Friday, November 30, 2007

He's In, But They Should Be Too

At the end of this article about John Mellencamp telling a concert crowd that he's been inducted into the RRHOF, the reviewer mentions opening act Los Lobos, and says they should get in too. He's right, but Los Lobos are never mentioned when names come up for overlooked artists. I say they belong. But I also wonder why the Neville Brothers haven't gotten a look, either.

Playlist for 11/30

Feist - Reminder
Luna - Best of
Amy Winehouse - Frank
Keith Urban - Best of

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

First Out Of The Gate

I really do like reading year-end best of lists from magazines and websites, even though they rarely entice me to buy something I haven't heard. Case in point is the first year-end issue to hit my mailbox from Alternative-leaning Paste. The #1 album in their survey is by The National. I've heard of them, but haven't heard anything by them. What's funny is back in the Summer, the same magazine gave the album 3 out of 5 stars. Now it's #1. Go figure. Of their Top 50 albums of the year, I have 20. Not a bad percentage.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What No Peter Cetera?

Take a look at the
2008 Nominees for Songwriter's Hall Of Fame
and you'll see some interesting names in the performer's category. I've never been able to predict how the voter's will go, but I'm secretly hoping that David Gates gets in.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

That Time Already?

Yes, it is. And here's my yearly post to prove it.

Greatest Christmas Songs

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Playlist for 11/23

Now 26
Alicia Keys -As I Am
James Taylor - One Man Band
Cosimo Matassa Story
Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes - To Be True (digital download only)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sly Keith Urban

Just because you add a banjo to your songs doesn't make you Country, and Keith Urban is no Country singer. But this isn't a hate rant. Urban is sly. Add a little twang, a little banjo and get Country radio play. What Urban has done in the last few years is become a picture perfect pop singer who happens to chart Country. So, his Greatest Hits is a much needed document of his style. 18 songs and most damn catchy. Even the ballads. I've heard it said that the problem with Urban is that he has nothing to say. Just sings his hooky hits and moves on. But do we always need to think, can't we be entertained? Urban knows his stuff, and once Country radio stops playing his songs he'll move to the Pop charts.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Keeping Up With The Kids

If you're like me you don't listen to radio much these days. So, where to go if you need a quick update on what's topping the charts? Internet radio is better than TV, which rarely plays videos. The NOW comps are a must for keeping up to date. But even better are year-end music awards shows. With most artists singing their biggest hits it gives you an idea of how and why these people and their songs were hits. The American Music Awards is no exception. The 2007 edition was typical of the year in music. The best moments were the ones that went against the canned performances of big hits. So, you get Sugarland doing a Countrified version of "Irreplaceable" with Beyonce. Or Queen Latifah singing a Civil Rights era song. But I was most interested in hearing "Kiss Kiss" by Chris Brown which is #1 at the time of this post. And frankly I don't hear it. Brown's song is an Usher inspired track, but Brown is a better dancer than singer, which is why he lip-synced the whole thing. It's a disposable hit that won't have much staying power years from now. And isn't that why it's heartening to hear Alicia Keys' "No One" which will be around for years. Like the Beyonce track, I can imagine still hearing this 20 years from now and not wondering why it went to #1. By then my NOW collection will be in the 100's. I still have to keep up with the kids.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rescue Me

You have to admire Collector's Choice Music founder Gordon Anderson's tenacity for sticking to his guns. At a time when record label's are reluctant to dig in to their vaults and reissue old catalog items as physical product, instead looking at digital-only, his reissue label is still pumping out stuff that label's have forgotten about. Whether it's the Nat King Cole catalog or the the Rascals, major labels like Capitol and Warner Brothers have shown little interest in reissues as albums. So, I was thrilled when 5 vintage John Anderson albums from the early to mid-80's arrived. Country acts have been hit the hardest by labels. You can find a million compilations but few actual albums from many legendary acts. I'm thinking of Loretta Lynn or Conway Twitty. Even Tammy Wynette. Remarkably Anderson has yet to get a career defining compilation of his own. But these reissues fill in a much-needed gap. Of the 5 I'm most partial to Tokyo, Oklahoma and I Just Came Home To Count The Memories. And unlike a reissue on say, Collectables or Wounded Bird Records (the other 2 companies that rescue obscure titles), CCM have liner notes. I wonder how long Anderson can keep a monthly catalog and forgotten titles in print. But his actions are nothing but heroic.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Playlist for 11/16

Goo Goo Dolls - Greatest Hits
Little Big Town - Place To Land
Van Morrison - Still On Top
Porter Wagoner - Wagonmaster
Bootsy Collins - Player of The Year/Stretchin' Out
Billy Ocean - Love Zone
Daryl Hall- Three Hearts

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tom's Top CD's/Singles/Reissues of 2007

1. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
2. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
3. Apples In Stereo - New Magnetic Wonde
4. Rilo Kiley -Under The Blacklight
5. Lily Allen - Alright Still
6. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
7. Mika -Life In Cartoon Motion
8. Against Me - New Wave
9. Junior Senior - Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
10. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
11. Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
12. Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather
13. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
14. White Stripes - Icky Thump
15. Lucinda Williams -West
16. Raspberries - Live on Sunset Strip
17. Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back
18. Clinic - Visitations
19. Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly Angry Mob
20. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
21. Peter Bjorn and John -Writer's Block
22. James Morrison - Undiscovered ('06)
23. LCD Soundsystem -Sound of Silver
24. Linda Thompson - Versatile Heart
25. Teddy Thompson - Up Front and Down Low
26. New Pornographers - Challengers
27. Kanye West - Graduation
28. Three Tenors of Soul - All The Way From Philadelphia
29. Amy LaVere - Anchors & Anvils
30. Iron & Wine - Shepherd's Dog
31. National - Boxer
32. Maroon 5 -It Won't Be Soon Before Too Long
33. Porter Wagoner - Wagonmaster
34. Merle Haggard - Bluegrass Sessions
35. Lori McKenna - Unglamorous
36. Shins - Wincing The Night Away
37. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga
38. Kings of Leon - Because of the Times
39. Radiohead - In Rainbows
40. Bruce Springsteen - Magic
41. Bettye Lavette - Scene of the Crime
42. Hives - Black and White Album
43. Feist - Reminder
44. Dr. Dog - We All Belong
45. Eric Church -Sinners Like Us
46. Mary Gauthier - Between Daylight and Dark
47. Goin' Home - Tribute To Fats Domino
48. Todd Snider - Peace, Love and Anarchy
49. MIA - Kala
50. Haggard/Nelson/Price - Last of the Breed
51. Britney Spears - Blackout
52. Jill Scott - Words and Sounds Vol. 3
53. Justice - Cross
54. Otis Taylor - Definition Of A Circle
55. Mary J. Blige - Growing Pains
56. Nelly McKay - Obligatory Villagers
57. Sonny Rollins - Sonny Please
58. Ryan Shaw - This Is
59. Patty Scialfa - Play It As It Lays

Top Singles
1. Amy Winehouse - Rehab
2. Lily Allen - Smile
3. Miranda Lambert - Famous In A Small Town
4. Maroon 5 - Makes Me Wonder
5. Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
6. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks
7. Rihanna - Umbrella
8. Nelly Furtado - Say It Right
9. Kanye West - Good Life/Stronger
10. Keith Urban - Stupid Boy
11. Rilo Kiley - Breakin Up
12. Flight of the Conchords - Business Time
13. Elliot Yamin - Wait For You
14. Timbaland - Way I Are
15. Mika - Grace Kelly
16. White Stripes - Icky Thump
17. Robin Thicke - Lost Without
18. Plain White T's - Hey There Delilah
19. John Waite/Alison Krauss - Missing You
20. Brad Paisley - Ticks
21. Britney Spears - Piece of Me
22. Nickelback - Rock Star

1. Motel Lovers - Southern Soul From The Chiltlin' Circuit
2. Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy/Stand In The Fire (reissues)
3. Keith Urban - Greatest Hits
4. Sly & The Family Stone - There's A Riot/Stand (reissues)
5. Social Distortion - Greatest Hits
6. Faith Hill - Hits
7. Fats Waller - If You Got To Ask (Box set)
8. Bob Wills - Legends of Country Music (box set)
9. Leonard Cohen - Songs of (reissue)
10. Culture - Two Sevens Clash (reissue)
11. Garth Brooks - Ultimate Hits
12. Sara Evans - Greatest Hits
13. Paul Weller - Hit Parade
14. Gary Allan - Greatest Hits
15. Jamiroquai - High Times
16. Captain Beefheart - Doc At The Radar Station - (reissue)
17. Kinky Friedman - Best of
18. Bangles - We Ae The 80's
19. ELO - Out of the Blue (reissue)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fussing and Fighting Today's Technology

For a musicologist like me, the thought of having to download entire albums in lieu of buying the CD is frightening. But I just did my 3rd download. My first two: a Rhino Handmade Television Live album and Radiohead's In Rainbows. The latter was free, so good. My 3rd was a 1975 album by Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes called To Be True, the one with "Bad Luck" on it. I read that Philly International was going to put the PIR catalog on Itunes so I've been checking. And Melvin's 3rd album was there. The classic Teddy Pendergrass era only released 4 albums (2 are on CD). But the 2nd album, Black & Blue is not on Itunes or CD. And To Be True has never been released on CD, at least in the States. So I had to grab it. But crap, downloading means no liner notes and I had to burn all the tracks onto a CD-R. What the hell? But for people like me searching for out-of-print stuff, Itunes and the rest will be the only way to go. Still, I wonder why a popular R&B group can't get their stuff released on a reissue label like Collectables, which has done Sony reissues in the past. I guess I better get used to this new Internet only release junk. And I'm not happy about it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Soul Still Alive!

