coming of a Sun Records single. Eminem says that he's "retiring" from recording. And those of us who find him a pest would be happy if he kept his word. Maybe he realizes that he's run out of easy targets. Or maybe he's waiting for the next best Dido song to sample.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Playlist for 12/2

Keith Urban -"Better Days"
Darkness - One Way Ticket
Television - Live at the Old Warhof
Bob Spitz - Beatles (this book is strong on early bio material)
Charlie Gillett - Sound of the City (book)
Brooks & Dunn- Believe
Alanis Morissette - Crazy
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