New albums by Eminem and Miley Cyrus?
Clearly, all's right with the world!
This is one of those good weeks when I make a list of "likely prospects"--albums I might draw your attention to if I so desire--and decide, after maybe 16 or so, there's no point in listing any more! It must mean the music business is healthier than ever! It's back on its feet, and so are we!
And to confirm your faith in my ability to single out today's most relevant and happening new music, let me share this: At this very moment, the computer on my left is ripping the complete works of Latin percussionist Pancho Sanchez, while the computer on my right is recording the last three vinyl albums produced by rockers Orleans before they were forbidden to make any more!
I tell you this for one reason alone: That I would do both of these things simultaneously, on two separate computers--capturing for all eternity the complete works of artists I don't really care about--while writing this blog on yet a third, indicates that my critical acumen has never been sharper in my entire life! Thus, when I tell you that an album has a really cool cover, you can bet it really does!
Read on and learn!
(Shady/Aftermath) I think we're all pleased, and feeling kind of warm inside, that clever and charismatic rapper Eminem is back again, offering up a heady batch of cutting and incisive raps about life as he sees it! Still, time moves on, and the biggest question may be whether his once-hip audience is ready to make the same leap lovable Em' has: A complete album dedicated to the federal government's recovery plan, song after song exploring the nuances of inflation, deficits, the economic troubles of China and California's problematic Proposition 13--now nearly bankrupting the state! It may be bit much
for those of us seeking the usual zany cast of characters including troubled women, his loudmouthed kid, guys with guns and lots of swear words! Additionally, the cover pic--illustrating the frustrated rapper walking back home from Windsor, Ontario, after miscalculating the cost of an imperial gallon of gas and, sadly, running out--may be too
heart-wrenching for those of trying to seriously
figure out what the deal is with this guy and Mariah Carey
! Let's just call it another masterpiece and move on!
Not Afraid - Eminem
: Can't Be Tamed
(Hollywood) In many ways like Eminem--a hominid, the focus of much press attention, a recording artist, etc.--Miley Cyrus straight out beats the famous Detroit rapper where it really counts: She's much
better looking! Plus, Eminem wouldn't have the sheer audacity to record a cover version of Poison's
all-time classic "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"--but Miley does and makes it her own!
A great CD/DVD combo that features the fetching young singer live at London's O2 Arena--a deluxe venue ventilated with actual oxygen--this set is pretty much where Miley says goodbye to her prior career as a teen idol and welcomes a life of maturity--unfolding before her and promising a few glorious decades before age inevitably sets in and her focus shifts to retirement issues, a stock portfolio too heavily weighted toward the petroleum and tobacco sectors, and player haters! With Can't Be Tamed
, Miley Cyrus enters the lion's den and comes up--as always--ripping the hearts out of all
Can't Be Tamed - Miley Cyrus
(Epic) Though I was never the biggest fan of Black Sabbath
--it comes with the territory if you're of a certain age--I have come to love all that they stand for and, expecially, have a growing fondness in my heart for singer Ozzy Osbourne, who has taken life's lemons and devised the sweetest lemonade imaginable! His latest album--his first in three years and tenth studio album overall--rocks in the manner you may have come to expect, largely assisted by a lead guitarist bearing one of the most charismatic names in all of rock history--one "Gus G
."--and fabulous tunes such as "I Love You All" and "Let Me Hear You Scream"! A good-hearted fellow who deserves our love and attention, Ozzy is clearly as puzzled by this life as all
of us are!
I Love You All - Ozzy Osbourne
: The Imagine Project
(Hancock) Those taken with jazz pianist Hancock's last album--the Grammy-winning Joni: The River Letters
--will find much to enjoy here on his latest project, yet another "hybrid" collaborative effort, which features guest artists such as Jeff Beck
, Dave Matthews
, the Chieftains
, John Legend
, India Arie
, Daniel Boone and
Davy Crockett, Wayne Shorter
and the entire population of Tahiti! A wholly well-intentioned effort focusing on the notions of "peace" and "global responsibility," The Imagine Project
is top-notch musically, a bit of a grab bag, and somewhat reminiscent of a snail in its cover design! Like that Miley Cyrus thing, without the DVD!