Back in 2001, Rhino released an eye-opening compilation called Chitlin' Ciruit Soul, which compiled 80's and 90's Southern Soul. It was eye-opening because most people think that the Soul music they grew up with is gone and now only being played on Oldies stations. But Soul as you know it continues to strive in the Southern states and on some Southern radio stations. Google and you'll find a few worth streaming. Of course most of these songs and albums don't chart Billboard, but there is a loyal following. Enough that some older Soul singers and newer ones can carve out a decent living. German label Trikont updates the Rhino comp on its Motel Lovers, and it too is worth a listen. Only repeating 2 names from Rhino, Trikont adds mostly 90's and 00 songs. Some of the names are familiar to Southern Soul fans and even older Soul fans: Denise Lasalle, Gwen McCrae, Marvin Sease, Bobby Rush, Peggy Scott-Adams. But there are new names here: Big Cynthia, Sheba Potts-Wright and Floyd Taylor (Johnnie's son). All keeping the Soul flame alive. Most of these songs are about cheating men/women or women who aren't getting enough sexually. Hopefully we won't have to wait another 6 years for the update.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Non-Thoughts About The CMA's

I feel like I should say something about the CMA's, but I'm at a loss for words. Most of what I see in today's Country isn't Country, but Pop/Rock with Country voices. The biggest applause of the night was for the Eagles. I see hope. Miranda Lambert stuck out. Little Big Town will be around. Taylor Swift? Her voice wasn't very good. Sugarland was good. I'm missing some names, but today's Country could use a swift kick in the butt. 10 years ago Shania Twain did it. Before that Garth Brooks. Before him Randy Travis and the new traditionalists. Now it needs another shot.

Playlist for 11/9

Eagles - Long Road Out of Eden
Motel Lovers - various
Garth Brooks - Ultimate Hits
Arthur Alexander - Lonely Just Like Me (reissue)
Dynamicss - First Landing (reissue)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Another Overlooked Great Dies

Hank Thompson, who died today, was a unique Country singer who never gets mentioned much in that genre's history books, even though he's a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Taking Bob Willis' Western Swing and adding a touch of Honky Tonk and more importantly humor, he carved a niche of his own. The novelty hits may have distracted from his recorded legacy, much like Porter Wagoner's Rhinestone suits did to his music, but those songs were pretty great. I've cherished his Capitol Collector's Series since it was first released in 1989. Find it before you search his other collections.

Garth Brooks Forgets Something

Do you remember the 1999 album, In the Life Of Chris Gaines? Well, Garth Brooks does. On his new Ultimate Hits 2CD'er there is no sign of the Kenny Loggins sound alike Top 5 single, "Lost In You". It's no surprise that Brooks would like to forget that moment. But I must confess that I always liked album. And it was never the non-Country album that people said it was. A true Guilty Pleasure. A soundtrack to a movie that he was never going to star in. Yes, Brooks was at the height of his ego. But search out the song or even the album. It might surprise you.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

70's Rock Meets 00 Country

Ask a modern day Country singer who there favorite artists are and you'll likely get more responses for 70's era Rock like the Stones, Eagles or Skynyrd then you would George Jones or Tammy Wynette. Little Big Town adds another name to this list: Fleetwood Mac. On their breakthrough they hinted at a love for Mac, but on their followup, A Place To Land, its abundant. It's to their credit that they aren't derivative in their exploitation. The lead track "Fine Line" is Go Your Own Way" done up for the Country charts. "Evangeline" could be Stevie Nicks. Elsewhere I hear Eagles and as Chuck Eddy has pointed out even Sheryl Crow. But it's as a 00 act singing 70's Country-Rock that Little Big Town excel. Years ago my local Country station played CCR song's. They don't anymore, but at the time it didn't faze me. That station sill plays "Sweet Home Alabama" or Jimmy Buffett just to mix things up. But the line between Classic Rock and Modern Country has never been more obvious than today.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Grand Finales

New reissue label Hacktone does a good job rescuing the late Arthur Alexander's final studio album, Lonely Just Like Me, from the deletion bins. Alexander was one of those artists that I got in to right before he died, and this album was the reason why. Now padded out with live cuts and in-studio stuff and more things, it's a definitive statement of a shoulda-been more popular Soul singer. Of course, most people know Alexander by the Beatles' cover of his "Anna", but that never made him rich. He was driving buses when Elektra asked him in 1992 to cut a record, and it's a fitting finale. Other acts I became fascinated with right before they died: Keith Whitley, Ted Hawkins and jazz Sonny Sharrock. Right after I had to have all their recordings. Why didn't I realize how good they were when they were alive?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Playlist for 11/1

Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden
Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat (reissue)
Vee Jay Reissues Best of Jerry Butler, Jimmy Reed, Staple Singers, Dells
Britney Spears - Blackout
Shooter Jennings - The Wolf
Dwight Yoakam - Dwight Sings Buck
Da Capo's Best Music Writing 2007 is, like the other volumes from this series, an essential compilation of the previous year's essay's. Some online, some from papers, some from magazines, it renews your faith in the power of music critic's who can do more than just review records. I have my quibble's. Why 2 entries about Barbra Streisand, but no entires on Country Music? At the end of the book there is a section of Other Notable Essays for 2006, and some Country article's are there, but the editor's should've made room in the main section for them. Otherwise, if your taste in music reading extends beyond the review section of Rolling Stone or Blender, then pick up this book.
Add to Technorati Favorites