Sunday, April 30, 2006

Not Mirror Ball 2

So, who's more preachy? Neil Young or Eddie Vedder? This crossed my mind listening to both of their new albums. Young's Living With War is his much publicized broadside at the Bush Adminstration. Recorded quickly, it sounds like it. But remember, Young used to pop albums out at this pace back in the 70's/80's. I've heard complaints that the lyrics are sometimes amateurish. But that 's what makes it work. This is protest music like major sellers don't make anymore. Get it off you mind. And get it to the masses. It's the folkie in Young. But the music rocks harder than anything he's done since Ragged Glory. Yeah, there's irony in the same week release of both a Neil Young and Pearl Jam album. Remember Mirror Ball? Okay, no more about that. The last album I bought by Pearl Jam? Discounting the compilation, it was 1998's Yield. And judging by sales, it was the last album most people bought. Not much has gotten Eddie Vedder to raise his game in the last 8 years. The stuff I've heard since has sounded mild, as if Vedder was in a batting slump. Not even the elections of 2000 and 2004 could wake him. But wait. Suddenly in 2006, he's woken up. Pearl Jam is their best since Yield, and surprise, it's not all political. A father, marriage and just getting older has made Vedder lighten up and stop sounding smug. And the band, which has never moved me, rolls in all the right places. But I still wonder. Will it be another 8 years before they move me again.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Still Shorting New Orleans

Rick Coleman's Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'N' Roll (Da Capo), is a good but not great look at the hisory of New Orleans music and the life of Fats Domino. What keeps it from being essential is that Coleman never gets in to the music of Domino or New Orleans the way a Greil Marcus does in his books. Coleman also spends too much time placing Domino above or on an equal par with Elvis Presley. Obsessed was my thought. Domino's music was as timeless as Elvis, but Elvis was on another planet. White man or not, Elvis had the moment. My thoughts about Coleman's weak look at Domino's music was heightened by a lack of a discography. The book is best when it looks at the history of New Orleans. A good, but not essential book.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Who's Selling Out Now?

Remember back in the late 80's when Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood hawked their latest songs via Beer commercials? I remember artists blasting both for "selling out". Two of the most prominent were Neil Young and John Mellencamp. It's wrong, they said to give in to the man like that. They would never. Well, one day a car commercial comes on and buried in the background is "Now More Than Ever" by Mellencamp. This caught my ear more than the car caught my eye. I figured he was donating all the money from this ad to Katrina or something. But read this Mellencamp, and you'll find that he's found out that his records won't sell anymore without TV exposure. Neil Young has a My Space page Is that selling out? Well, the internet has created a new way of selling out. Get on My Space and stream your music. But remember My Space has an ad banner on top of their pages. Young's included. And, when Warner promoted Young's 2004 Greatest Hits album, they used TV to advertise it. What most acts forget when they say they'll never sell out is that they already have. The minute you sign to a major label or even an indie you've given the company the right to market your name. It's time to apologize to Clapton/Winwood.

Great Power-Pop Find of 2006?

As a power-pop nut, I was expecting the Collector's Choice reissue of the Wackers' Wackering Heights to be a power-pop find. CCM says its one in their catalog. But this ain't no power-pop. It's good CSN&Y while predicting the coming charting of America. But not the great power-pop find of 2006. I'm not gonna sample the other 2 titles in their catalog. Unless someone tells me that those are for us Raspberries fans.

What About Tunnel Of Love?

When reviewers say that Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions is his best since Born In The USA, they mean that he's never sounded more loose. Recorded quickly, the new album is different than that mega-opus. The genius of Born In The USA, was that it felt like it was done in a month, but research tells us that it took longer. Of course, saying that the new album is his best since, is a put down of Born's followup, Tunnel of Love, which is as strong as any in his catalog. But as he got older, Bruce's albums lost flavor and sounded fussy. Especially, the Rock ones. Seeger Sessions ain't Rock, but at times it rolls just nicely. His best since he became 10X platinum seller? Nah, I'll take Tunnel. But one that fits snug in his catalog.

