Sorry I'm a little late with this week's exciting blog, but--if I may share a little personal information--I forgot to pay my Internet bill last month and couldn't write it!
But wait, you say--how could access to the Internet affect this guy writing his blog? Couldn't he just write it at home and then bring it in to work and post it there?
Hah! How can I write intelligently about music without finding out what everybody else thinks?
Lily Allen: It's Not You, It's Me (Capitol) Everyone's favorite Popular Female British Singer of a few months back returns with her second album in her dutiful quest to become everyone's favorite Popular British Singer for the next few months, and the big question is: Can she pull it off? I say yes! This is an upbeat, personality-filled album greatly aided by American producer Greg Kurstin--the onetime Geggy Tah member who's also doing marvelous work with his duo the Bird & The Bee--and Ms. Allen seems so charming, sassy and colorful, who can resist her enticing personality? I'm especially taken with her upbeat track "F**k You"--a song that's been long in coming, I'm sure you'll agree--and am particularly curious how it will sound on the "CLEAN" version of this album, also available in fine stores and thus absolutely OK to buy for minors of all shapes and sizes! Once it tops the charts, everyone will be singing it! Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique--20th Anniversary Edition (Capitol) Yes, it's hard to believe 20 years have passed since this groundbreaking album was released! So much has happened since then! We got older! But the record that set the stage for a million careers is back, it's digitally remastered, it's available in regular, deluxe, Fine Fine Supafine Collectors' Editions, and generally all over the place on the Internet at the moment. I suggest you go here to get the whole story, including a free track-by-track audio commentary, user photos, blogs, factoids, and everything else that makes the Internet (and music itself) fantastic when you pay your bills on time! Check it out today. As a special bonus: It's pretty good! India.Arie: Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics (Motown) A very welcome return from Ms. Arie, who with a select few others--most conspicuously Erykah Badu, who's also into this whole Volume 1/Volume 2 business--is taking contemporary R&B into warm and sophisticated 21st Century places and sounding better with each new album. Guests include Musiq Soulchild, veteran MC Lyte, and the intriguingly named Gramps Morgan--and the overall lyrical content, as is this artist's norm, is uplifting, captivating and enlightening. Sort of like those commercials she's been in, but with better music! Buddy Holly: Memorial Collection (Geffen) The only upside of Buddy Holly's premature demise 50 years ago--and admittedly, there are few upsides--is that the bulk of his extraordinary recording career can be manageably contained within a limited number of CD sides. This three-disc set contains his best-known material--and so well known is that material, it's likely almost any contemporary teenager will recognize at least a few of these tracks: "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be The Day," "Rave On," "Not Fade Away, and "It's So Easy" are just a fraction of the 60 tracks to be had here. Still, though it's tempting, I wouldn't recommend buying this for the easily influenced kids in your household, telling them, "Weezer have really gone all out with this one," and then looking through their drawers and private papers while they're obliviously listening to their new present! Too bad about that glasses thing! Jon Hassell: Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street (ECM) Yet another album bearing this ubiquitous title, avant-trumpter Hassell's latest continues in the tradition of his previously non-traditional recordings with--in the world o' avant-rock--people like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel--and is thus a smooth, otherworldly listen throughout all of its 10 tracks. Word is the man's about to tour the US for the first time in 20 years, so make it a point to see him if you have the inclination. Perhaps you'll meet the person who noted on this album's Amazon page, "I wish the title realized the Moon is feminine"! Don't we all, babe! Joni Mitchell: Joni Mitchell's The Fiddle And The Drum (DVD) (Koch Vision) It may be hard to believe, but in my distinguished career as a music journalist and documenter of all things of great cultural import, I have rarely attended the ballet! Imagine the shame I would feel if some of my closest friends walked into my living room last week and saw me watching this DVD--which features the music of Joni Mitchell and a bunch of people dancing in leotards! But I admire Ms. Mitchell's music greatly, not to mention her considerable skill as a painter, and if she calls what's contained here "the best project of her career," who am I to do anything but sit reverently on my couch and watch it? And yeah, OK, so maybe I did knit a little while it was on, but if I hadn't, I would've knocked back a half-dozen wine coolers! Ryan Leslie: Ryan Leslie (Next Selection/Bad Boy) The maker of "Diamond Girl" who apparently scored 1600 on his SATs but somehow forgot that Seals and Crofts had a hit of the same name, who has pointed out "They try to put me in a box--it's impossible!" without specifically pointing out who "they" are--are they the people who casually note that both his first and last names are gender-neutral?--and the man who, after a reputable career as a producer, is now emerging with his very first solo album is, uh, the guy who made this album! I think it's pretty good--but then any album with a last track actually called "Gibberish" has already won half the battle! Bobby Valentino: The Rebirth (Blue Kolla/EMI) A skilled R&B singer likely to appeal to that lovable "older demographic" who remember when Bobby Womack was a member of the Valentinos but now desperately need bifocals, Bobby V is featured here with Lil Wayne, Timbaland, Raphael Saadiq, Yung Joc and several musicians not nearly so famous! His fans love him, those who haven't heard him would like him if they did hear him, and he's back and better than ever! Celebrate him home! Glen Campbell: Greatest Hits (Capitol) Though his recent "career revitalization" album didn't take off as strongly as some anticipated, this new collection of 16 hits--remixed for a contemporary feel--theoretically might even serve him better. For songwriting alone, such standards as "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" and "Gentle On My Mind" sit very nicely alongside lesser-known hits such as "Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife"--hey, I just saw a housewife yesterday!--and in total present a welcome summation of Campbell's distinguished and colorful career. From the high of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" to the low of the Foo Fighters' "Times Like These," it's all here! Skip certain tracks at your leisure!