Friday, December 29, 2006
What's that? You demand a third consecutive post with out-of-print Maceo, Pee Wee and Fred? Well, since you insist. Here they are performing as the J.B. Horns in 1990. The dated production doesn't do them any favors, but all three men offer fine solos on this innocuous groove. I'm still awfully shaky about living in a world without James Brown.
Brazilian composer Braguinha has died.
My review of Tuesday's Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert is here.
I continue to carefully study the new Village Voice jazz poll. I'm frantically searching for glimmers of hope. The presence of few artists under the age of forty is damning.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The race is run.
Bootsy Collins' Blasters of the Universe isn't very good. The 1994 double CD feels tired and played out. The strong Fred Wesley vehicle I feature here is an exception. It sounds like nothing so much as an obscure Stevie Wonder instrumental. Bootsy, of course, is another alumni of James Brown's school of funk.
At the risk of sounding like a drug-gobbling freak, I experienced an epiphany as I listened to the official remix of the Beatles' "A Day In the Life" last night. The song speaks directly to my existence in ways I'd never realized. Such are the pleasures of old sounds in new suits. On a related note, you're not hearing Love until you listen to the DVD version in surround sound.
I'm all for creative packaging. Yet the new Mos Def looks awfully silly on store shelves. Maybe it's supposed to look and feel like a burned CD-R that a local rapper pushes on you in the parking lot, but that doesn't make me want to drop money on it. Even worse, the CD was loose in the plastic case in the copies I handled this week.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
As I'm still reeling from James Brown's passing, I'll indulge in a related project. This out-of-print disco-era session was produced by George Clinton. Issued under trombonist Fred Wesley's name, the usual suspects- including Maceo Parker, Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell- are also heard here. The "Purple Haze" reference is far out.
"Time for devastation!" I love this absurd vintage television advertisement for a Savatage concert. A couple of these guys went on to create the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which I experienced last night.
This recap of the year in jazz only reinforces my bleak assessment of the genre's prospects.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Make it funky.
Oh, man. I'm supposed to be at work right now. But it wasn't until I opened this morning's newspaper that I heard the news. James Brown died Christmas morning. He was 73. There's little need for me to recount his accomplishments or impact in this space. He was a giant. Brown played a well-received performance in my town on September 14 of this year. I was at another show. I saw Brown only a couple times- from a distance at a festival and at a lackluster 1993 concert. I'm not the first person to suggest that "Mother Popcorn" is one of the great artistic achievements of the last century. A few months ago I put this song on repeat for a couple hours. Its complexity and mystery only deepened with each listen. That statement might also apply to the entirety of The Godfather's personal and musical life.
Friday, December 22, 2006
As I'm shell-shocked from the inescapable barrage of holiday music, I won't spotlight seasonal music in this forum. However, there's plenty of music that is just as spiritual as the most familiar hymn or carol. This gorgeous ballad is one such example. Kenny Burrell's gentle work on acoustic guitar, Cedar Walton's lush piano and the sensitive rhythm section of Rufus Reid and Lewis Nash are capable of moving a listener to tears. It's from 1991's Sunup To Sundown.
My review of last night's Cowboy Mouth show is here They're not one of my favorite bands, but there's no denying their power.
This is my first There Stands the Glass post using an Apple. I'm sure it'll get easier, but right now I'm completely befuddled.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The Blue Van are one of the better retro-garage bands I've heard over the last five years. The new Dear Independence is filled with references to The Byrds, the Kinks and the Nuggets collections. This song gets a lot of little details right, like the organ intro, the tamborine and the primitive riffing. I have the Danish band near the top of my "must see" list for 2007.
Few music videos are worth nine minutes of your time. I'll make an exception for Leslie Hall. This footage of an in-store at Amoeba Records is something else. I'd describe it for you, but I don't think you'd believe me.
Even though I realize that it's just a marketing gimmick, I'm excited that Stax Records is in business once again.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Journeyman bluesman Homesick James died on December 13 in Springfield, Missouri. Most biographers believe he was born in 1910. He'd become a blues festival staple over the past couple decades. This is a solo performance recorded in California on February 3, 1994. This date has been issued a couple times, but is currently out-of-print.
Even though the first single is an monumental piece of music, I didn't buy the new Nas CD yesterday. There's still so much neglected music from the past year around my home that needs to be digested. I couldn't justify adding to the stack.
Having been on every side of the consignment process, I found this Offbeat story about the effect of Tower's bankruptcy on New Orleans musicians very interesting.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I saw jazz pianist Kenny Barron perform Friday night. As I indicate in this review, I wasn't entirely pleased with the concert. While at least one reader disagrees with my assessment, I submit this video of Barron's drummer Francisco Mela as Exibit A in my defense. While Barron is among the most elegant of jazz musicians, I prefer the edgier side he displayed with Sphere, the Thelonious Monk tribute band, as heard on this Gary Bartz composition from the group's self-titled out-of-print recording from 1998.
