If you notice a slight twang in this week's blog, it might be because it's being written in Nashville! But, more importantly, you might want to consider getting psychiatric help--because blogs aren't actually audible!
Still, my deep affection for all things Southern is certain to color this exciting rundown of the week's top releases! I'll probably suggest that some terrible records are great just because I'm in a good mood!
But the real cause for my enthusiasm?
Because it's a week when both Fat Joe and Joe have new releases!
It's true! Some blogs actually write themselves!
Avenged Sevenfold: Nightmare (Warner Bros.) A new album by Avenged Sevenfold is always something to consider--as is the simple fact that you can't walk out of a 7/11 with a Slurpee without paying for it! Still, the much-loved hard rock band has made their point in spades over the course of their career! Not once, not twice, but seven times they've walked out of their local 7/11 without paying for Slurpees while strategically-selected band members have distracted the sales clerk by proudly displaying their tattoos! Nightmare must've been a harrowing experience for the band: In it, they conceptualize a world where their teenage friend Joey actually did go to juvenile hall deservedly for stealing a Heath bar, and thus the so-called "vengeance" they've based their career on has in fact been all for naught! But you know what? This baby still rocks like a "mutha"!
Tom Jones: Praise & Blame (Lost Highway) Tom Jones turns 70 this year--one thing younger artists, try as they might, have never been able to do! But he's never been less than hip--and whether it's the '60s, the '90s, or the 2010s, the man has a unique ability to blend showmanship with an unerring sense of the contemporary--and these days, sounding "authentic" is more contemporary than ever! Thus this new album, says Jones, in which "we wanted to go back to the basics, go back to the source"! As a result, he's put together a great album that blends gospel, blues and country music that, unfortunately, can't actually be heard, since in many cases the "sources" themselves came from the pre-phonographic era! But it's the thought that counts, and I think it's one heck of a great concept!
Sky Sailing: An Airplane Carried Me To Bed (Universal Republic) The early work of Adam Young--known today as bedroom rocker Owl City--gets an unexpected showcase nearly four years after the fact, and it's not bad at all! "When you listen to this record," recalls Young today, "you can hear naivety, innocence, inexperience and the wide-eyed imaginings of a wishful thinker." And that was just his parents, upstairs! Young himself is pretty good, though--and I suggest we all make this a hit too, just to see if he'll end up releasing his eighth grade Christmas pageant next! Go dude!
The Robert Cray Band: Cookin' In Mobile (Vanguard) An excellent, much-admired player whose contemporary work in blues and R&B is mostly on the mark, Cray offers us a live set here from Mobile, Alabama--available in both CD and DVD format! It's great--though on a purely conceptual level, Cray sitting in a McDonald's booth running down his favorite local restaurants and fast food joints for 90 full minutes without ever playing a note may be asking a bit much from those of us who don't share his sense of irony about today's truth in labeling laws! But what the heck! He's cool!
Clyde McPhatter: Lover Please / The Complete MGM & Mercury Singles (Hip-O Select) Speaking of R&B, very happy to see that Hip-O has released this 2-CD collection of latter-day works by historic figure McPhatter, whose early '50s work with Billy Ward's Dominoes was pioneering and enormously influential in the development of what would later be called soul music. There's more pop on here than you might imagine, but it's well-sung, well-arranged, and well-deserving, at long last, of this reissue. Check it out!
Dino Saluzzi: El Encuentro (ECM) A beautiful live album from bandoneon master Saluzzi--recorded last year in Amsterdam and featuring the Argentinian musician, his saxophonist brother, cellist Anja Lechner and the Metropole Orchestra. Ambitious, arty, atmospheric and rhythmic, El Encuentro--"The Encounter"--is probably not what a guy sitting in a Nashville hotel room should be listening to right now, but with a new Fat Joe album coming up any paragraph, give me a break!
Judy Collins: Fifth Album, In My Life, Whales & Nightingales, True Stories & Other Dreams, Bread & Roses (all Collector's Choice) Kudos to Collector's Choice for going the distance and individually reissuing a non-stop flow of worthy albums, many of which have great cultural import, such as these--which showcase pioneering folk babe Collins making her move from folkie to songwriter-spotter supreme (showcasing then-little-heard works by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot and Richard Farina), all of it bedecked by sophisticated and gorgeously played arrangements. Nowadays those writers' talents seem obvious, but back then, in many cases, this is where a major portion of baby boomers first heard the stuff. Ke$ha too!
Stevie Ray Vaughan: Couldn't Stand The Weather: Legacy Edition (Epic/Legacy) Those who acknowledge Stevie Ray Vaughan's heralded abilities many not have heard him in a while; this new edition of his 1984 Epic Records set drives home exactly how good he was! Bolstered by bonus tracks and a second disc featuring the Texas guitarist playing an '84 gig in Montreal, polished and fierce, it also includes fab liner notes and is worthy of your purchase today!
Fat Joe: The Dark Side (Terror Squad) Long one of my favorites, Fat Joe is back--and what a story he has to tell! With guest stars like Young Jeezy, R. Kelly, Cam'ron, Too Short, and the immortal Ta, Fat Joe here recounts with brutal honesty his trip to the moon--which he'd apparently always thought was made of green cheese, and heck, he was hungry! Sadly, though, there was no cheese to be had...at least on the side of the moon we can see--and Joe has returned to share the gripping tale! From what I hear!
Joe: Live From Japan DVD (Kedar Entertainment) Hey, didn't I just write about this? Oh, no,wait--this is the skinny Joe! Man, this is a tough gig!