NEWSLETTER '07 #22!
TONY HAS MIGRAINE: ALL LAME JOKES HIS FAULT
SAL HAS PULLED MUSCLE: DISTRACTS HIM FROM LAST WEEK'S RUPTURED CLAVICLE
MANY NEW RELEASES!
NEW YORK YANKEES, R.I.P.: SMUG METS FANS ALREADY GLOATING WITH 112 GAMES LEFT
PAUL McCARTNEY RELEASES BEST ALBUM EVER... IN 1970!
and now... YOUR ALPHABETICALLY LISTED NEW RELEASES!
THE AFGHAN WHIGS - UNBREAKABLE: A RETROSPECTIVE. It seems every time a Whigs or Whigs-related CD is released, we rave. We don't sell very many -- lots of skeptical readers out there. But here's the perfect place for you to start. An 18 track anthology (including two new ones, their first recordings together in almost a decade) featuring just about the same 18 tracks we would have put together ourselves. If you're not familiar with the band, imagine a ballsy rock n' roll band playing soul music. It really works. Just check out their brilliant cover of the Supremes' "Come See About Me."
BIG & RICH - BETWEEN RAISING HELL AND AMAZING GRACE. If gaudy costume jewelry was a country band, it would be Big & Rich. Not quite sure if they want to play twangy hillbilly music or AC/DC inspired heavy metal, so they do both, almost always at the same time, and it miraculously works. Kitchen-sink production too often takes away from the super-hooky melodies, but still, Big & Rich are a lot more fun than Bjork.
DAVID BOWIE - YOUNG AMERICANS (CD/DVD). This is the same one we've been talking about for months, with amazing Surround Sound, a complete video performance on Dick Cavett, and it's finally out in the States. Please reorder if you already did so many weeks ago!
JAMES BROWN - JAZZ. In addition to being Soul Brother #1, Mr. Dynamite, and the Hardest Working Man In Show Business, not to mention helping to invent funk, James Brown also found the time to play jazz. He wasn't the most talented instrumentalist in the business, but his jazz-oriented work definitely swings, and now the best of it is collected on one disc.
CHRIS CORNELL - CARRY ON. Chris' first solo album, the underrated Euphoria Morning, sounded more like Jeff Buckley than Soundgarden, and a lot of fans missed the boat on it. This one sounds more like Jeff Buckley fronting Audioslave, which somehow works. A great hard rock record that's got brains as well as balls. Includes a nifty cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." (As opposed to Nana Mouskouri's "Billie Jean". You'd think we're getting paid by the word.)
DREAM THEATER - SYSTEMATIC CHAOS. We don't get this band, but thousands and thousands of loyal fans do. A band that makes Rush sound like Tim Hardin. Flashy, soulless guitar solos, spoken word passages, and songs that go on... and on... and on. Available as a CD or CD/DVD combo, which has the entire album remixed in 5.1 Surround Sound.
THE IDLE RACE - BACK TO THE STORY. Before ELO and before the Move, there was the Idle Race, Jeff Lynne's psych-pop band. Long out of print, this is a straight reissue of the two CD anthology, which is basically all their recorded work. If you're a fan of either of the aforementioned bands, this is a must.
MARILYN MANSON - EAT ME DRINK ME. If anyone cares, it comes out Tuesday. If you don't care, read on.
PAUL McCARTNEY - MEMORY ALMOST FULL. About 1972, people began to realize that the Beatles, who made some of the greatest music of all time when together, also had the ability to make some of the worst records since the invention of the cylinder as solo artists. So for every Band On The Run or All Things Must Pass, we got stuck with a Wild Life or Dark Horse. We dealt with it -- tried to ignore the lesser records, loved the good ones, and hoped against hope that they'd come to their senses and get back together.
Beginning in the early '80s, when we all found out the hard way that Beatles can get older and even die, and that a reunion was no longer possible, there arose a curious breed of music fan called Beatle Apologists. Their job was to find the minutes of brilliance or even competence amidst the forty minutes of dreck that made up most Beatle solo albums, and use them to justify the whole sorry mess.
It seems like a large percentage of Beatle apologists have become record reviewers over the years. That's why records like Off The Ground, Gone Troppo, and Stop And Smell The Roses (by Paul, George and Ringo, respectively) received respectful, even mildly encouraging reviews upon their release. The bar was set so low that all a Beatle had to do was put any sort of garbage on a piece of plastic to prove he hadn't joined John Lennon in the great beyond, and by golly, that was good enough for the apologists.
Along with Beatle apologists emerged a somewhat more cynical group, the Beatle realists. They loved the Beatles too, and dutifully bought all the solo records out of some strange sense of loyalty. The difference between the realists and the apologists was that the realists were able to hear just how bad most of these records were. Conversations between realists and apologists usually go something like this:
APOLOGIST: You know, there are a couple of really good songs on this new Ringo Starr CD.
REALIST: No. There aren't.
Just to clarify, we love Sir Paul. So much so that we are still listening to Memory Almost Full, looking for that hidden gem in this mess of an album. As of listen # 6, it's still dreck.
THE POLICE - THE POLICE. If the single disc hits compilation isn't enough Police for you, but the four CD box set is too much, and the five individual CDs take up too much shelf space, and you don't want to wait for the inevitable three CD compilation, then this two CD, 28 track compilation is for you, Goldilocks! All the great songs for $235 less than a ticket to see them live. Sounds like a bargain to us!
ELVIS PRESLEY - ELVIS AT THE MOVIES. Features previously unreleased sound bites of Elvis at his favorite Memphis movie theater, watching films with the Memphis Mafia. Our favorite moments include "Man, that Holly Golightly's somethin', ain't she, Red?" "Are those two taken? Thank ya ver' much," and "Man, that Charlton Heston's somethin', ain't she, Red?"
PRETENDERS - LEARNING TO CRAWL & GET CLOSE. The next two in the very cool Pretenders reissue series from Rhino Records originally came out in 1984 and '86, respectively. Now remastered for the very first time (and boy, did they need it), plus each one has a bonus disc of rare and unreleased live tracks and B-sides.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN WITH THE SESSIONS BAND - LIVE IN DUBLIN (CD/DVD). One of the best records of last year, followed by one of the best tours ever, captured on one of the best live records of this year. It was a shame to see him fail to sell out Madison Square Garden because he wasn't playing with the E Street Band, especially when this heartfelt, uplifting and boisterous show was one of the best we've ever seen. This collection features songs from We Shall Overcome as well as ten reworked classics from the Bruce catalog, including "Atlantic City," "Blinded By The Light," and the big band/swing version of "Open All Night." Get it!
MARTY STUART - COMPADRES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF DUETS. The great Marty Stuart singing with everyone from Johnny Cash and Steve Earle to B.B. King and Mavis Staples, all in one spot.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - ANCHORED IN LOVE: A TRIBUTE TO JUNE CARTER CASH. A tribute to the late, great and wonderful June Carter Cash, this features such top-drawer names as Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Carlene Carter, Sheryl Crow, and, of course, Billy Bob Thornton, all on newly recorded tunes.
PORTER WAGONER - THE WAGONMASTER. Country legend and Dolly Parton's onetime collaborator releases his first new album in years, produced by Marty Stuart. A musical biography of sorts, this record features Wagoner's storytelling through words and music, and it really is one of the best country records we've heard in a long time. Wagoner's voice has aged well.
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UNTIL NEXT WEEK, WE LEAVE YOU WITH THIS:
2007 seems to be the year of reunions, with the Police, Genesis, Crowded House and Squeeze all taking to the road.
Sinead O'Connor and Jackie Coogan