What a great night to write a blog!
Only a few hours ago, costumed thugs skirmished on my very front porch, asking if they could take "a handful" of the Halloween candy thoughtfully offered in a large bowl resembling a jack o' lantern--and then taking way too much for such small hands!
Minutes later, I was on the phone for a late-night conference call with several participants in Bangalore, India, discussing the very future of this music site!
Between you and me, we all laughed uproariously!
Finally, I sat down to wrote this blog and realized that our wonderful record companies had sent only a fraction of what were likely to be this week's best-selling new releases! And how on earth could I write about new releases I've never heard?
So I decided to simply ignore the ones I don't care about and make jokes about the ones I still don't care about but it might be fun to make light of!
Like anyone could ever tell!
Justin Bieber: Under The Mistletoe (RBMG/Island) According to an informative blurb I just read, "In just two short years Justin Bieber has accumulated over 13 million Twitter followers, 36 million Facebook friends and 2.2 billion combined views on You Tube and VEVO"! Impressive as heck! And according to my calculations, from a sheer financial standpoint, that ought to bring him close to 15 dollars this year--if You Tube is still on the up and up! So to bring in some real money, why not make a Christmas album? One that features all of the season's biggest hits? And guest stars like Mariah Carey, Usher, The Band Perry, and immortal great Busta Rhymes? Brilliant! I'm thinking this may be one of the year's biggest records--and if "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "Silent Night" aren't next summer's hottest records, I'll eat my frickin' hat! The only thing that could possibly go wrong here would be if some news story came out that the dude wore women's jeans!
Lou Reed & Metallica: Lulu (Warner Bros.) You know, speaking as someone who's been a longtime fan of Lou Reed, and who's interviewed Metallica a bunch in the course of their career, I'd love to tell you something informative about this album--but unfortunately, their label hasn't seen fit to send Yahoo a copy! So I guess I'll just have to quote some of the reviews I've been reading! 1) "It's already been called the worst album of all time"! 2) "Lulu is a complete failure on every tangible and intangible level of its existence"! 3) "Lulu is an exercise in degredation. Run for your life"! 4) "Lou Reed's collaboration with Metallica is almost without merit"! And so on! I guess it's no good at all! Weird!
Miranda Lambert: Four The Record (Sony Nashville) I've always liked Miranda Lambert, and frankly any album cover that shows a dazed-looking woman emerging from a flaming automobile is certain to draw my attention! You too? The fourth album from the winning country singer is strong indeed--chockfull of powerful, well-played songs, strong in sentiment, gripping in delivery--and is likely to further cement her reputation as one of country music's very hottest stars! With her new single "Baggage Claim," a great new album with her side-group the Pistol Annies, and a career looking nowhere but upward, Ms. Lambert is now situated to own the very world--and perhaps sell it to another country for kicks! Wouldn't that be pivotal?
The Beach Boys: The Smile Sessions (Capitol/EMI) Like you, I breathe oxygen! Sorry, I lost my train of thought mid-sentence! Like you, I marvel at the peculiar plight of today's record companies who now find themselves at wit's end and are apparently issuing nearly anything they think has a snowball's chance in, well, you know, selling! The result? Occasionally great things--such as this massive boxed set of the fantastic sessions that were recorded in 1966 and 1967 and intended to produce the follow-up to Pet Sounds but never saw the light of day! Though they've been around in bastardized and much-bootlegged versions over the years, these recordings--which in this case includes 5 CDs, 2 LPs and 2 7" singles--are pretty much everything you'd ever want, and this box set is little short of completely marvelous! Fragments of familiar melodies, takes and retakes of brief passages that evolve in fascinating, clinically precise form, the songs are joyous, the album is a full-fledged event, and the entire box set is a testimonial to the inarguable genius of head Beach Boy Brian Wilson, whose grasp of music--in song, phrase, note, and harmony--remains unrivalled in its field. Buy this, put it on your iPod, hit shuffle, and get completely lost! In a manner of speaking!
The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones: All 6 Ed Sullivan Shows DVD (SOFA Entertainment) Thomas Wolfe once wrote a book called You Can't Go Home Again, but I'd be willing to bet he'd have changed his tune if 1) He grew up during the 1960s and 2) Bought a DVD player maybe 40 years later. Had he done so, he'd likely be wigging out over this fabulous DVD set which, as its title implies, collects every Ed Sullivan Show in which England's Newest Hitmakers ever appeared, and features such live performances as "Time Is On My Side" (1964), "The Last Time" (1965), "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1966), the famous "censored" hit "Let's Spend Some Time Together" (1967) and "Gimme Shelter" (1969). Alongside a batch of other great hits, a supporting cast that includes era sex gods Topo Gigio and Señor Wences alongside Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones, and Sullivan himself--a true favorite of the youngsters!--the talent on display here is jaw-dropping, historically relevant, and makes this one of the best releases of the year. Highly recommended.
U2: Achtung Baby (20th Anniversary Edition) (Island) As has been recently noted, Thomas Wolfe once wrote a book called You Can't Go Home Again, but I'd be willing to bet he'd have changed his tune if 1) He grew up during the 1960s and 2) Bought a CD player maybe 30 years later! Had he done so, he'd likely be wigging out over this fabulous box set which, as its title implies, is a "super deluxe" version of U2's highly successful Achtung Baby (1991) and Zooropa (1993) albums, and--depending on precisely how much money you may be willing to lay down, might include 6 CDs, 4 DVDs, and strategically hidden samples of all four band members' DNA! Cool! Actually a fine collection--excesses aside--the set includes B-sides, remixes, extended versions of several tracks and, wonder of wonders, makes the whole affair sound more impressive than it might've back in the early '90s, when U2 were following up the Joshua Tree hubbub and focusing on becoming the biggest band in the world. Dudes! I like it just fine--especially Disc 4, track 6, Disc 5, track 2, and Disc 6, track 9! And you can quote me!
Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead Movie Blu-Ray DVD (Shout! Factory) With the passing of Jerry Garcia, and the story of the Grateful Dead now taking on near-mythological proportions, what's out there for the next generation--aside from 100,000 hours of live concert tapes and 30 million box sets? Well, for those who'd prefer to witness history in a format that includes both audio and video, here's a timely solution: Shout Factory's new deluxe Blu-Ray packaging of the 1977 Grateful Dead Movie, which showcases the band's five shows at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom in October 1974, features an additional DVD of bonus footage and unreleased performances, and pretty much depicts what the band--and the lifestyle--was like way back when. I'm of the sort that prefers the band up-to-and-including 1969's Live Dead--really an earlier era--but I wouldn't dream of knocking this package as a document of a very special band doing their thing, very specially. Do check it out.
Placebo: We Come In Pieces DVD (Eagle Rock) While we're talking interesting DVDs, it's worth noting the release of this set, by the fascinating and, by my count, still underrated multi-national group Placebo--who are captured onstage here in London in September 2010 and run through 20 songs or so, all of which are hook-filled, mildly abrasive, and the sort of things that, if you're a fan, sound best in the live format. Featured tracks include "Nancy Boy," "Taste In Men," and "Kitty Litter"--but sadly missing is their all-time classic "36 Degrees." Buy this, buy their first album, and then--hey, why not?--go on Amazon and buy my book! Just a thought!
Journey: Greatest Hits 2 (Columbia/Legacy) The follow-up to Journey's enormously successful Greatest Hits, this new set features additional greatest hits! There are 17 of them and--as they say--they rock like a mutha! Could it be that I--and many other writers like me--have tragically misjudged the band over the years? (significant pause) Yes! It was a colossal mistake! One I'll never make again! Please accept my apologies!