Playlist for 4/28

Rakes - Capture/Release
Shakira - "Hips Don't Lie"
Bruce Springsteen - Seeger Sessions
Morrissey - "You Have Killed Me"
Tom Brock - "There's Nothing In This World" (forgotten 1973 Barry White produced)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Avoid This Mail Order Company

So, I bought the Soul Sides Vol. 1 CD from this company Sandbox Automatic 5.8, because the Soul Sides website says to support 'em. The CD they sent is scratched. I email them 3 times. Finally here from them. You know what it says? How can the CD be scratched? It's shrink-wrapped. Well, duh. I wrote back that I've bought many CD's that have been scratched. Pressing plants make mistakes. Anyway, I'm telling you all this so you can avoid this company. A search at the Better Business Bureau shows that others have had problems with these people. Anyway, I've got the BBB on them. I want a new CD or my money back, and hope to never have to see hear from them again.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Leading Light of Misunderstood Rock Era

Just as I'm on the bubble as to whether Tom Dowd belongs in the RRHOF (the documentary didn't convince me), I'm also on the bubble with Phil Walden Southern Rock Pioneer Dies. But I'd have no problem if he got recognized, mainly because Southern Rock is an oft-misunderstood genre (it was more than rednecks with electric guitars). Walden's Capricorn Records was indeed a leading light of Southern Rock's golden era, that I'm glad to see his passing has at least made enough headlines to get the Hall to consider him.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Capture/Release Then History

I'm on record as being a fan on the latest Brit-Rock explosian. I've liked all these bands: Franz Ferdinand, Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Art Brut and now the Rakes. Their album gets a stateside release on April 25 after being out in Europe since 9/05. Like all of the above bands they mine the early 80's Brit sound. Their songs aren't sloppy punk though, but thoughtful ruminations on daily life in Britain. Someone compared them to Mike Skinner's Streets. I wish them luck here in the States, but have a feeling that like the above bands they won't catch on. Franz Ferdinand's 2nd album didn't sell like their first, the Libertines are history and the Arctic Monkeys aren't selling near their hype. But I don't care. In a few years, the first compilations from this period will be out, and like those 80's comps, it'll show that the Brits had it going on. If only for a brief spurt. Scoop up these bands' albums now.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pray For The Voice?

NYO - Off the Record
I have to thank Chuck Eddy for getting me on the Pazz & Jop ballot. After reading his excellent book, Accidental Evolution of Rock 'n' Roll, I found his email and told him that I'm a freelance internet writer and would be interested in voting. Sure enough, he sent me a ballot. At the Village Voice, he started a Singles column, but then shifted to a weekly album column. They were both good, and for guilty pleasure fans like me it was always a thrill to see an act get mentioned that no other major music writer would praise (e.g. Rick Springfield). He's too good a writer to not get another gig. I'm hoping he writes or updates his two books (the other is on the best Heavy Metal albums). The Voice's lost could be our gain, if Eddy gets to writing more than he did at the Voice. Either way it goes, I wish him luck.

Playlist for 4/22

Sam & Dave - Soul Men (Collectables reissue)
Staple Singers - Be Altitude
Drive-By Truckers - Blessing and A Curse
Trammps - Where The Happy People Go (Collectables reissue)
Streets - Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
Zealous Records Presents Soul Sides Vol. 1
Rod Stewart as "Coach" on this week's American Idol. The humor is still there, even if the records aren't

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dis-patches from England

Each Mike Skinner, a.k.a. The Streets, album is a dispatch from England you don't want to miss. On his third album, Hard Way To Make An Easy Living, Skinner presents himself in not entirely great form, as a pain in the butt celebrity. Because after two hit albums, that's what he'd become. Luckily, he hasn't lost his sense of humor or this 37 minute quickie would be unbearable. I can see why Eminem is so popular in Europe. Each of his albums presents a way of life to a world that only knows the U.S. from the television. But Skinner is better than Eminem, because he doesn't wallow in homophobia, misogyny or lack of wit.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Drive-By Truckers Grow Weary Of Making Statements

Southern Rock Opera was their blessing and curse. The two followups all had a day-in-the life theme, but soon every fan wanted more of the same. So, I'm thrilled to report that A Blessing and A Curse brings 'em back pre-concept album. It's just 11 good songs about love and life and the world around them. More 70's Stones/Skynyrd than 70's Who. I wish they were more of a household name, but Country/Rock of the 00's belongs to them.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Speaking of "Dancing On The Ceiling....

The song shows up on AOL Radio's new Top111WorstSongs, along with "My Humps", "Tie A Yellow Ribbon", "Break My Stride" and "Butterfly" by Crazy Town. Haven't listened to all 111, but I'm sure there's a truckload of Guilty Pleasures there. Yes, Lionel's is one of them, but the Black Eyed Peas aren't.

Is Any One New Getting Played In San Antone?

This America's South Snubs Country Music caught my attention, until I read the article. It's more about how the South can't break artists anymore because of tight Clear Channel playlists. I'd still say it's a big airplay region.