Does anybody else remember Skafish? Not only is the new-wave oddball still around, he has a new jazz trio Christmas CD! My pal Lee featured this most unlikely of albums on the radio yesterday.
Kenny Davern died on December 12. He was 71. The clarinetist is heard to good effect on this 1977 video.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Characterizing Brett Dennen as a promising singer-songwriter sells the young man’s fully formed talent woefully short.
So Much More, along with his new seasonal song, “The Holidays Are Here (And We’re Still At War),” are strong evidence that Dennen’s idealism, melodic sensibility and gentle voice of protest will play an increasingly prominent role in the musical landscape for years to come.
The unedited transcript of an email interview There Stands the Glass conducted with Brett Dennen follows.
There Stands The Glass: A good friend of mine who mostly listens to punk music recently raved about you. Does this surprise you, or are you finding that you’re making inroads with people not typically into singer-songwriter stuff?
Brett Dennen: Well when you mix punk and folk together you get "polk", which is closely related to "polka" which we know has nothing to do with either the previous, so lets just say people are attracted to what speaks to them, and what speaks to most folks is truth. My music is one hundred percent truth.
TSTG: When will love come set me free? Has it set you free yet?
BD: Yes it has. Listen to what is inside of you. Spend some time on your own. Forgiveness will set you free also.
TSTG: Many of your songs, including "The One Who Loves You the Most," clearly echo Bob Dylan’s work. Even so, I don’t have the slightest inclination to compare you to Dylan. Why do you suppose that is?
BD: We were both born on a Tuesday.
TSTG: The lyrical content of a few of your songs are equal parts political and romantic. Why do you choose to directly tie these two subjects together?
BD: Love is thoughtless, all emotion. Politics is manipulative. It utilizes the mind. They couldn’t be more opposite than that. I like the balance.
TSTG: You come across as a super nice guy on So Much More. Are you?
BD: Why yes I am. Sometimes people tell me that I am not nice, but I believe that is their own insecurities talking. If someone feels as though I was not nice to them, it was me acting on behalf of what is best for me. I cannot let my own desires suffer so that I can take care of someone else’s feelings. That is called being a "push over."
TSTG: Have you heard Love, the new Beatles mash-up? If so, what do you think?
Is that the new Vegas thing? I have not heard it.
TSTG: Here’s a blurb about you in a trade magazine advertisement: "The Oakdale, CA, native continues to grow his fan base with a live show consisting of the honest songwriting of a Jack Johnson, the guitar work of Paul Simon and the attention grabbing energy of a Ben Harper leaving all in his wake of yearning for more." Setting aside the quote’s problematical grammar and non sequiturs, what’s your assessment of this description?
BD: I think comparisons are what people need in order to categorize. You can’t understand something until it is categorized. I am flattered. I am big fans of all those guys. I met Jack Johnson, he is about the nicest guy you will ever meet. A friend of mine is friends with Harper, so I am guessing he is great as well. As for mister Simon, he is in my opinion, the greatest living songwriter, and please feel free to quote me on that.
TSTG: Do you tour with a band? Did you consider recording So Much More as a solo acoustic album?
BD: Yes I tour with a band. No it is not an acoustic album. I consider it folk in a blender.
TSTG: Do you have a master plan of how you’d like your career in music to progress? Would you rather become a beloved cult artist like Loudon Wainwright III or a pop superstar like Dave Matthews?
BD: No man. I am fan oriented, but I also want to reach a lot of people through the mainstream channels. I will find a place that is just for me.
TSTG: This is a wild stab in the dark, but do you listen to much Chris Smither?
BD: Never heard of him.
Dennen’s tour schedule is loaded through March. So Much More is available here.
Friday, December 15, 2006
This out-of-print compilation of Atlantic Records hits has the dubious title of The Golden Age of Black Music (1970-1975). In addition to this elegant, gospel-based Southern soul smash, it's loaded with hits by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, The Spinners and King Floyd. The executive producer for all these songs is Ahmet Ertegun. He played a significant role in "the golden age" of popular music. The consummate music industry executive died yesterday. He was 83.
I wrote about last night's visitation service for Jay McShann here.
Speaking of the death of American music traditions, the local public radio station ran this great feature yesterday about an unfortunate change at the Mutual Musicians Foundation. The story airs the dirty little secret that guys like me always knew but dared not speak aloud lest we spoil the party.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Not many people appreciate Blue Days Black Nights, a bleak work from sometime Kansan Freedy Johnston. The 1999 album is already out-of-print. While it's not a jazz album, it sounds like Johnston had been listening to a lot of tragic ballads by the likes of Billie Holiday, Chet Baker and Nina Simone. With its mournful strings and pitiful lyrics, "Moving On a Holiday" is a natural fit for one of those "Bummer Christmas" novelty compilations.
