It often strikes me that reading record reviews is a useless endeavor for anyone who has no idea where the writer's head is, as they say, "at."
In the simplest terms, if the writer hates everything you like, you should probably go for the music he hates!
Likewise, if the writer likes everything you hate, you should probably avoid everything he likes!
My palate? Completely cleansed! My head? Completely shaved! My taste? It has never been finer!
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, Pa., September 23, 1980 (Tuff Gong) If, like me, you sporadically revisit music you perhaps spent too much time once listening to, this latest release--a previously unheard live set by reggae icon Bob Marley & his crew--will be an enormously welcome arrival, featuring the singer at the height of his powers, singing many of the songs that made him an international superstar! In excellent voice, with his band in top form, Marley reveals himself to be a superb showman, expressing his love for both cheesesteaks and the Phillies--"Oh no, wait, mon," he jokes, "this isn't Baltimore!"--and appropriately closing the show with "Get Up Stand Up" as the Pittsburgh police raid the venue and ask stoned concertgoers to get out of their seats and empty their pockets! Life was cool in the '80s!
Ricky Martin: Musica + Alma + Sexo (Sony U.S. Latin) Many people--especially those who work at his label--have referred to this disc as "the most anticipated album of 2011," and why not? It's not often an international superstar slyly devotes an entire album to his favorite chain of L.A.-based Mexican restaurants, but let's face it: put the initials of Musica + Alma + Sexo together and you've got "Mas"--and wherever Mas goes, "Poquito" takes the lead! With a guest list including Joss Stone, Natalia Jimenez, and other people I've never heard of, Ricky has assembled an enervating batch of new material and, in celebratory fashion, has allowed himself to be photographed in his hotel room sheer seconds after being informed of its disturbing bedbug problem! In all, it's as exciting as a new album by Nas--with a spanking new first initial!
Red: Until We Have Faces (Red Int/Red Ink) If you've never heard of Red and thought "Until We Have Faces" was the name of a book by Philip Jose Farmer or someone--hell, it's been two weeks since I read any science fiction! You too?--you'll be stunned to learn that aside from being the color of both Communism and the face of Satan, Red is the name of a Christian rock 'n' roll band who apparently have sold oodles of records, were nominated for a Grammy or two, and per their lucrative record company deal, are heaven-bound! It's great! Among the upbeat numbers: "Watch You Crawl," "Buried Beneath," "Let It Burn" and "Feed The Machine"! In short: much like Pink, but..darker!
The JaneDear Girls: The JaneDear Girls (Reprise) It's long been maintained that a true appreciation of county music goes hand-in-hand with a similar appreciation of '50s fetish model Bettie Page--heck, I was just telling someone that at Rite-Aid yesterday--and this is how new country sweeties the JaneDear Girls win big! I mean, like...yikes! Excellent singers, superb players, and just the sort of gals you'd want to bring home to mother...if you wanted to make her cry! Simply put: Heartfelt harmonies, pleasant songcraft, and veiled promises of pleasure to come beats Reba McEntire any day of the week! Maybe even literally! I love this life!
Faust: Something Dirty (Bureau B) Longtime fans of the German pop music genre callously referred to as "krautrock"--clearly yet another show of strength by the frankfurter lobby--will be uber-pleased to note the arrival of this great new album by legendary '70s band Faust, who are back in slightly appended form, less abstract than was once the case, and have pieced together, as the album title implies, what might be a soundtrack to a less than G-rated movie! Completely charming? You bet! It's not only highly recommended, but--according to Amazon--most frequently purchased by those who bought the latest reissues by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan! Buy it or be left out next time you're sharing cocktails with an entire generation!
Various Artists:Thai? Dai! (B-Music) Every once in a while a completely mind-blowing album emerges, and this week it's Thai? Dai!, a brilliant collection of slightly strange music recorded in Thailand during the'70s that is, whether it wants to be or not, enormously psychedelic and appealing beyond belief! From Sroeng Santi's opening track "Kuen Kuen Luen Lueng," which one might call Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" gone bad if one didn't mind being redundant, to Jalwal, Annie & Geerasak's utterly stunning closer "Klug Tum La," which appears to be Chicago's "25 Or 6 To 4" as performed by the Satantic Dwarves Of Hell, every note on Thai? Dai! is a reaffirmation of the veritable glories of everyday existence--pushed forcibly into a blender and made to bleed for your pleasure! Check it out!
David Lowery: The Palace Guards (429) Hard to believe that this is officially the first solo album by Lowery, whose excellent work with both Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven was among the best American rock 'n' roll had to offer in the past two decades or so! This new set--which features a cast of musicians from both of Lowery's former bands as well as the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse--is every bit as adept and expertly played as Lowery's previous work, and the songs similarly as groovy! Maybe it was all a dream!
Motorhead: The World Is Yours (UDR) With a brand new movie upping his public profile higher than is the norm, Lemmy Kilmister is at the peak of his powers at the moment--and this new album by his band Motorhead couldn't be better! Featuring a batch of catchy, non-excessive songs of excess as well as a Live At Wacken 2006, a bonus DVD, this may be the finest Motorhead album since the last one! Buy it and watch your IQ visibly rise!
Bobby Long: A Winter Tale (ATO) A British dude who's moved Stateside, but not before contributing a song sung by actor Robert Pattinson on the Twilight soundtrack, Long is one of those thoughtful troubadour types who writes compelling songs, sings convincingly, is young and good looking, and features some interesting backing musicians on this, his debut studio album! Insiders say he has "a devoted fan base," which should help enormously should this summer be as hot as some predict!