In many ways, pop culture superstar Barbra Streisand and celebrated rapper The Game are alike!
For starters, they both are releasing new albums this week!
Secondly, they both tend to receive significant press coverage now and again--especially, in the Game's case, exactly when he's about to release a new album!
And perhaps most importantly, according to respected retail sources around the country, fans of Barbra Streisand are extremely vocal about their affection for The Game and vice-versa!
"As far as I can see," said one reputable source, "every person who's ever come in here looking for a Barbra Streisand album hasn't left without buying a Game album as well!"
Adds another respected music wholesaler: "Hip-hop and MOR have never been closer--not only as far as a common customer base, but as far as fan identification as well! The number of people who are buying both the new Throne album and Celine Dion's latest set would blow your mind!"
Both sources laughed when asked if they found anything odd in that seemingly unusual pairing of disparate musical styles. "Get lost, buddy," said the wholesaler; "It all sounds the same to me," added the other source. Later, both parties were seen enjoying a heady batch of shrimp creole at a celebrated Los Angeles restaurant and passing 50-dollar bills to each other! Several unnamed patrons seated nearby noted that a sound resembling "loud cackling" could be heard with alarming frequency!
Game: The R.E.D. Album (Interscope) As we all know, red is the color that denotes both anger and blushing--and Lord knows how appropriate that is in the case of The Game, whose recent Twitter hijinks brought him significant publicity precisely when he was about to release a new album! How odd! But why be cynical? There's every reason in the world to assume The Game might be blushing at this surprisingly revealing new album--in which he's corralled a dozen adolescent schoolgirls and asked them to individually guess what his very favorite "game" of all time is! Among the better guesses: Parcheesi, Hopscotch, Monopoly. Hide And Go Seek, Stratego, Strip Poker (!), Bingo, and cult Milton Bradley favorite Shenanigans! The Game's stunning revelation at album's end--that he is a lifelong devotee of Twister and nothing will ever change his mind--is precisely the jarring jaw-dropper that continues to make him the most fascinating rapper to be named after a noun ever!
Barbra Streisand: What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman (Columbia) A new album by Barbra Streisand is one thing; a new album by Barbra Streisand singing the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman is yet another. And a new album by Barbra Streisand singing the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman hurled into the upper atmosphere at a velocity approaching the speed of light is yet still another! I'm not the sort of writer who takes pleasure in quoting other, better, reviewers, but it may be worth mentioning that when nearby aliens who were cruising by the planet Earth in a spaceship and noticed the hurled album and pulled it into their ship and played it instantly then flew down to earth and returned the album to Wal-Mart, their only comment--that opening track "The Windmills Of Your Mind" somehow "didn't ring true" and they wanted a refund--the chick from Wal-Mart only said "Sure thing" and didn't even ask for a receipt!
Rockpile: Live At Montreux 1980 (Eagle Rock) I don't know about you, but I haven't heard any Rockpile music for a few years or so--and this new set, recorded over 30 years ago, sounds frickin' great! The white-hot Brit combo, which featured Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams at the height of the early '80s punk/new wave/Britpop frenzy, really only recorded one "official" album--Seconds Of Pleasure it was called, and fine it was--but the group itself, showcased on the many Lowe and Edmunds albums of the time, were highly skilled, excessively lubricated, and boldly rocking in a manner that few other combos of the time could approach. This set features a boatload of familiar tracks--"Switchboard Susan," "I Knew The Bride," "Crawling From The Wreckage" "I Hear You Knocking"--all of which are finely played, zesty, and the sort of thing that sounds even better, not worse, with time! Kind of like Seals and Crofts!
Black Tide: Post Mortem (Interscope) A fabulous hard rock/heavy metal band from Miami--where many of today's most celebrated and sophisticated celebrities often come from--Black Tide rock it hard and heavy here on their second Interscope album! The band, who unpredictably have devoted their entire career to decrying the mass commercialization that in their view has corrupted contemporary society--even to the point of aggressively slagging a well respected laundry detergent in their band name--now take on breakfast cereal giants Post, declaring Grape-Nuts, Fruity Pebbles, Alpha-Bits and Honeycomb less than perfect and, most controversially, brazenly stating that Shredded Wheat often gets soggy in milk much too quickly! Like Black Sabbath and, to a lesser extent, Judas Priest, the band kicks ass, takes names, and--need it be said in this wacky 21st century?--clips coupons with the best of 'em!
