A wealth of new releases arrives in the stores this week, as record labels proudly unveil product by some of the biggest names in the music business!
And while it's true that there are contemporary bestsellers represented--this week by Carrie Underwood, Weezer and Slayer--there are a significant number of past superstars in the racks as well!
Among the most conspicuous? Grunge's biggest superstars, Nirvana and the Bee Gees!
Additionally, other people have released records!
Carrie Underwood: Play On (19/Arista Nashville) While some maintain that the former American Idol winner and country music superstar occasionally veers a little too close to pop on songs like "Cowboy Casanova," few can deny that the lass has a heart of gold and talent to match! Her latest album should take her to the stratosphere--figuratively speaking--if only for the spectacular song selection, the one-of-a-kind philosophical conundrums taken on by such bold songs as "Songs Like This," and the nice flowers on the album cover! One can hear echoes of classic Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac in the album's title track if one listens hard enough and is only into titles!
Weezer: Raditude (Geffen) Like most people, upon seeing this album cover I instantly thought of Krypto, Superboy's loyal flying pooch, before remembering that I was actually looking at an album cover, this was 2009, and even though I'd made a few wrong choices in my life, there might still be hope! And boy, is this record good! Having just seen Weezer recently and deciding that their habitual irony-looping was now working in their favor--i.e, they're now pretending to pretend to pretend they really mean what they're doing--I think they're offering us clever songs filled with hooks that really rock and can be enjoyed for their titles alone! "I'm Your Daddy"? "Girl Got Hot"? "Can't Stop Partying"? These guys are more than rad--they're boss! Buy all their albums and live for the now!
Amerie: In Love & War (Island/Def Jam) The striking album cover here--apparently capturing attractive singer Amerie during the precise moment of her transfiguration into a divine angel--is just one of its fascinating elements! Now on a brand new label and ready to give her all, the singer continues to display, in the words of this album's product description, "an aggressive mix of trunk rattling hip-hop, raw soul reminiscent of James Brown, and classic Zeppelin-era rock `n roll"! That's quite a mix! With a heady array of producers and material ranging from sexy to upbeat to additional adjectives, In Love & War may actually wind up being more historically relevant than guitarist John Sterling--who by once playing with both Arthur Lee and Eric Burdon was himself almost in Love & War, too!
Slayer: World Painted Blood (American Recordings) What could be better than a new Slayer album if, in fact, you're a fan of Slayer? They are indeed back, still carrying on, still masters of a form of music that they in some ways may have invented, and writing great tracks like "Snuff," "Hate Worldwide," and the enviably monikered "Not Of This God"! Similarly, what could be better than a new Kenny Rogers album if, in fact, you're a fan of Kenny Rogers? Not that they're related, but it's still worth discussing! In sum, Slayer fans should buy the deluxe version of this because of the accompanying DVD; Kenny Rogers fans should buy chicken!
Nirvana: Bleach (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Sub Pop) With the endless mythologizing that's taken Kurt Cobain and Nirvana into the 21st century, it's nice to step back for a pure musical reality check, which is what this newly remastered edition of the band's debut album offers! It's pretty good! Packaged with a previously unreleased live performance in Portland from 1990--but still, mysteriously, only one-disc long!--the band's official takes on "About A Girl" and "Negative Creep" sound better than ever, especially to someone who last heard them in 1993 or so! In all, a rock opera would've been all it took to propel them to superstardom! Too bad!
The Bee Gees: The Ultimate Bee Gees (Reprise) In many ways like Nirvana but with better hair, the 'Gees, as many of us call them, are so spectacularly good--so consistently great throughout their many phases as rock group, pop single makers, disco artists, psychedelic lyricists--that any collection representing their best work verges on the divine! And so it is with this 2CD+DVD package, which perhaps naturally focuses a tad much on the band's Saturday Night Fever era at the expense of the largely unheard earlier classics! But the first five live performance tracks of the groovy accompanying DVD help further that cause and will excite you into endless paroxysms of pleasure! Incidentally, I've now used up every cliché I've ever known but I don't care!
Rickie Lee Jones: Balm In Gilead (Fantasy) In my heart of hearts I am inclined to like Rickie Lee Jones very much--because in her earlier days she made her very classic Pirates album, she was hip enough to cover "Walk Away Renee" later on, and she continues to be, as always, more interested in making art than simple pop singles! And despite its title--which sounds like something you'd buy at a drugstore to rub into the chafed part of your nether regions--this album sounds better than anything I've heard by her in years! But heck, I just reviewed Creed last week!
Morrissey: Swords (Polydor/Fontana International) The downside of lugging around a baby on his last album cover is evident by the picture on this new one, which shows a haggard Morrissey now exhausted after running into the woods once he'd realized his foolishness! Fans of the charming ex-Smiths singer will love this collection, particularly in its "deluxe" configuration, as it is loaded with various B-sides and the sort of things you'd have to be a Morrissey nut to have already purchased elsewhere! As always, titles such as "My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye," "If You Don't Like Me, Don't Look at Me," and "I'm OK By Myself" make listening to the songs themselves unnecessary! Hey, who's got the time?
Ride, Lush, Blur and...(accidentally plays CD) Oops, sorry! Well, for fans of this much loved television show featuring young singers you've never heard of covering "Don't Stop Believing," "Gold Digger" and "Dancing With Myself"--yes, it does sound like heaven in a pair of wooden shoes--this is only the beginning! Buy this CD, open it up, and a small piece of paper will drop on your lap announcing the imminent arrival of Glee: The Music, Volume 2 coming to record stores on 12.8.09! That's right--just a month from now! I'm going to collect 'em all!
Say Anything: Say Anything (RCA) Ever notice that people used to always refer to that sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey as "Two-Thousand And Ten" but are now calling next year "Twenty Ten"? Could be trouble!
- Carrie Underwood