Saturday, September 29, 2007

Will They Be Back?

Acts since 2002 that have been nominated once and may never, ever be nominated again:
Cat Stevens
Conway Twitty
Paul Butterfield
Wanda Jackson
Sir Douglas Quintet

I send that out as a warning to all fans of this year's first time nominees that are questionable first year inductees: Ventures, Donna Summer, Afrika Bambaataa, Leonard Cohen

Notice I left out the Beastie Boys in the above statement.

This is the stupid way the Hall does business. People pop up on the ballot one year and then you never hear from them again. Abba in the Hall! Now that would tick off some people.

Why Not Willie?

Somebody at Future Rock Hall made a post about how the RRHOF fudges on the term "Rock" when nominating (e.g. Donna Summer, Chic), and wondered about Country artists. The names he mentioned were interesting, but none have made an impact on the Rock community. Which is what Bob Wills, Hank Williams Sr. and Bill Monroe did. One name he mentioned did stick out. Willie Nelson. I've long advocated for his induction. Of all the Outlaws, Nelson had the biggest impact on the Rock world. He was a favorite of the Rock press and lord knows he's duetted with tons of Rock singers. A few years ago I saw a semi-final's list online. His name was on it, but lately I can't find the list anywhere. But I know his name was there. Willie Nelson definitely deserves an induction. His influence on Rock music is as profound as Miles Davis, who got nominated and inducted his first time out.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Back Off Boogaloo

Of all the names that were bandied about for future induction into the Hall, the hot rumor was that Ringo Starr would get nominated this year. Whew, let's all breathe a sigh of relief. Who says the Hall doesn't get things right. What about next year? Let's not think about it until 9/08.

Why Not Metallica?

Metallica seemed like an easy choice for first year nomination. So why were they passed up? Could it be the curse of Napster? Or the Hall showing its anti-metal bias? It won't matter, because they'll get in eventually. But I would love to hear from the Nominating committee on why they couldn't slot 'em on the ballot.

Playlist for 9/28

Babyface - Playlist
Nellie McKay - Obligatory Villagers
Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
Iron & Wine - Shepherd's Son
Joni Mitchell - Shine
Ann Wilson - Hope & Glory

2008 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Ballot

Once again I've ranked my 9 choices.

1. Madonna - Cultural icon, dance icon and a string of classic Pop records
2. Donna Summer - Disco icon with a string of classic Dance singles
3. Chic - Not just a great Disco group, but a great group
4. John Mellencamp - If Jackson Browne and Bob Seger, why not him
5. Beastie Boys - White boys can rap, they can also create classic hip hop meets rock albums
6. Leonard Cohen - Brilliantly dark lyrics, but I want Randy Newman
7. Dave Clark Five - At their best - great singles with great drum sound
8. Ventures - the novelty of having an all instrumental Pop group in the Hall is oddly appealing
9. Afrika Bambaataa - Hip Hop pioneer as DJ and Producer, but at first I was all for this nomination. But after listening to his catalog, I'll need more convincing

Everybody Dance Now!!

The 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees will no doubt tick off fans of "Rock and Roll" who feel the RRHOF isn't nominating "Rock" artists like they should. A look at the 9 names reveals only 1 true "Rock" name-John Mellencamp. So fans of Kiss, Rush, Alice Cooper, etc. will be ticked. And what about Metallica? Shouldn't they have been a first time nominee? If anything the 2008 ballot is where the Hall takes off their shoes and hits Studio 54. Madonna, Chic, Donna Summer and even Afrika Bambaataa are responsible for some of dance music's great floor jams. Despite my own misgiving's about who can't get nominated or inducted: Spinners, Randy Newman, Hall & Oates, Luther Vandross, this is still a diverse list. Like the 2007 ballot, it has 9 nominees. To me, this doesn't mean much. In 2007 the 9 nominee ballot had people thinking that whoever didn't get inducted would get on the 2008 ballot. Not the case. The Stooges and Joe Tex were nominated last year but aren't listed.

So, the bottom line is that the 9 names are indeed diverse-Ventures with Leonard Cohen meeting Donna Summer. The arguments will continue. Just like the RRHOF wants it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

All The Rob Thomas....