This promises to be the best party ever. I love Mac Lethal's self-deprecating hip hop and can't wait for his Rhymesayers debut in 2007. I just need someone to drive me home.
I'd like to get my hair cut like Gary U.S. Bonds' in this odd film clip from 1962's "It's Trad, Dad!"
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The first fifteen seconds of "He's Frank (Slight Return)" will make you wonder why The Monochrome Set weren't as big as XTC or Wire. It's just as nervous, dark and catchy as anything in the first round of "New Wave." The song is available on this excellent survey of the band's career.
There's a lot of terrific stuff on this free Christmas compilation at Pure Volume. I especially like the contributions of Jesse Malin, Paper Route and Liam & Me.
The criminal element lined up to buy the new Young Jeezy CD early Tuesday morning. I could scarcely keep it on the shelves at my job.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
In yet another example of a music blog instigating music sales, I finally bought the most recent Rachel Ries CD after Songs:Illinois (link to the right) has repeatedly touted her merits this year. Ries manages to tap into a sweet and lovely vein of folk that avoids treacly cliches. She's more straightforward than Gillian Welch and Jolie Holland, but no less enchanting.
I have nothing against Taylor Hicks, the gray-haired American Idol. But I was horrified when I examined his new CD today. The embarrassing photographs on the front and back cover are extraordinarily unflattering. It's like his image consultants couldn't decide if he should resemble Clay Aiken or Chris Daughtry.
The fine jazz blog Words and Music (linked to the right) uncovered this breathtaking Miles Davis video from 1970. It's disturbing even now.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Songs: Illinois recently posted a song from Charlie Louvin's forthcoming release. Although Elvis Costello is a poor substitute for Charlie's late brother Ira, it made me recall the joy of first discovering classic brother band music. I was completely floored when I bought Are You From Dixie?: Great Country Brother Teams of the 1930s as a new release in 1988. The lively old songs by the likes of The Blue Sky Boys, the Monroe Brothers and The Delmore Brothers made me realize that music recorded even before my parents were born could still speak directly to me. The compilation is out-of-print, but this Dixon Brothers collection is still available.
I was bitterly disappointed in the production values of last night's T.I., Jim Jones, Young Buck and T-Pain concert. My review is here.
Good news for any publication needing a gifted and universally respected music and business writer- my old friend Chris Morris is available.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Jay McShann died yesterday. The Kansas City blues and jazz legend was 90. The Kansas City Star has a nice survey of his career.
Although we lived in the same city, I never knew McShann beyond shaking his hand a couple times. It always frustrated me that I only saw him perform in concert halls and at festivals. I would have given anything to see him play in a small nightclub. I'll nod in approval if you want to call it art, but his good-time party music is meant to be heard in a smoky room with a drink in your hand. For the last twenty years I kept hoping that I'd stumble into him at a jam session or that a jazz bar would book him for an extended run. It never happened.
I collected McShann's recordings to compensate for that absence. Given the general level of disinterest in the history of seminal jazz, it's not surprising that large swaths of McShann's catalog are unavailable today. I can recommend his recent recordings for the fine Stony Plain label, but I'll highlight three of my favorites from McShann's youth.
Blues From Kansas City: The Original Decca Recordings contains terrific remastered versions of his essential material. Alas, it's out-of-print. Yes, that's Charlie Parker on the alto solo at the beginning of "Hootie Blues." My favorite McShann session is contained on the out-of-print Roll 'Em CD. It's a low-down 1969 French recording with guitarist T-Bone Walker. McShann reprises one of his classics, "Say Forward, I'll March," on 1972's Going To Kansas City. It's a friendly saxophone battle between Buddy Tate and Julian Dash, but McShann puts them both to shame with his jaunty solo at the 1:45 mark.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Too late now.
Looking for proof that not everything in the '80s was golden? This out-of-print CD from the former J. Geils Band frontman is highly coveted by collectors. I'm still quite fond of its big hit, "Come As You Are." But the production of the album's opening track is hopelessly dated. Wolf is a gifted soul singer, yet this song sounds like it belongs in a 1987 aerobics class.
My official review of last night's epic show by The Hold Steady is here. A very brief but apt review is here.
As traditional markets for record labels and artists continue to diminish, many are exploring creative ways to forge direct ties to new and existing fans. A great example is Tennessee band Paper Route. They're offering a free downloadable Christmas EP, complete with art, at their MySpace page. The best part? It's really good. They list Emmylou Harris and The Flaming Lips as influences, and that musical intersection is where Paper Route resides.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
It's just odd.
I've been so giddy with anticipation for tonight's Hold Steady show that I was tempted to drive halfway across Missouri to see them Tuesday night in Columbia. When I try to explain the band's appeal to my straight (i.e. non-music obsessive) friends, I explain that they combine the traditional rock'n'roll evangelism of Bruce Springsteen with the punk ethos of American punk bands like Husker Du. It's not hard to imagine The Hold Steady covering this song from Warehouse: Songs and Stories, especially if you picture Craig Finn replacing Bob Mould's stutter at the end of "It's Not Peculiar" with the words "down on the banks of the Mississippi River."