Sunny Sweeney: Concrete (Republic Nashville) A fine new country-oriented singer/songwriter from East Texas, Sunny Sweeney's got a few good singles here--namely "Drink Myself Single" and "Staying's Worse Than Leaving"--an excellent voice, a warm and winning personality, and the spunk, stamina and drive she'll surely need to make it to the top of this fierce, dog-eat-dog business! Additionally, she's a blonde! Hopefully she'll therefore never realize that some writers try to pile as many clichés as they possibly can in one sentence when they are otherwise distracted by listening to loud British jazz-fusion in order to take up space so this review looks just like all the other ones here unless you actually read it!
Stephanie Mills: Feel The Fire: The 20th Century Collection (Hip-O Select) A welcome reissue sure to be received warmly by fans of late '70s-early '80s R&B, this 2-CD set collects the three albums that former Wiz star Stephanie Mills recorded for 20th Century Fox Records during that time--and they're loaded with catchy, expertly played tunes produced by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, including hits "Never Knew Love Like This Before," "Feel The Fire," "Sweet Sensation," and the Teddy Pendergrass duet "Two Hearts." It all still sounds great--and I only wish my memories weren't marred by a former co-worker who often noted that Mills's head looked like it was too big for her body! Come to think of it, another co-worker said the same thing about Little Richard and Conan O'Brien! What the heck is up with this "big head" thing?
Dave Stewart: The Blackbird Diaries (Weapons Of Mass Entertainment) I'm inclined to give former Eurythmics dude Dave Stewart the benefit of every doubt: He's a good guy, he's been involved with interesting bands way back since his early days with Longdancer on Rocket Records, the early Eurythmics recorded with Can's Holger Czukay, his Anxious Records label later featured some really cool artists and...and...for the life of me, as famous as he may be, what with his new Mick Jagger/Joss Stone band, and his massive catalog of hits, I couldn't begin to tell you a single thing about what I perceived to be his musical style! It's like--is he Transparent Man or what? Don't take this the wrong way--this is actually a fine album, no lie! But when I was playing it, I actually forgot who it was! By the way, have you seen my car keys?
Patti Smith: Outside Society: Looking Back 1975-2007 (Columbia/Arista/Legacy) A worthy collection that concisely spells out all that's been interesting in Patti Smith's career as a recording artist; had it included her earlier single "Piss Factory" this might be all you'd ever need to get a sense of what she's all about. But in this easily digestible form, tracks like "Gloria," "Free Money," "Dancing Barefoot," "Frederick" and "Because The Night" leap right out and sound just like what they are: great pop songs. And as artistic statements go, that works just fine for me!
Bobby Charles: Bobby Charles (Rhino Handmade) On the heels of their great Bradley's Barn reissue comes Rhino Handmade's enormously worthy deluxe treatment of Bobby Charles' long-lost 1972 Bearsville album--an unsung classic featuring an incredible cast including the Band, Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Ben Keith & Amos Garrett among others, and a batch of spectacular songs, all of which sound better than ever nearly 40 years later. Offering up the original album, unreleased material from the same sessions, and an interesting audio interview over 3 CDs, it's a record that for once actually deserves the royal treatment--and kudos to Rhino for making that happen. More details here, but do check this one out!
Goodnight Keith Moon: A Parody by Bruce Worden and Clare Cross (Word Of Mouth Books) In the tradition of Go the F**k to Sleep, I suppose, in that you'd have to have intriguing parenting skills if you actually read the thing to your kids, comes this very odd--funny, but odd--parody of a famous children's book that you'll more than likely buy and leave on your coffee table for all to see--except for, hopefully, your kids!