Think about it. Did Grand Funk or the Three Dog Night ever make a great album? But they had great singles. And that's why their greatest hits albums adorn your shelf. I thought of those bands and some others while listening to Matchbox Twenty's first compilation, Exile On Mainstream. Years ago I read an article about the band, in which one of the members said that Rob Thomas can shit hooks. Thomas' big critic's find him to be a vocally overbearing presence. Sort of a David Clayton-Thomas for the 90's/00's. But, for me, his songs are too catchy to ignore. You can do the latter easily if you're not a fan of Top 40. But Thomas is smart enough to hook his albums with just enough sure shots. And at 11 easily digestable tracks, the sure shots sound better here than when surrounded by filler. The band adds an EP of six songs, with a couple of them sounding like hits. Come to think of it, Blood Sweat & Tears' Greatest Hits album is pretty good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Retro Rocking

Bruce Springsteen's Magic will get the most press, but I find myself gravitating towards the latest John Fogerty, Revival.

Fogerty was retro when he was with CCR. Revival looks back twice. "Creedence Song" and "Summer of Love" look back at Fogerty's great run. But neither is that great. But the rest of the album is better. Unlike Springsteen, who doesn't get political on his latest, Fogerty takes on the Bushies with more fervor than he showed on the wan Deja Vu. If only the album had an out and out winning single, this would be his best solo album. But I'm still giving that nod to Centerfield.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Not Your Mama's Joni

Joni Mitchell had no plans to make any more new albums. But then one day a topic hit her that she couldn't resist writing about: Global Warming. With a revamped "Big Yellow Taxi" included Shine isn't really an ecology record. On the title track she takes on the War and the Catholic Church. Elsewhere, she just rants. Just like she has on her last studio albums from the 80's and 90's If you know Mitchell's work from that era, then you'd expect a whole lot of preaching, but here she let's the music catch up to the lyrics. It's hummable, but damn meaningful This is not folk Joni, but mid-70's Jazz Joni. If the albums Mingus and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter make you cringe, then you won't like this either. Joni Mitchell is a strange paradox. In interview's she rails against the music industry, but her new album is on the Starbuck's label. At 45 minutes, minus the opening instrumental, Shine shows that Mitchell should keep recording. Somewhere on something. Just as long as she keeps the preaching and pretension to her own muse.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Merle Haggard Goes Back ...And Forth

On 2 recent CD's, Merle Haggard reinvents some oldies, throws in some new ones and generally sounds comfortable in his 70 year old skin. The Bluegrass Sessions and the Cracker Barrel only Working Man's Journey (you can order it both feature typical latter day Hag. The former isn't any more Bluegrass than any other Haggard release. Sure, the best Bluegrass pickers are on it, but it's really hardcore Country. More laidback than the Cracker Barrel release. Working Man's Journey is more typical of Haggard's recent CD's, but with some rerecorded oldies worked in. Of the two, the Cracker Barrel has the best of his new songs ("Stormy New Orleans", "Songman"), while Bluegrass has another good political song, "What Happened". Either way you can't go wrong. I've longed believed that outside of Hank Sr., Haggard is the best Country Music Songwriter. And these two prove my point.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reba Fights The Gimmick

Like the 55 year old George Strait, 52 year old Reba McEntire has managed to get airplay and chart results in a Country radio market that rarely embraces anyone older than 50. For me, McEntire has been a singles artist, even though I've got a soft spot for Whoever's In New England, and fans tell me that her mid-80's albums are worth checking out. But from the 90's onward she became a singles artist. So her many comps are worth picking up. Now, doing what most Pop artist's are, she's dropped a Duets album. If there are 3 things every artist will eventually do it's these: an album of covers, a duets one and a greatest hits with a couple of new songs. So, the suits at MCA have found a clever marketing ploy to keep McEntire on the charts and to garner her bigger publicity than a new solo album would. Duets is actually pretty good. The best tracks being with Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Ronnie Dunn, LeAnn Rimes and Justin Timberlake. Yeah, you read the last one right. Although, Justin is more a background vocalist than co-singer. McEntire sounds good throughout, often better than her counterparts. Okay, it's too bad that older singer's have to rely on marketing gimmicks to get media attention for their latest releases. But when the results are satisfying (and Duets is) one shouldn't complain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sam Beam's Secret

