Thursday, May 28, 2015

Playlist for 5/28

Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts
Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two
Leo Bud Welch - I Don't Prefer No Blues
Bert Jansch - s/t
Corb Lund - Counterfeit Blues
Passion Pit - Kindred

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Playlist for 5/23

Jackie Wilson - NYC 61-63
Mavis Staples - Your Good Fortune
Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust
All About Elvis - Various
Built To Spill - Untethered Moon
Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Playlist for 5/16

Gurf Morlix - Eatin' At Me
Terry Allen - Bottom of the World
Calexico - Edge of the Sun
Laura Marling - Short Movie

Friday, May 15, 2015

B.B. King

B.B. King was called "Ambassador of the Blues" for a reason.  No other Blues man brought the genre to a wider audience.  His first record charted in 1951, and he was still touring in 2014.  King wasn't a flashy guitarist, but his notes matched his vocals.  Often passionate, at times to the point.  It was a style that would influence many Rock guitarists throughout the decades. He was as beloved a figure in popular music as Louis Armstrong.  And like Armstrong was for many the face of Jazz, King was the same for Blues.

Everyone knows "Thrill Is Gone" the apocalyptic 1969 single that made King a household name. And his collaborations with Eric Clapton and U2.  But I want to steer you to his recordings from the 50's/early 60's.  Songs like "3 O'Clock Blues", "Sweet Little Angel" and "Everyday I Have The Blues" set the template for modern Blues.
The best of those years is best captured on 2005's Ultimate Collection (Virgin) a superlative set of 50's/early 60's sides.

If you want his "Thrill Is Gone" era hits, there are dozens of comps easy to find.  1992' King of the Blues" box set can be found cheap.    But I think King was best captured on 2 live albums.  1965's Live at the Regal is a must-own.  And 1971's Live In Cook County Jail is just as good.

B.B. King was one of the last of the great Blues men from the pre-Rock era.  He went out the way he always wanted.  Touring and playing and spreading the Blues.  His final wishes granted.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Playlist for 5/12

Wale - Album About Nothing
Pokey LaFarge - Something In The Water
Ray Wylie Hubbard - Ruffian's Misfortune
Buena Vista Social Club - Lost and Found
Cassandra Wilson - Coming Forth By Day

Monday, May 11, 2015

End Of American Idol

I've watched every year of American Idol and The Voice.  I even watched the U.S. version of the X Factor. Call me a good old-fashioned glutton for punishment type if you want, but the shows were a pleasant distraction.  And if you're a Pop music fan, then they were more than okay.  Not the U.S. X Factor which was a dud and got cancelled after 2 seasons.

But when American Idol was at its peak (Cowell, Jackson, Abdul years), it was a force.  Most music critics howled and ripped it to shreds.  In their minds, the show was giving us nothing but disposable teen idols that brought back painful memories of Fabian  or Bobby Sherman.

American Idol ran into problems when it became a show about the judges.  Bringing on Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Ellen DeGeneres and Jennifer Lopez was great for publicity but made it lose its prime goal, which was to make singing stars.  Once these big names came aboard, the ratings began to fall.

In its last 2 seasons with Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr. & Lopez it has seemed an afterthought on the TV schedule.  The buzz is gone.  Water-cooler moments are too.

But let's be fair.  It has had its moments.  It gave us Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert.  There were decent B-league singers like Jordan Sparks, Chris Daughtry, Ruben Studdard, Phillip Phillips.

And it made a star of Simon Cowell, who was the only judge that anyone cared about.

The Voice may have spotlighted better singers, but it's made no stars of their talent.  Because that show has also become a show that's about the judges.

So, I'll watch the 2016 Idol and future Voice seasons, I'm no rockist, because I'm a Pop music kind of person.  I may be the last viewer standing.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Playlist for 5/8

Sonics - This Is
Bonnie Raitt - Takin' My Time/Home Plate/Green Light/Sweet Forgiveness
Ray Charles - The Great/Genius After Hours
Bread - Guitar Man/Manna
Emmylou Harris - Luxury Liner/Blue Kentucky Girl/Quarter Moon

Friday, May 01, 2015

Ben E. King

Ben E. King doesn't always get mentioned with the great Soul voices of his era.  But another look is due. What I loved most about his voice was the pleading.   I was surprised to find out that he only recorded 11 songs as lead vocalist with the Drifters.  He only lasted their a year, but his batting average was pretty great:  "This Magic Moment" "Save The Last Dance For Me" "There Goes My Baby" "I Count The Tears". He only last 2 years with them before going solo.

And King's solo career was almost as grand as his short stint with the Drifters.  "Stand By Me" was immortal, but "Spanish Harlem" "Don't Play That Song"  "Supernatural Thing" and "I (Who Have Nothing)" are definitely worth your time.

Despite "Stand By Me" going Top 10 thanks to the movie of the same name in 1986, King never got the latter day recognition his long career deserved.  He was nominated 3 times for the Rock Hall as a solo artist (the last in 1988), but seemed to have slipped by the NomCom.

Rhino's 1998 Very Best of is your best bet.  Covering the best Drifters songs with his solo hits.

Playlist for 5/1

Brandi Carlile - Firewatcher's Daugher
Van Morrison - Veedon Fleece
Jesse Malin - New York Before The War
Gladys Knight & The Pips - Imagination
Mtume - Juicy Fruit
Darius Rucker - Southern Style
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