NPR's Day To Day program ran this compelling feature on Israeli group The Idan Raichel Project today.
The New York Times details the blogging shenanigans of jazz enthusiasts today. The excellent Destination Out, which I link to on the right, is name-checked in the story. Maybe those guys would stop hating on me if I quit posting snarky comments on their site.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I know embarrassingly little about traditional and contemporary Mexican music. I listen to Spanish-language radio in my car and watch Univision regularly. But most significantly, I interact with passionate music fans from Mexico at one of my jobs. Even so, I never quite grasped what all the narcocorridas discs were about until I read this Los Angeles Times story today. The compilations' cover art typically picture guns and trucks. This gorgeous son is a lament about men who mistreat their wives and daughters. It has absolutely nothing to do with contemporary drug wars, but it'll do until I become a narcocorridas expert. The song is available on this fantastic box set.
Colorado alt-country act Drag the River is on a treacherous cross-country tour. The song "Beautiful and Damned" sounds perfect on these dark winter days.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear an instantly recognizable contribution from Jon Langford on the weekly radio show This American Life. The sublime "Babysitting"-themed episode has various acts cover "The Perfect Nanny" from the Mary Poppins soundtrack. Download it at iTunes and hear the onetime Mekon and sometime Waco Brother at the twenty minute mark.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Out of gas.
Few independent record labels have made a more valuable musical contribution over the past quarter-century than Hightone Records. They provided a home to the likes of Robert Cray, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Dave Alvin and Gary Stewart when some of these artists were completely out of favor. The recordings of these and lesser known artists quickly made the Hightone imprint a stamp of quality among roots music fans. The label recently issued American Music: The Hightone Records Story, a box set documenting their history. This fine little raveup by The Imperial Crowns is from a humble Hightone survey of the Los Angeles blues scene in 1990.
The only good thing about finding myself home alone without a female companion last Saturday night was the freedom to watch a tribute to Pantera on MTV2's Headbanger's Ball. The onslaught gave me deeper appreciation for Dimebag and a new distaste for the band's vocalist.
Friday, December 01, 2006
An overt homage to the socially conscious work of Bobby Womack and The Temptations, "Summertime In the City" is an uncharacteristically funky song from 1974 by soul vocal group The Manhattans. The song is not included on any of the readily available Manhattans compilations, such as this otherwise impeccable set of their late-period hits. One vendor is selling this CD for crazy money.
I had planned to catch The Republic Tigers and two other first-tier local bands last night, but I was snowed in. I've heard unflattering things about the Tiger's ability to present these incredible psychedelic pop songs on stage, but I can't imagine how songs this beautiful could ever be rendered as anything less than staggeringly brilliant.
My reviews of the new Damien Rice and Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood releases are here.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The mine is closed.
Fear and Whiskey is without a doubt one of the greatest rock'n'roll albums ever. No other band sounded remotely like The Mekons in their prime, but for you kids I'll suggest that the reference points are The Clash, The Pogues, New Order and Hank Williams. Amazon is selling a straight reissue of the classic for $9.99. Don't worry about tracking down this out-of-print version with extra bonus tracks. "Coal Hole" is the best song that didn't make the album, and it's not nearly as good as any of the 1985 album's ten tracks.
A song from the forthcoming Caetano Veloso album is streaming here. Brace yourself- the 64-year-old is now an indie rocker.
Although I don't intend to purchase it, I'm fascinated by this Garth Brooks package exclusive to Wal-Mart. It includes 43 songs for $9.72. I realize that Garth may have lost much of his luster, but it's still an incredible deal. Any country music fan shopping Wal-Mart's music department has to seriously weigh whether they're going to buy the new twelve-song release by an Eric Church-type or 43 songs by a country superstar.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
H-Bomb Ferguson died earlier this week in Ohio. The blues shouter was 77. Remarkably, there's a new documentary about the wig-wearing man. His late-career Wiggin' Out is very good. Today's blues scene is sorely lacking in characters like Ferguson. He will be missed.
I was pretty rough in my assessment of Natalie Walker's new release Urban Angel in my review at Back To Rockville. I wrote, "If the world is clamoring for a mall-rat update of Kate Bush, Natalie Walker is going to be a massive star. Walker’s pretty voice muses about romantic travails over lush, piano-based production. Urban Angel is lovely, even for people who aren’t 17-year-old girls." While songs like "No One Else" aren't exactly revolutionary, they showcase a likeable artist with real promise.
I am not the least bit surprised that Chris Daughtry sold over 300,000 units last week. I've had dozens of people tell me that they love him, both during the American Idol season and as they snatched the CD out of retail new release racks this past week.