The Shepherd's Dog is Sam Beam a.k.a. Iron & Wine's best album because Beam finally reveals himself. In the past Beam's albums all featured his trademark hush & strum. Tuneful for sure. But I've always felt that Beam was hiding something. His collaboration with Calexico was the first sign. Beam is a folk-rocker from the 70's. Shepherd's Dog has the usual Beam trademark's. Hard to make out songs and hummable melodies. But it also is more alive than anything he's ever done. It won't affect his adoring masses, but it's made to win over new fans.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Guilty Pleasure Fans Unite!

Dave Loggins, Dan Fogelberg, Bread, ballads by Eric Clapton and Jim Croce. Guilty Pleasure fans of the world unite. There are 8 covers on the new Babyface album, Playlist, and 2 new songs. Babyface was the songwriter of the 90's. But he quickly burned out. His recent albums are good, but nobody paid attention. So, he does what everyone does eventually. Release a cover album. But wait. Look at those artists. You can see where his heart was in the 70's. But then you could always hear this on the songs he wrote in the 90's. Even though they were dressed up with the Babyface sound. I'm a sucker for these types of albums. But especially ones that dig into the Guilty Pleasure vault. Oh, did I mention he covers "Shower The People"?

Sunday, September 16, 2007


50 Cent said he would retire if Kanye West outsold him in their 9/11 showdown. Well, West did. I'm not a big fan of the Kanye album, but I'll upgrade it if 50 keeps his word. I've only liked a couple of 50 Cent's songs, but find his raps unmemorable. On his new album, he desperately tries to stay in the crossover game by including Justin and Robin Thicke for format airplay. It's a weak album. But will he retire? Remember the publicity ploy Jay-Z used a few years ago, saying he was finished. And then he started showing up on everyone's singles. Leading to a bad comeback album. 50 Cent could retire that name. But for a future album he could use 50 or Curtis or Curtis Jackson. Retire? We can only hope he keeps his word.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Playlist for 9/12

Tom T. Hall - Sings Miss Dixie
Patti Scialfa - Play It As It Lays
Teddy Thompson - Up Front And Down Low
Manu Chao - La Radiolina
Ringo Starr - Very Best of
Elvis Presley - Date With Elvis

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Best 9/11 Song?

There are a lot of anti-War songs since 9/11, and a lot of post-Katrina songs since that event, but straight from the heart 9/11 is hard to find. I'm not talking about songs that came out a year or two later, but ones that did right after that day. So, this morning listening to KPIG, my ears were alerted to a cover of Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When The World Stop Turning" by the Wrights. I've never heard of them. But there Wikipedia page says that they are on Jackson's beauty label and that Adam Jackson is the nephew of Alan. But still, listening to someone else cover Alan Jackson's song made me appreciate it more. Jackson wrote this immediately after 9/11 and his thoughts have a rawness that's missing in all the other 9/11 songs. As time fades, and the date of 9/11 becomes just another calendar entry, Jackson's bare feeling's still have just the right feeling of loneliness, sadness and uncertainty.

Monday, September 10, 2007

MTV Does Us A Favor

MTV says it will not show repeats of its 2007 VMA's. And for that I say, thank you. Certainly, the strangest Award show in recent memory. With all the best performances not on stage, but in surrounding Vegas hotels. From the botched Britney opener to the ridiculous pandering of the Kanye/50 Cent faceoff to the worst of Sarah Silverman to a host of will-never-be-heard-from again one hit wonders, this will not bear multiple viewings.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Summer of Thompson's

What are the odds that Richard, Linda and their son Teddy would all release albums in a 3 month stretch. And which one is better? The surprise pick would be Tedy's Up Front and Down Low, a collection of mostly downbeat Country covers. Linda's comes in second and Richard's a close third. Richard and Linda's CD's of new songs are worth your trouble if you're a lifelong fan. Recently, Richard came to town and I asked some people if they were going. Most had never heard of him, but new of Fairport Convention. Sad, but he's still out there. And the Thompson name lives on with Teddy.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Kanye Trips Up