Cyndi Lauper: Memphis Blues
(Downtown) Prior to her days as a hitmaking solo artist in the early '80s with "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," Cyndi Lauper made a name for herself as a powerhouse singer with a rock 'n' roll band named Blue Angel
. Unfortunately, with MTV being the cultural phenomenon it would become, her vocal abilities were soon overshadowed by her clothes and apparent kookiness, and her artistic lifespan took the same hit that shortchanged every other MTV star. Result? Most people look at her as an oldies act. Yet she's really a terrific singer, and this unexpected album--a blues/R&B set featuring people like Allen Toussaint
, Charlie Musselwhite
, Jonny Lang
and even Ann Peebles
--is genuinely good, artful, and filled with superb singing by Lauper, who's never really lost her vocal touch. In short: She must be nuts!
Just Your Fool featuring Charlie Musselwhite - Cyndi Lauper
(Liquid Tambourine) The surfin' dude who's good friends with Jack Johnson
here re-records his 2004 self-titled album, this time with "traditional Hawaiian instruments" guaranteed to please those who like slack-key guitar and ukeleles! It's a very mellow affair, as one would expect from these artist types who pray to the sun and the moon, and an interesting experiment: Perhaps in the future he'll move to Germany and record the same album in German beer hall style, then move on to the inevitable Tuvan throat singing interpretation today's swinging sophisticates really
crave! This never would've happened if his parents spelled his name right!
Free - Donavon Frankenreiter
Emerson Lake & Palmer
: Live At Montreux 1997
[Blu-Ray] (Eagle) Have to admit that it may be more fun to avoid crummy stadium shows and crowded amphitheatres and expensive drinks and expensive parking and simply stay at home and watch stuff like this--a Blu-Ray concert by art-rockers ELP that features superlative sound, the ability to put everything on pause and go to the bathroom or the refrigerator, and essentially be provided the best seat in the house! Here the briefly reunited trio run through nearly all their best-known work, display the dazzling showmanship/excess for which they've become known, and allow us to see--thanks to the high-def picture--grown men with abnormally hairy upper arms and droplets of sweat dangling from their noses! Was a big fan of Emerson's old band the Nice
and I'll always be happy watching him run through "Rondo," so God bless him! Pretend it's indie rock and everything will be fine!
The Lotus Eaters
: No Sense Of Sin
(Cherry Red import) One of the year's highlights--let alone the week's--is this new reissue of the sole 1984 album by Liverpool band the Lotus Eaters, an accessible but delightfully odd pop group with an impeccable sense of melody and strangely humanist, philosophical lyrics that some might say verge on the "overly romantic." They're great! Actually one of my very favorite albums of all time, the set is bolstered by a batch of bonus tracks--12-inch singles, etc.--that makes it simply better than nearly anything else you'll ever hear! Buy this instead of any of these other
dopey records and there'll be no need
to follow those new government guidelines about how much meat and seafood to eat!
Terry Knight & The Pack
: Terry Knight & The Pack / Reflections
(Cameo Parkway/ABKCO/Collector's Choice) Speaking as a human who spent 15 years living in Michigan and is overly familiar with Oldsmobile manufacturing plants, I am thrilled to report that the long-lost Cameo Parkway catalog is finally becoming available on CD, and this set is one of the welcome results! Great--well, pretty good, really--mid-'60s garage rock out of Flint, featuring some soon-to-be-famous Grand Funk
people as well as singer Knight himself, who'd soon be making headlines as the latter band's opinionated, pretty funny manager! Loaded with culturally fascinating stuff such as "I (Who Have Nothing)," a cover of "You're A Better Man Than I" and the eloquent "Love Goddess Of the Sunset Strip," this collection now represents the last records that ever need be reissued
, so it's all downhill from here! I'm lovin' it!
I (Who Have Nothing) - Terry Knight And The Pack
Sia: We Are Born
(Monkey Puzzle/Jive) Australian-born Sia--who apparently dropped that troublesome "Later" surname--is fascinating, talented, creative, and prone to painting her face and sticking funny-looking dots on it! And aren't we all! A fine album, this comes highly recommended--so please, enjoy it before its inevitable follow-up And Then We All Die
arrives and, frankly, bums us all out royally! Silly Australia!
The Fight - Sia
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