When Cheap Trick Ruled

I can remember rushing to the store the day Dream Police came out. Cheap Trick were riding the wave of Budokan, and it seemed like they were going to take that momentum to greater things. But Dream Police was only okay. I remember listening to it over and over, wondering where the next "I Want You To Want Me" was. All of this comes to me as Epic/Legacy reissues Dream Police and its followup, All Shook Up. The latter I never heard. Chuck Eddy is big on it, but everyone else says avoid it. In fact the last Cheap Trick song I really loved was "Tonight It's You", a minor hit in 1985. The last album I bought by them was the box set, which was too long, and I've also been disappointed by the various comps that have come out. For prime Trick, get Budokan, In Color and Heaven Tonight. By Dream Police they were already gassed. It's too bad. They were power-pop heroes to me more than rock ones. I've heard small rumblings throughout the years that they belong in the RRHOF. To me they're like an athlete who could've done more, but just falls short. But I still own my vinyl of Dream Police.

Crazy Compilers At It Again

The Essential Roy Orbison and the Best of J. Geils Band are two new examples of bad compiling. On the Orbison set, "Running Scared" and "In Dreams" are re-recordings from the 80's, and on the Geils set "Looking For A Love" and "Must of Got Lost" are live versions. This is crucial, because both artists need definitive compilations. The nearest Orbison has gotten was 16 Biggest Hits and For The Lonely. But neither one has "You Got It". As for Geils, a Rhino 2-fer was great, but they need a 1 CD set in their catalog. Compilers. Will they ever learn that the consumer doesn't want remixes or live versions. We want what we heard on the radio. Stick to the script.

White Soul That Crossed Over

In the May issue of Blender, Mary J. Blige is asked to name an artist that she likes that might be a surprise. She says Hall & Oates. She always thought they were white singers. Seeing that H&O got R&B airplay in their hit days, it's no shock to see Black artists mention their name as someone they liked. She also names George Michael. In 1999, she and Michael released a cover of Stevie Wonder's "As" in Europe. It was a hit and the video was good, also. But Blige's label wouldn't put it out here in the States, even though she wanted them too. Why? Because Michael was still in the tabloids for his Bathroom stall incident. Anyway, I have it on my Ipod; still think it would've been a hit in the U.S., and mention in passing that Blige also says she likes Stevie Nicks.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Playlist for 4/16

Fats Domino - Alive & Kickin'
Good For What Ails You - Various
Rahsaan Patterson - After Hours
Ne-Yo - In My Own Words
Joe Nichols - "Size Matters"
George Strait - "Seashores of Old Mexico"
Gary Allan - "Life Ain't Always Beautiful"

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I haven't posted yet to thisI Love Music Blog . Heck, I don't have much time to post to many things. But I'll give the site credit for including posts like thisLionel Richie - "Dancing on the Ceiling". Can you imagine doing that face to face with many music critics in the world. Oh, and the answer to the poster's question was already answered: Not as good as Can't Slow Down, but still worth your money.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Not A "Fairytale" Ending

June Pointer of the Pointer Sisters DiesI always thought that June Pointer would go on to a decent solo career. But her solo stuff tanked because they were missing what made a Pointer Sister single so good: vulernability ("He's So Shy"), sexiness ("Slow Hand") and sass ("Jump"). June Pointer always made the most of her gifts. A great presence on Top 40 in the late 70's-mid 80's, she anchored the best songs of one of the last of the great girl groups. Too bad she never got the comeback she deserved.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Exhuming the Forgotten Era

Old Hat Records' Good For What Ails You is a typically fine exhumation of the forgotten era of music. That's what I always think of the Country/Blues sides that these small labels dig up. Most weren't popular, but they gained a following with the 78rpm collector's crowd. And Harry Smith's Anthology of Folk Music is still the benchmark. But these collection's are essential for all fan's of music history. There's so many out there now, that I can't keep up. But the best reviewed are worthy of your penny. For that's what most of these acts played for.

Speaking of Country...

I watch as many award shows as I can. Well, not the Dove Awards, but I'll give the Gospel, Soul Train, BET and the one that came on last night, CMT a spin. Country has so many award shows that nothing seems new anymore. It's the usual suspects. I wish the Americana awards were broadcast. I'd like to see CMT and GAC grow some balls and show an Alt-Country award show for a change.