The surprising thing about Kanye West's 3rd album is how bland it sounds. Never a great rapper, he's Hip Hop's best Producer. And his two previous albums came to life with inspired samples and new beats. But Graduation just sits there. West wants you listen more this time around. But his lyrics can't catch up to his musical ambitions. He may be a genius, but even genius' can't get there ideas to go from paper to music.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Garth The Hypocrite

In the Garth Brooks press conference to announce his upcoming 2CD Ultimate, he was asked why his stuff isn't on Itunes. He said it's because he wants his albums to be listened to as a whole, and Itunes won't sell album only downloads, without the option of single track purchases. But wait a minute. This compilation will be Brooks' 2nd his album. If he wanted his albums to be heard whole why doesn't he follow the route of AC/DC or Metallica and not release a Greatest Hits album. If the consumer wants the hits, let 'em buy his albums. Ah, but he's a Country artists. And all Country acts release a compilation or two or three in their lifetime. Brooks, makes no sense when he lambastes Itunes and others because they won't sell his downloads whole. I've always like Garth, but if he's willing to pad his pockets with a new compilation that only has 4 new tracks, then he needs to be called out for being ignorant to the consumer's needs.

I Have A Pavarotti CD

I'm no musical snob. I do have Classical and Opera in my collection. But the latter only consists of a Best of from Pavarotti and Placido Domingo. As long as they stay on their side of the fence, I love their voices. But just as Pop artists shouldn't do Opera (Aretha at the Grammy's was the rare exception), Opera shouldn't do Pop. So, Pavarotti dipped his toe in to our side of the pond and the results weren't good. But a great voice is a great voice, and at his peak Pavarotti was grand.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

And George Too...

Not playing Beatle favorites. I never believed George Harrison belonged in the RRHOF, either. Despite my love for "Crackerbox Palace".

I Know Nothing About World Music

How does one reviews a World Music album when they don't understand a word of the artists' native tongue? Well, it's all about the music, when the words go over your head. Such was the case in 2001 when Manu Chao's Esperanza came out. A dizzying mix of styles compensated for what was foreign to me. Now comes his third album, La Radiolina, and it's done up in the same vein as Esperanza. Of course it's possible to know what Chao is singing about. A couple of songs reference English, and research tells me that the rest are about life and such. Not so much politics. Chao isn't very prolific. Only 3 albums in 9 years. But each one will give your ears an out of your Country experience.

Give The Drummer Some?

I hope this article is wrong. Ringo Starr for the RRHOF? His nomination or induction would be enough to make even defenders of the Hall like me throw my hands up in disgust. I can imagine what anti-RRHOF'ers ill write. With the Nominating committee about to unload their latest choices, if Starr's name is on the list, I'll begin to worry.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back to the 80's

The Hall & Oates concert I attended yesterday went pretty much as I expected. 2 hours of mostly hits, with only 1 post 1985 song, a Marvin Gaye cover, a couple of mini-hits, but mostly the Top 10's. Only one #1 missing, "Private Eyes". Hall is still in good voice, although he got raspy by the end, and they can milk their catalog for endless tours. As long as Hall's voice holds up.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I Remember Lyle Lovett

Lyle Lovett released a new album this week, his first in 4 years, and I didn't buy it. A new Lovett album would be an easy buy back in the day. But I've grown disinterested in his new music. I think Lovett has too. He's become a touring staple and that's where his bread and butter is. Like a lot of acts who don't sell much, Lovett makes a living from the road. So when they do put out albums, it's almost an afterthought. There's nothing wrong with his new album, but it didn't make me think of his great run in the late 80's or early 90's.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

She's Got It

CMT could've served Miranda Lamber better on her Cross Country show with Jack Inram. Ingram is just too bland, but Lambert lived up to both of her album's great moments. Having only seen her in spot checks on TV awards shows, here she's spunky, sexy, sassy and full of that Southern girl confidence that only Texas could breed. I just wish she had been teamed up with someone who could match her above traits. What about Loretta Lynn or Tanya Tucker?
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