They often say the most inspired writing is a product of stimulating surroundings--"they" in this case being some guys I met on a bus a few years ago--so be prepared for the most compelling blog you've ever read--courtesy of the wifi provided by the McDonald's at Biscayne Boulevard and NE 135th St. in North Miami, Florida!
And what a big week of new releases to be enjoyed! Between great DVD reissues like the classic T.A.M.I. Show movie, the new Bird & The Bee tribute to Hall & Oates, and the return of the immensely talented Justin Bieber, the talented Justin Bieber, or just simply Justin Bieber, depending on your outlook, this could be the greatest new release week since McDonald's unleashed their Caramel Iced Coffee!
If you're like me, you're lovin' it!
Duran Duran and Kajagoogoo. It was possible to be captivated by the songs of, say, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Marvin Gaye or Chuck Berry and actually have very little idea what each artist actually looked like, and it not mattering very much at all. For a generation, this famous film revealed all--from James Brown and the Rolling Stones to the Beach Boys and the Supremes, spotlighting each artist's unforgettable visual charisma and their considerable musical skills. One thing that's humorous in retrospect: Those of the MTV audience who tend to see this these days are often put off by the incessant audience screaming throughout all the performances, not realizing that that's simply the way things were those days, so just dig the fabness! The film print itself looks great, and it's a marvel it took this long for The T.A.M.I. Show to resurface. You won't want to miss this. The Bird And The Bee: Interpreting The Masters Vol 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates (Blue Note) A timely and fine collection of Hall & Oates covers by Inara George and Greg Kurstin--LA's splendid The Bird And The Bee--this set works on three levels: The songs themselves are immensely coverable and buried deep in our collective subconscious at this late date; the arrangements and performances are as creative as you'd expect from the inspired duo of Kurstin/George, and the fact that the band actually changed the planned name of this set--from Guiltless Pleasures to Interpreting The Masters--indicates how much classic '80s pop is slightly tainted from overexposure via MTV and other sources, so much so that to openly embrace it almost requires an acknowledgement of the "camp" aspect of it, which is in some ways depressing. Glad to see H&O getting their kudos while they're still around to enjoy them. She & Him: Volume Two (Merge) Speaking of couples, here's the second collaboration between actress Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward--whose prior set won praises from unexpected critical quarters and established the duo as a viable and intriguing new act. The new album continues along the same lines, with most songs composed by Deschanel except for one by Skeeter Davis as well as NRBQ's classic "Ridin' In My Car"--about as great a song as you can imagine--and it's all highly listenable. Well arranged, not hastily thrown together, and the product of a pair still finding their artistic legs, Volume Two is worth your time. Justin Bieber: My World 2.0 (Island) The return of the latest teen sensation, who's already made his mark with his original My World EP, this set features new single "Baby" and much more--and is likely to excite the scarily massive audience that has so far viewed the dude's YouTube videos over 100 million times and is apparently doing it of their own free will! Ready to flex in any artistic direction he needs to satisfy his fans, his label, and presumably himself, Bieber isn't the first and won't be the last to be sitting where he's sitting; whether he becomes a viable long term artist or simply this year's latest teen fling will be a function of his maintaining the quality of his work and, of course, our continued existence as humans! Goldfrapp: Head First (Mute) Less arty and more commercial, almost '80s dance-poppish, the latest album from the UK's Goldfrapp is a highly enjoyable affair--the highlights of which include the title track, "Rocket" and "Believer," though most other tracks are equally appealing. Speaking of Goldfrapp, have you tried a McDonald's Frappe--the newest and coolest McCafe item? Just asking! Paul Revere & The Raiders: The Complete Columbia Singles (Collector's Choice) Produced by one of the '60s better rock bands that many here have taken for granted--mostly because of their high visibility on Where The Action Is and other Dick Clark TV shows, I suppose--this 3-CD collection is a complete joy, as it provides a thorough look at the group during the four major phases of its existence: as a garage rock band ("Louie, Louie" and "Louie--Go Home"), as rock hitmakers ("Hungry," "Good Thing"), as fledgling album artists ("Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon," "Cinderella Sunshine") and as fading pop artists ("Indian Reservation," "Birds Of A Feather"). I myself prefer their third phase, but there's no denying there's enough good material here for almost any music fan. Considering the vastness of their recorded output, this all-singles anthology may even be the best place to start to grasp the breadth of it all. Recommended. Dave Holland Octet: Pathways (Dare2) Check out this excellent new disc from British jazz bassist Dave Holland, recorded with his regular group plus additional horns at New York's Birdland club. Bolstered with several compelling originals, some ultra-smart horn interplay and textures, and unrelenting, driving rhythm, it's one of the year's better jazz albums and a fine addition to Holland's distinguished album catalog. Bettie Serveert: PharmacyOf Love (Second Motion) Dutch band Bettie Serveert have returned, a new album in hand, older tracks like "Palomine" showing up on TV's Cold Case and in general reminding everybody that they continue to exist and that no, the past 15 years weren't all dreamt up by some old guy sleeping in the woods! Their music remains interesting, if not exactly extraordinary, and their Dutchness allows me to mention a performance I saw in Texas a few days ago when a non-native-English speaking band cheerfully opened up their set by waving hello and enthusiastically declaring, "Good night, Austin!" It was great! Snoop Dogg: More Malice (Priority) Featuring five new songs and a DVD bearing the"mini-movie" Malice N Wonderland, the new album by Snoop features guest appearances by Jay-Z and Kid Cudi and can apparently be heard by people who buy it and insert it into their CD players! What can he possibly do for a follow-up?
- Justin Bieber