In acknowledgement of the fifth anniversary of his passing, here's a video for a great George Harrison song from an unjustly overlooked period of his career.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
No more beauty.
Maria Rita looks and sounds a lot like her mother, the late Elis Regina. And that's a very good thing. Her debut is every bit as fresh and lively as this sample indicates. If you're not yet initiated in Brazilian MPB, you might get started with this simple video. Like Maria Rita's music, it's both adorable and sexy.
NPR ran a nice feature on Vince Guaraldi's contribution to the wonderful of A Charlie Brown Christmas television special this morning.
When I purchased Ornette Coleman's new Sound Grammar CD online, I figured that the super-high list price meant that it was a double CD, had extra digital content or consisted of elaborate packaging. I was wrong on all counts. Well, at least the music's great.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Excuse me while I play A&R man. Often overshadowed by her status as one of the most sexually provocative artists in country music is the fact that Tanya Tucker has a fantastic voice. It's become even more distinctive with age. I propose that a savvy producer- someone like Joe Henry, Jack White or Pete Lubin- place Tucker in a rootsy, blues-based setting. A new sound along the lines of early Lucinda Williams or the latest Bettye Lavette album could turn her career around, especially if it was released on a label with the right cachet, say Anti or Rounder. This song from Can't Run From Yourself is absurdly overproduced but it still hints at what might be possible. Of course, Tucker would have to be convinced of the project's worthiness. But it's been almost ten years since she's had a hit record. Something tells me she'd be game.
Need a little cross-cultural beauty? This clip by Seu Jorge and Ana Carolina covering Damien Rice is pretty spectacular.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Funtime is over.
Robert Jr. Lockwood died Tuesday. He was 91. I last saw Lockwood at the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival a few years ago. Lockwood was scheduled to perform inside an "acoustic blues" tent that was positioned just a couple hundred yards from the main stage. The blare from the nearby electric blues-rock band rattled Lockwood. Initially, he refused to play. Only at the urging of a couple hundred eager fans did he begin his set. But he'd stop playing every couple minutes to angrily shake his head at the situation. It was very painful and awkward for everyone. As heard here on an early '80s date, Lockwood was a powerful performer late into his career.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Jazz singer Anita O'Day has died. She was 87. I'll always associate her with the film Jazz On a Summer's Day. The concert document floored me when I first encountered it on PBS. I didn't know that such a rarified world existed. I've never attended a musical event as swanky as this. I Get a Kick Out of You, recorded in1975, features pianist Ronnell Bright, a gracious man who spent several years in Kansas City in the '80s and '90s. O'Day sounds quite relaxed here.
Beloved Kansas City jazz man Art Jackson has also died.
Minutes after I reported on the Hold Steady's current opening act in my previous post, I received an email from the Secretly Canadian label relaying the news that primitive pop band Catfish Haven are also on the bill. While it's very good news, a three-band bill significantly increases the length of the potentially massive night.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I don't think I could name an artist who better explemplifies zestful exuberance through his music than Beny More. We could all use a little more of this brilliant Cuban's sound in our lives. This compilation seems to be out of print, but I'm sure most of these are great.
Mogwai hurt my ears. Permanently. I was "working" one of their concerts a few years ago and couldn't leave the auditorium. Caught without earplugs, the Scots caused severe damage from which I never fully recovered. Listen to their new collaboration with the Kronos Quartet here.
The Hold Steady get another chance to kill me two weeks from tonight. Sybris is the opening band, and luckily, they sound nothing like my favorite rock band. Here's a video for the Cure- influenced band.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Those things are no more.
Bassist Larry Gray was one of the reasons Ramsey Lewis' show last Saturday was so impressive. His tone is gorgeous. You get a sense of that on this early '90s date. The following little tale doesn't really have much to do with music, but I'll share it anyway. A friend and I once took dates to a Jodie Christian performance at Pops For Champagne in Chicago. My pal was a regular at the upscale jazz bistro, so he ordered the first bottle of champagne. He and his woman left after the second bottle of the same wine was drained. Feeling giddy and in the thrall of Christian, I said I'd take care of the bill. My date and I ordered one last bottle. Only when the check arrived did I discover we'd been drinking $75 bottles of booze! That still hurts.
In acknowledgement of the passing of film director Robert Altman, here's a nice clip related to the jazz aspect of Kansas City.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The voice is silenced.
The key to enjoying Ta-Shma is to eliminate any thoughts of Matisyahu. Yeah, he's a guest on the new release Come Listen, and there are indeed plenty of similarities between the new acts. But Ta-Shma calls itself "Hasidic Hip-Hop"- not "Hasidic reggae"- at their MySpace account. The intriguing work by eclectic clarinetist Andy Statman on this song of faith makes Ta-Shma wholly unique.
I saw Ramsey Lewis Saturday night; my review is here. I've also rediscovered his funk album Sun Goddess. Even at this late date, it sounds amazing.