Country's Novelty

Trace Adkins' "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" is obviously the strangest song to almost (#2) top the Country charts in years. A weird twist on the rap genre that loves their booty, this ode to Country backsides is pure novelty. Of course it's pure novelty. Country music singers have always done these types of one-off's, that never get airplay again. Haggard did a buddy song with Clint Eastwood that went to #1 in 1980. That's just the way Music City works. Adkins has had a moment or two on the charts. But this weird concoction is not one of them. And while Country purists howl, music fans just laugh it off.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Genius That's Hard To Pin Down

For every good 33 1/3 title, Born In The USA, Sign O The Times, there's one like Miles Marshall Lewis' There's A Riot Goin' On. Something is off in the whole book. The writing is amateurish, as if needing a rewrite, and Lewis doesn't add much to the legacy of the book unless he quote's in long passages the work of Greil Marcus. What does Lewis think of Sly's apocolyptic kiss-off the the 60's? Hard to tell, because Lewis never gets inside Sly's mind. Stone is an odd bird to write about. But Lewis doesn't dig deep enough into the album to keep us interested. Even at less than 150 pages.


When I was younger and just tuning into Top 40 radio, there would always be a song or two from an unknown that just raced up the chart. An insta-hit if you will, that from the moment you heard it, you knew was going Top 10. "My Sharona" and "Baby Come Back" are two that I knew from first listen would be hits. And that trend continues today. Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" and James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" are guilty pleasure singles, that are destined to be ragged on for years by the music critic elite club. But I knew they were destined to blanket your radio station for decades. It's funny how the insta-hits are by newcomers, and guilty pleasures to boot. The public gets these songs ("Jessie's Girl" is another) lodged in their brain and can't let 'em go. Damn the critics.

About Once A Month...

I check out this RIAA Certification - Record Industry Certification, mostly for the catalog titles. The latest update has 3 Roberta Flack titles from way back and a Cream comp from 1995. People continue to buy stuff, even if it never charts anymore. Catalog is still a good seller for the labels, no matter how much Record stores are putting less and less shelf space into it.

Playlist for 4/8

Van Hunt - On The Jungle Floor
Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
Jamie Lidell - Multiplicity (Still not as good as the Lewis Taylor CD, no matter what Christgau says)
Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy"

Kenny Rogers' Strange Appeal

I can't wait for the day when Kenny Rogers is inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. It's going to happen. Maybe in 10 or 20 years. The reason I can't wait is to see the look of horror on the faces of Country purists. Rogers is a thorn in the side of those that hate the Pop sound on a Country hit. But I've liked Rogers' stuff since "Lucille" and think his stuff holds up as well as Alabama's chart hits. In fact, Rogers' ballads are better than Alabama's. Although he is vilified as the Michael Bolton of Country music by the historians, Rogers' amiable personality is light years beyond the sullen Bolton. He's got a new album out, but like all of Rogers' albums (save The Gambler and Share Your Love With Me), it's full of filler. But he's got a great single on it, "I Can't Unlove You", so good that he landed Top 40 with it. And he's got another compilation on the market, 21 Greatest Hits, that proves that he holds up. There's a strange appeal about him. I hope Rogers is around when his name is called for the Hall. A true music industry pro, Rogers knows how the industry can chart you one year and discard you the next. So, I'm betting he'll be there when the inevitable happens.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gene Pitney 1941-2006

Gene Pitney was nominated 7 times for the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame before being inducted in 2002. I never thought he was Hall material, and blame Pitney fan Dave Marsh for shoving his induction down the voters' throats. Pitney had some great songs, but so did Neil Sedaka. Pitney wrote "He's A Rebel" and "Hello Mary Lou", classics for sure, but to me it still wasn't enough. But seeing Pitney get introduced to the Hall crowd on the 2002 telecast, I felt sorry for him. The response from the audience was lukewarm. And while I still don't think he's a Hall of Famer, I thought he deserved better. Anyway, buy the Varese Vintage 25 Hits package for all the Pitney you need.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

24 Hours of Prince

AOL Radio has added an All Prince channel AOL Radio, which so far has done a good job of digging up all the songs that we Prince fans cherish, but have never been hits. These channels don't last forever, so give it a listen.

Van Hunt Holds Me Over

Like many, I thought Van Hunt's 2004 debut would do better. But a lack of a hit single kept it from going the way of John Legend. His followup, On The Jungle Floor is as good. If Hunt has a problem, it's that he's indebted to the legends of his record collection: Mayfield, Gaye, Prince. Lyrically, he's more direct than the first two, and on a par with Gaye's Here My Dear days. I'd like to see him break free more often. He's funkier than Maxwell, who uses the bedroom to explore his reltionships. This will hold me over till Maxwell comes out with a new one.

Playlist for 4/3

Buddy Miller - Universal United House of Prayer
James McMurtry - Childish Things
Doug Sahm - Jukebox Music/Last Real Texas (Texas Music Reissue)
Kenny Rogers - "I Can't Unlove You"
Tim McGraw - Greatest Hits 2
UB40 - Who You Fighting For
Sting/Sheryl Crow - "Always By My Side"
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