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.