I wonder if I'm the only person on the planet who will buy the new releases from Tupac Shakur and the Beatles tomorrow?
Saturday, November 18, 2006
"Miss Rhythm." "The Girl With a Tear In Her Voice." "The House That Ruth Built." "R+B=Ruth Brown." "Motormouth Maybelle." The incomparable Ruth Brown has died. This compelling song from an unusual orchestrated session showcases Brown's unique combination of earthiness and sophistication.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Jerry Jeff Walker is threatening legal action related to what seems to be a terrific tribute album. Maybe there's more to the story, but it seems that Walker is behaving badly. Jimmy LaFave is one of the many Texans contributing to the project. As evidenced here, LaFave is perhaps the world's top interpreter of Bob Dylan. He's also a noteworthy songwriter. It's most unfortunate that LaFave hasn't been able to garner a national following. This out-of-print CD is available for $50.00 at Amazon.
I've long been obsessed with The Hold Steady, so I was thrilled to uncover this new video of a recent in-store performance.
I have a new infatuation. My pal Shannon pointed me to Leslie Hall yesterday. (The videos are where it's at.) I may be the last person in the world to get hip to this dynamo, but I'm pleased to have finally found room on the bandwagon. You know I'll be sporting my gem sweater with pride when I see Hall perform in a couple weeks.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I didn't "get" Wes Montgomery for the longest time. I knew that jazz fans idolized the guitarist, but his work always struck me as dry and soulless. Only when I discovered his commerical recordings- derided by purists as exploitive sellouts- did I begin to connect to Montgomery's individuality. This out-of-print 1967 Creed Taylor production is my favorite.
I didn't realize it until after the fact, but There Stands the Glass recently turned one year old. In my first twelve months I posted 263 times and never featured the same artist twice. I only focused on titles available on Amazon's top 20,000 a handful of times- either at the request of a record label or when a prominent artist died (Wilson Pickett and Buck Owens come to mind.) In addition to providing me with endless entertainment, I've met many incredible people through this site. Furthermore, I've only had one less than ideal experience with a record label. As a hobby, it sure beats collecting stamps. Thanks for checking in.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The dance is over.
Perseverance pays. Jim Lauderdale has been kicking around for years and only lately is he being widely recognized as one of country music's great talents. This weeper closes his out-of-print 1991 debut album. You might be wondering about that white strip of paper across the cover. Reprise stapled a bounce-back card to the CD insert. Among the questions: "What music television shows do you watch regularly?" The choices include Nashville Now, Hee Haw and Arsenio Hall.
Peter Hammill completely blew my impressionable pubescent mind with Nadir's Big Chance. It was the perfect bridge between prog and punk. A fan made a pretty good video of one of its most notable songs here.
I spend a lot of time in retail stores for one of my jobs. And the Christmas music kicked in this week. Most of the selections are so obvious, predictable and played out that when I heard a few songs yesterday from a Jethro Tull album I didn't even know existed I considered it an early present. And I don't even care for Tull. Lord help me.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
It's a lost cause.
The timing seems right for a Rickie Lee Jones revival. Cat Power, Jolie Holland and Damien Rice are among the new generation of artists that are clearly influenced by Jones. The beatnik chick just signed with New West. While not my favorite song on the overlooked Traffic From Paradise from 1993, Jones' Bowie cover with Brian Setzer on guitar is the best song not included on her three disc retrospective.
I handled the new Zune MP3 player at a retailer today. Like others have reported, it's big and thick (bad) but boasts a large screen (good). While I didn't dislike the Zune's feel, it lacks the oddly satisfying sense of touch offered by iPods.
My review of Sunday's Black Label Society concert is here.
Monday, November 13, 2006
The new Hellbound and Heartless by The Heart Attacks is sleaze rock of the highest order. It's been a great year for fans of the New York Dolls and this Lars Frederiksen production only adds to their good fortune.
My review of Saturday's Rise Against, Thursday, Circa Survive and Billy Talent show is here.
Gerald Levert has died.
Friday, November 10, 2006
I annoyed at least one reader of Shot of Rhythm by suggesting that John Legend might be in the (my word) "cheesy" tradition of Lionel Ritchie. While thinking about other '80s soul artists in the love ballad tradition I was reminded of the wonderful Conscience by Womack & Womack. If you're reading this, you probably know that Cecil is Bobby's brother and that his wife Linda is Sam Cooke's daughter. They lived up to that musical legacy for a while. And look- Legend has "P.D.A." and the Womacks have "M.P.B."
Here's a stunning deep soul obscurity by Joe Perkins.
Does anyone outside of Kansas City remember the Rainmakers? Here they are at the pinnacle of their popularity.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Tommy Jarrell was among the old amateur Southern musicians "discovered" by musicologists in the '60s. Venerable County Records arranges many of his well-recorded sessions thematically. Volume 3 focuses on the "banjer." I don't understand the business about the mole in this song (is it a political statement, a sexual reference or just an underdog sentiment?), but I'm smart enough to recognize brilliance when I hear it.
