Hello and welcome!
Apologies for being absent a week and a day, but I've justreturned from an exotic vacation to the east coast--where, tragically, my onlyconnection to the internet came via a colorful Dunkin' Donuts franchise, whichwas not exactly where I wanted to be at the precise time I'd normally bewriting last week's blog!
To compensate, I've therefore included two albums thatactually were released last week,rather than this week, and as a result, have made the title of this blog ahollow, empty lie rather than thesophisticated, descriptive tag for which it has been widely celebrated!
Still, considering that I spent part of last week attendingan actual clambake--that's right, aclambake--I'm quite sure that the trade-off will be regarded by all of us as well worth it!
Except for our friend the clam!
The Throne (KanyeWest & Jay Z): Watch The Throne(Universal Republic) The cliché has itthat first impressions are often the truest, and so it is that when I heardthat the joint project between hip-hop's reigning egotists was to be called theThrone, I envisioned a daring flash of self-awareness that would ultimatelyresult in an album cover featuring a tasteful portrait of an eleganttoilet--because, after all, isn't that what we call that thing?--and frankly, I'mstill not sure this album cover doesn't display precisely that! Cool! Still, Imay have been underestimating the hugely entertaining album that would result!Among the highlights--the stridently social-conscious "That's My Bitch," themorally soothing "Murder To Excellence," the stunningly titled "Welcome To TheJungle"--in all, it's a high-class project that recalls nothing if not The Prophet, the highly regarded 1974album featuring Richard Harris reciting verses by Kahlil Gibran--well, exceptfor maybe a crushed, rusty can of Dr. Pepper found on the side of a desertedroad, or a jar of Skippy peanut butter! Thankfully, per their request, we onlyhave to watch the Throne instead oflisten to them--and so far it hasn't moved an inch! Here's hoping!
Luke Bryan: Tailgates & Tanlines (CapitolNashville) Anyone who isn't hip torising country star Luke Bryan clearly hasn'tbeen forced to watch some dopey CMT special featuring the guy paired withthe Doobie Brothers a mere hour after attending a clambake in Massachusetts andnursing a hefty scotch last Sunday! But say that wasn't the case--and heck,why should it be?--one listen to this fab new record, and you'll surely besinging the praises of Bryan, who really doesn't seem to be watering down hisversion of country music, has an agreeable amount of facial hair, and has alarge hit on his hands with "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)." Admittedly, thathe's singing the tune to a Hooters waitress who's mixing up a special Dijon mustard dressingfor his quinoa & beets salad takes some of the "outlaw" out of his image,but a high carb-count is no laughing matter! Even Hank would agree!
Various Artists: Glee The 3D Concert Movie (Columbia) Certainly one of the week's most compellingreleases is this bold soundtrack to the new Glee3D movie--in which members of the celebrated TV show are randomly hurledinto various outtakes from other popular 3D movies and are forced to provetheir worth alongside the likes of the Smurfs, Yogi Bear, the cast of Cats Vs. Dogs 2, Jackass 3D, Resident EvilAfterlife 3D, and, most memorably, Piranha3D! As always, the cast's version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing"completely rules--how could it miss?--but the exciting versions of "Fat BottomedGirls," "Silly Love Songs" and "Born This Way" may make this the album of theyear! Yeah! Incidentally, that chick in Shrek Forever After is hot!
Steve Cropper: Dedicated (429) In a peculiar quirk,this great new album features an extremely talented musician--guitarist SteveCropper--paying tribute to another great musician--guitarist Lowman "Pete"Pauling of '50s R&B group the "5" Royales--and boasts a talented castincluding Steve Winwood, B.B. King, Bettye Lavette, and Lucinda Williams, amongothers, and appears to have been madepurely because it was a good idea! And it sounds great! What an incrediblegimmick! Hopefully someone else does something like this in the next few years!I'm thinking of maybe Katy Perry--if she's still a blonde--or maybe ChristinaAguilera! And now I'm thinking of a BigMac!
The Horrors: Skying (XL Recordings) A great thirdalbum from Brit band the Horrors, who aren't exactly offering groundbreakingwork here, but manage to put together a fine album of diverse tuneage, howeverretro it may be. Fans of the Psychedelic Furs, the Mission, and Southern Death Cult who haven'tlistened to a new album in ages will like this, and kids under 7 are bound todig it, too! That said, fans of Solomon Burke's I Almost Lost My Mind and IfYou Need Me probably won't like it at all--so whatever you do, don't let them hear it! Hey--that's apretty fresh approach for rock criticism! Maybe I will stay in this game!
Fountains Of Wayne:Sky Full Of Holes (Yep Rock) Releasedlast week, when I was ordering oarlocks and a rowboat plug from a smallMichigan firm rather than writing about it in a timely manner, this new FOWalbum was long in coming and--as expected--quite good. Intelligently penned, fullof catchy melodies, humorous but never overly snarky, Sky Full Of Holes is character-filled and a fine fifth album forAdam Schlesinger & Chris Collingwood--and very much worthy of yourattention. Buy it, give it many repeated listenings, and love it. Then thinkabout that law degree and the life you might have led!
Ximena Sariñana: XimenaSariñana (Warner Brothers) Released lastweek, when I was ordering "Mudslides" andbuying packs of cigarettes for my kids instead of writing this blog like Ishould have been doing, this fabulous album by Mexican singer Sariñana--herfirst mostly all-English set--is one of the year's better albums: arty, emotional, musically compelling, and clearly a harbinger of evenbetter things to come. Frankly, I fell for her ever since I saw her last albumcover! Imagine a world where really interesting people put out albums that are worthhearing more than once! Now imagine buying a boat and paying while you float!
The Motels: Apocalypso (Omnivore) Must confess tobeing a rapid fan of the first few Motels albums, mainly because I found themixture of catchy tunes, cynicism and sexuality unique for its time--late'70s-early '80s--and thought singer Martha Davis was going places few of hercontemporaries were. Thus am happy as the very clam mentioned above that thisrecord--their unreleased third album, which would later take shape, re-recorded,as part of the 1982 set All Four One--isfinally seeing the light of day. Had it been released, of course, it would haveinstantly zoomed to the top of the charts, changed the face of popular music aswe know it, and given all who purchased it thepower to fly upon the turn of the millennium--but of course it wasn't, itdidn't, popular music is now kind of dorky, only five people ever managedthat flying thing, and now they're all dead!The whole thing gives me the creeps!
Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising (CD/DVD) (Eagle) I wasn't lying a few weeks agowhen I said I was listening to the complete Deep Purple discography inchronological order, so imagine the joy I felt upon receiving this deluxeCD/DVD package, which features latter-day Purple--the less-celebrated versionfeaturing Tommy Bolin instead of Ritchie Blackmore--performing live in Japan andLong Beach, California, circa 1975-76! Though some of this is unremarkable--particularly Bolin's playing in Japan, which was less than stellar,shall we say--it will likely please Purple completists, and perhaps a few regular-coloredones as well!