There are certain inescapable times when, if you're like me, you feel completely at one with music!
And at the moment, I'm having a near-peak experience!
As I write this, I just finished listening to Vanity Fare's 1970 hit "Early In The Morning"--and even now the adrenalin buzz lingers! And simultaneously--on the computer on my immediate left--I just finished ripping the 1996 Varese Sarabande compilation John Travolta Sings!
Finally, and I ask you to put yourself in my shoes, I am preparing to soon construct an actual sentence about the Black Label Society! The catch? It may need a verb!
Black Label Society: Order Of The Black (E1 Music) Often it seems that the biggest stories of all in this exciting world of rock 'n' roll are the ones going on under our very noses of which we are completely oblivious! For example, did you know that slowly but surely, this lovable batch of hard rockers--whose self-proclaimed mantra is "Strength, Determination, Merciless, Forever"--is amassing an admirable following of music lovers more than eager to put their money where the mouth is and actually buy this new record? Heck, I didn't! I keep getting hung up in the part of Zakk Wylde's bio that reads "In the two decades since Ozzy Osbourne hired him away from his job at a New Jersey gas station to become his new guitarist"! It's, like, the all-time greatest sentence beginning in history! "The price of hot dogs has tripled!" "Many people have died!" "Troubles in the Middle East continue!" "Someone has eaten shoe polish!" "The music business has methodically crawled up its own backside and is now paying the price!" I mean, this could be the longest record review in history! It already is the longest record!
Original Soundtrack: Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam (Walt Disney Records) It is admittedly a grizzly theme for a Disney production, but so be it! A group of once spry, young and sexy teens who develop a deep friendship while in summer camp split up, enter into adulthood, get rich, poor, fat, skinny, gray, wrinkled, depressed or unexpectedly religious, then 50 full years later are invited to their former campground to compare notes, see how life has treated them all, and perhaps relive the same past which once brought them all together! I won't reveal the surprise ending--what actually happens during the final jam--but it wouldn't be cheating to mention at least a few mushroom clouds are involved! Featuring Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, and the godlike Iron Weasel! This rocks!
Blake Shelton: All About Tonight (Warner Music Nashville) The latest set from country star Blake Shelton is referred to as a Six Pak--which makes sense both because there are six songs on the thing, and the nutty vet from True Blood he looks like actually works at a bar! Along with the stirring title track and "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking," the set is highlighted by "Draggin' The River," featuring the excellent Miranda Lambert, and shows Shelton to be a genuine performer with an enviable grasp of his growing audience! That said, the title track does lose some appeal after 24 hours or so!
Eli "Paperboy" Reed: Come And Get It! (Capitol) There's a fine line between out-and-out revivalism and, as the cliché would have it, bringing something new to the table--and young Eli "Paperboy" Reed, who excels at evoking classic R&B and soul sounds of the late '60s-early '70s, has a genuine spark that makes this new album sound thoroughly modern throughout! A sharp songwriter, a compelling live performer, and an artist very much on the rise, Reed would be perfect were he only made of flesh and blood rather than, tragically, paper! But what can you do?
Tony Joe White: That On The Road Look "Live" (Rhino Handmade) Speaking of artists who have it all, legendary Tony Joe White--he of the swamp, of "Polk Salad Annie" and late '60s-early '70s performing fame, '80s producing fame and more--is captured here in his prime and presented handsomely via the custom Rhino Handmade label, who have released this '71 live set in a limited edition and done the music world a service indeed! Though in the scheme of things he may have met his just rewards--his songs covered by icons, producing people like Tina Turner, etc.--performances like the one captured here are really what the whole thing is all about! Coming soon and available here!
Calibro 35: Ritornano Quelli Di... (Nublu) I have been fascinated by Italian exploitation movies for way too many years--horror, police, giallos, etc.--and if they have anything in common at all, aside from sex, blood, black gloves and knives, it is the fabulous music--which also drives modern-day Italian combo Calibro 35, who return here with a wonderful second album. With a mixture of originals and covers--the highlight of which is the theme from Mario Bava's Five Dolls For An August Moon--the group combines jazz, funk, and art rock in a manner nearly as appealing as the original films they strive to evoke! Great stuff, fab cover, buy it!
Nils Lofgren: Cry Tough DVD (Rockpalast/Eagle Vision) Though to a certain generation Nils Lofgren may be best known for his onstage work with Bruce Springsteen, there are many who know him to be a dazzling performer in his own right. This double-DVD set makes the case to the point of near-excess, welcome though it is, as it contains 252 minutes of the man playing onstage on Germany's Rockpalast TV show--via three sets from 1976, 1979 and 1991! And while there's some repetition here as a result--multiple versions of "Keith Don't Go," "Cry Tough" and "Back It Up," say--the '70's sets capture him clearly in his prime and for fans will be invaluable. A generous collection, and a welcome reminder that Lofgren has rock 'n' roll credentials up the pint-sized wazoo!
Original Soundtrack: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (ABKCO) In a world of very hip rock 'n' roll soundtracks it may be hard to top this entry, which features new material by Beck--recording as Sex Bob-Omb--as well as Beachwood Sparks, Broken Social Scene, Metric and (check out the record label) newcomers the Rolling Stones, whose "Under My Thumb" is stunningly sexist! No point in mentioning the film's surprise ending--in which Scott Pilgrim conquers the world and then, abruptly, eats it!
The Who: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 (Eagle) This commendable live recording by the Who--playing most of Tommy at the historic Isle Of Wight fest--captures them at a vital point in their career and is certainly more than satisfactory. But its existence, along with the band's earlier Live At Leeds set, renders the likelihood of the release of yet another live set, one that might feature performances from their contemporary all-time classic The Who Sell Out, virtually nil! So what's up with that?
Mike Posner: 31 Minutes To Takeoff (J Records) Recent requirements that today's newest pop stars have a shelf life of only 72 hours haven't got Mike Posner worried in the slightest! Sharp dude!