This brief Alan Lomax promo spot features a few seconds of Jarrell doing his thing. The shape singers at the opening of this clip are also remarkable.
I'm all too familiar with what will be forever known as "The Faith Hill" expression. I evoke that reaction with disarming frequency.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I'm a sucker for the sweet power pop issued by Eenie Meenie Records. I have nothing against Hinder, Diddy and JoJo, but this song from 2004's Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen is what a pop single sounds like in my little fantasy world.
After seeing Lori McKenna join Faith Hill on the star's reading of her song "Stealing Kisses" on Monday's CMA show, I planned to feature McKenna in this space. I was surprised to find that McKenna's releases are near the top of Amazon's sales chart, disallowing me to showcase them here. Good for her. My backup plan was to spotlight good ol' George Strait, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Yet all kazillion of Mr. Reliable's albums are also in Amazon's top 20,000. I love Strait as much as the next guy, but given the fact that his work is kind of interchangeable, it's remarkable that his legions of fans still feel the need to continue buying his extensive catalog.
My review of last night's Tech N9ne show is here.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Have you seen the television infomercial for this Time-Life collection of soul ballads? It features fantastic video clips of crooners like Smokey, Luther, Gladys and Lionel. Perhaps best of all, the celebrity spokesman hawking the product is Peabo Bryson. It's great TV. Bryson has a solid new hits collection, but it doesn't feature this ballad from his 1978 debut album. All the stops are pulled out here.
Rose Tattoo and (Australian) X bassist Ian Rilen has died.
I feel obligated to watch the Country Music Awards tonight. I wish I could list the performances I'm looking forward to seeing, but...
Friday, November 03, 2006
I love rock'n'roll. I don't mean the smarts of The Hold Steady, or the pioneering work of Carl Perkins, although I dearly love those, too. I'm referring instead to unironic mainstream rock exemplified by early Aerosmith. I was truly thrilled to see the top dogs in the genre, Buckcherry, last week. But their show wasn't nearly as good as Mardo's sweat-soaked performance in a local club a couple months ago. Sure, "Bombs Over Broadway" rips riffs from Bon Jovi, Mott the Hoople and Def Leppard, but try to suspend your critical faculties and embrace the rock. There's a reason I'm posting this on a Friday. More Mardo is here.
I know very little about the late South African vocalist Lebo Mathosa. This site offers an intriguing Euro-pop song from the striking woman's former band. She died in a car accident last month.
I saw Ozomatli for the second time last night. You could easily make the case for them being the world's best party band.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
The party is over.
Prince in Vegas? It makes perfect sense. The thought of a $125 cover takes my breathe away, but I suppose money has a different currency in Vegas. I've never spent anywhere near that much on a show, but the chance to catch Prince in a small room is tempting. I've seen him five times, I think, and he's only been truly great on two of those occasions. Fittingly, it'd a gamble. This is a great b-side from '89.
Read about Kansas City's goth-country act In the Pines here. Their MySpace page is here.
I'm really feeling Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore's Covered/Uncovered. The first disc is loaded with superb Quiet Storm sounds. It's too bad that its insidious software coding will keep me from buying it.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I've been under Tarika's spell for over a decade. The forward-thinking Madagascar roots band is never less than delightful. On this playful song from 2001's Soul Makassar, Rasoanaivo Hanitrarivo turns down an offer to move to North America. "I wouldn't want to be fat," she sings.
I know everyone's desperate to know how I'd vote in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot. In this order, I'd go with R.E.M., Joe Tex, Chic, the Stooges and Patti Smith. That means that the Ronettes, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Van Halen and the Dave Clark Five would miss the cut.
If I dismissed my self-imposed rules that limit my postings to the esoteric, this blog might resemble Shot of Rhythm. He and I share the same penchangt for populist musics.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
You may be familiar with reggae star's Junior Byles' biggest hit "Curly Locks." This superlative collection has three versions, including the one you know. "Got the Tip," also recorded in the early '70s, references "Curly Locks" in its first line before addressing a myriad of topics, including gambling at the track. Yes, it's the spiritual predecessor to The Hold Steady's "Chips Ahoy!" Even though Lee Perry's splicing is pretty sloppy at this juncture, this stuff is the greatest.
I call out Jolie Holland here. I appreciate the mighty Motorhead here. And in the category of defying expectations, James Blunt's live show really impressed me. My confession is here.
"One Day At a Time" no more. Songwriter Marijohn Wilkin has died. So has Brazilian arranger Rogerio Duprat.
Monday, October 30, 2006
The fun is over.
I finally got around to reading Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime To Bebop, and I highly recommend it. Needless to say, Joe Turner is among the dozens of remarkable characters the book examines. The "Singing Bartender" is well past his glory days on this relaxed 1971 French date. It's delightful nonetheless. That's Milt Buckner on piano, Slam Stewart on bass and fellow Kansas Citian Jo Jones on drums.
