The first fruit of the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) suggested truth in labeling law appears to have surfaced in many of this week's newest releases--and while most consumer advocates are indeed gratified, the results may puzzle some.
From all indications, many artists felt the proposed law covered only their new album's title and little else.
As a result, many of the week's latest discs bear revealingly candid monikers. Among the most notable: The Elephant In The Room by hefty rapper Fat Joe, The Unfairground by UK cult figure Kevin Ayers, an artist many critics hold to be tragically underrated, Dreaming Of Revenge by onetime major label/now indie artist Kaki King, and--perhaps most refreshingly--Ego Trippin' by well-known rapper Snoop Dogg.
Some sources contend that potential penalties for artists who defy the new truth in labeling rule may be embarrassing for all parties. "We heard that Rick Ross actually wanted to call his new album Thriller to cop some of the sales of that Michael Jackson reissue," confided one source. "So we changed it to Trilla just to make him mad. It was great!"
No music retailers could be contacted for confirmation of the above, but it still sounds plausible!
Snoop Dogg: Ego Trippin' (Doggystyle) Have to admit I'm spoiled a bit here when it comes to Snoop. Many of us here saw the dude himself performing much of the music here for our Nissan Live Sets program--which you should be able to check out around here this Friday--and he was great! His new album features Teddy Riley, DJ Quik, Raphael Saadiq, the Neptunes, a cover of the Time's "Cool" and an unexpected nod to Johnny Cash called "My Medicine." The best Snoop album of 2008? You bet! Ideally he'll be elected president this November, we'll all get fancy cars, and everyone will get to sleep in from now on!
Kaki King: Dreaming Of Revenge (Velour) Always an extremely talented guitarist, Ms. King returns here with her best album to date, though it doesn't talk much. With superb production by Malcolm Burn and a batch of moody, thoughtful songs, Dreaming Of Revenge is a big step up for King, who's already enjoyed high visibility this year with guest stints on the recent Foo Fighters album and her work on the films Into The Wild and August Rush. If her business advisor had any brains, he'd tell her she could make a bundle designing Kaki pants!
Various Artists: Now That's What I Call Music Vol. 27 (Sony) With all this talk of declining album sales, here's proof that great albums still exist! Featuring top hits by Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, Fergie, Jordin Sparks, Alicia Keys, Sean Kingston, J. Holiday and 12 others, there's not a speck of dross to be had here! It's all meat! Luckily, since all of the above artists are noted for their work as serious album makers, fans can let this serve as a "sampler" and then proceed to buy all 20 individual albums by all these great artists! Then they can fly to Greenland on their private jets and watch the ice melt!
Kevin Ayers: The Unfairground (Gigantic) "The first new album in many years from Soft Machine co-founder Ayers is one of the year's very best albums--in some ways as unique as his earliest recordings for Harvest Records back in the day. That day, of course, was March 19, 1973, and what a fantastic day it was! Featuring the expected stellar cast of musicians--Hugh Hopper, Phil Manzanera, newer dudes Teenage Fanclub and Ladybug Transistor, and a wonderful appearance by Brit folk singer and old friend Bridget St. John--The Unfairground is filled with superior songs, diverse and intriguing arrangements, and the unique vocals of Ayers, who at this late date is giving Leonard Cohen competition in the lower bass range." Hey, I wrote all that last September and it's still true!
Junkie XL: Booming Back At You (Artwerk Music/Nettwerk) Know to his bio writers as "superstar DJ/producer" Junkie XL--but to his old Dutch school friends as Li'l Tommy Holkenborg--Mr. XL made headlines a while back for his remix of Elvis's "A Little Less Conversation," which hit No. 1 in 24 countries and finally made Presley a household name! Now he's on a record label created by a video game company, and more power to him says the world! Featuring a cover version of Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Cities In Dust," this album is all you ever hoped for back when you played your first game of Pac-Man. But it probably costs more than you thought it would!
Rick Ross: Trilla (Def Jam) With a superstar line-up including Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, R.Kelly, Andre 3000, Pharrell and T-Pain, and a bonus appearance by Rick Ross himself, Trilla seems likely to sell a bundle and make every participant wildly rich beyond their dreams! No, actually, this should really sell quite a bit. At least more than 100,000! But like millions of others around the world, I only hope that Ricky Ross--onetime singer of Scottish pop band Deacon Blue and later solo artist--doesn't eventually find all his own albums gradually misfiled in this guy's section at CD stores, as that would likely be a bummer!
Various Artists: Randy Jackson's Music Club, Volume One (Dream Merchant 21/Concord) Everybody's favorite non-female American Idol judge Jackson has of course long been a fixture in the music industry--so what better way to say thank you to America than this? A guest-filled delight including Mariah Carey, Joss Stone, Katherine McPhee, Elliot Yamin, Jason Mraz, Richie Sambora, Sam Moore, and the wonderful Paula Abdul, this Music Club is surely one all of America will be queuing to join! Especially the part of America that thinks the word "queuing" is inappropriate slang! I haven't been this impressed since that day MC Skat Kat played me his unreleased "concept album"!
The Diggs: ctrl-alt-del (Sugarspun) Can't say I approached this album with any high level of expectation--I mean, doesn't "dig" have one "g" in it?--but I'm happy to report this is a great listen through and through, and you should purchase it. This Brooklyn-based trio have melody and songwriting chops to spare--and that's just in their refrigerator!
Fat Joe: The Elephant In The Room (Imperial) Any album that features guests like Diddy, Rick Ross and Fabolous has to be by Fat Joe, especially if it's released this week! Must confess I haven't heard it yet, so given the title track, one assumes FJ is either speaking figuratively, has produced an album about an unfortunate safari, or is finally making the long-awaited anti-Republican statement we all knew he had in him! I'm rooting for choice one!
The Vines: The Best Of The Vines (Capitol) According to the wonderful allmusic site, Australia's Vines were "quickly compared to Nirvana while being thrown into the swarm of impacting acts like the Hives, Haven, and Doves." Meanwhile, The Letter V drove through town in his new Rolls Royce, cackling madly at the subtlety of his evil work!