Brace yourselves for this revelation, indie rock purists. I saw James Blunt cover this Pixies classic last week. And you know what? I liked it! "Woo-ooo!"
St. Louis' Vintage Vinyl records reported in their weekly email list that a former associate of mine, Bob Shoenfeld, died recently. Bob was the founder an owner of Nighthawk Records , a wonderful label best known for releasing excellent roots reggae and traditional folk blues titles. I didn't particularly care for Bob, but I never questioned his dedication to the music he loved.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The dance is over.
One of the most intriguing concert bills I've attended in recent years paired experimental Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti with several masters of Indian classical music. I didn't really know what to expect musically or socially. As I walked toward a downtown music hall I was stunned to see thousands of geeky suburban people (of which I'm one) lined up at the venue. "Dag," I thought, "World music has really caught on." It turned out that there was a Barenaked Ladies concert in the larger auditorium of the same building. During the lengthy show's intermissions the lobby of the old theater was a riot of Indian intellectuals and Brazilian funlovers in soccer jerseys, all of whom were complaining about the dull roar seeping through the walls from the Canadian rock band's show. This 1991 ECM release showcases Gismonti's manic guitar work in intricately arranged settings. Tellingly, "Danca No. 2" is the shortest track on the album.
Kansas City is bracing for a new sensory assault by Techn9ne. Download the new single "Bout Ta Bubble" here (warning- there's a skit and some hype at the end of the track). The hyphy-influenced song sounds for all the world like a hit.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The girl is gone.
On paper, Cordero's En Este Momento should have been my favorite release of 2005. It had so much going for it- a girl singing in Spanish, a horn section, an intriguing genre-bending fusion and a tasteful record label. Alas, it's just not as good as I'd hoped. A typical track, "Maria Elisa" is pretty good, but it could have been so much more.
It's been over five years since I set foot inside the Mutual Musicians Foundation in Kansas City. It's increasingly difficult for me to be out past two in the morning for their wee-hour jam sessions. I'm weak that way. Now with the news that the venue will have no fuel available to keep me going, there's even less incentive to attend.
I haven't been in a strip joint in a long time, either. But now I'm tempted. Lemmy Kilmister was on a local radio station this morning promoting this weekend's Motorhead gig. He told the DJ that he'd be for a couple days ahead of the show and asked for guidance on local strip joints. The idea of sitting in a den of sin next to Lemmy holds enormous appeal to me. I wonder if I should try the Shady Lady, Bazookas or Temptations first...
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Go get this gem.
I’ve seen next to no attention paid to one of 2006's most significant releases. Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Inedito (The Unknown) was recorded in 1987 and until now had never been released in North America. The Brazilian giant was sixty years old with nothing left to prove and the sessions are refreshingly relaxed. Jobim revisits a few big hits like “Wave” and “Garota de Ipanema” and offers a few new selections. Several songs swoon decidedly into lounge mode, but even in its cheesiest moments Inedito is impossibly groovy. Jobim mostly employs conventionally attractive voices, such as the wonderful Danilo Caymmi but he plays unaccompanied on this wistful track. It’s so intimate that his breathing becomes a second instrument. Many such moments are captured on Inedito's seventy minutes of sheer beauty.
After seeing The Afterparty perform Friday night, I wrote that their music sounds as if the Rolling Stones had retired to Nashville thirty years ago. Translating my own code, I'm suggesting that their decadent, druggy country-blues are well worth further investigation.
"Healing," the single from soul giant Kelly Price's new gospel album, moves me. Follow the link for genuine spiritual comfort.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Worst album cover ever? While the London vista is wonderful, the attire and expressions of June Tabor and Martin Simpson make A Cut Above a genuine contender for that dubious title. To be fair, it was 1980. "Number Two Top Seam" is a tragic ballad about a horrific disaster. Tabor may lack the vast range and pure musicality of other Celtic vocalists, but none sing with more emotional resonance. This is timeless brilliance.
My review of Saturday's night's Andre Williams concert is here.
Sandy West, drummer for the Runaways, has died.
Friday, October 20, 2006
No more stones.
I've previously confessed my devotion to the Phillips brothers. Sandwiched between their ska days and their current incarnation as contenders for the punk rock champion belt held by Green Day, they went through a Maximum R&B phase. This mighty blast from 2002 would have pleased Joe Strummer.
Speaking of honest bands with true rock'n'roll hearts, The Hold Steady made a video for "Chips Ahoy!" It's mildly amusing, and I trust that they'll do the right thing and not give faces to Holly, Charlemagne and the other characters in their epic song cycle.
New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies had an incalculable impact on me when I bought it as a new release in 1983. I'm really put off when I hear its opening track, "Age of Consent," in the trailer for the new film Marie Antoinette. It's just not right.