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New This Week

Holy smoke! I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but I just saw a TV news report announcing that some of today's biggest music stars are being investigated for making albums on steroids!

Look, let's get real here. I wasn't too big a fan of 8-tracks or cassettes, I didn't mind buying albums on vinyl, and I've always sort of been into CDs and even downloads! But steroids? Isn't that exactly the sort of thing Phil Spector was against?

Just a thought!

Raheem DeVaughn: Love Behind The Melody (Jive) It may not be the year's strongest release week if this blog leads off with a new album by Raheem DeVaughan, true; on the other hand, the strategy may simply be to make a weak joke about William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful For What You Got" and leave it at that! All I know is, this album features guest appearances by Big Boi and Floetry and ends with a track called "Four Letter Word." And when you get right down to it, those facts and those facts alone make this the week's most exciting new release! Plus my being able to put the word "jive" after the title! Kicks do keep getting harder to find!

Ringo Starr: Liverpool 8 (Capitol/EMI) Just the other day I was playing this in the office, then put it on "pause" while I went and got a soda or something. After a few moments of a discussion with someone out in the hall, I came back, resumed playing the CD, then read some e-mail. After about two minutes, I thought to myself, "Hey, this is pretty good! What is it?" When I remembered it was the new Ringo album, I realized I wasn't supposed to like it for some reason, so I decided I didn't. Later that night, for a minute or so, I realized a little part of myself had died. But you know what? I was kind of getting into Prison Break. It's a cool show!

Egypt Central: Egypt Central (Fat Lady/ILG) So I put this CD on and was thinking that this band's name really gave me no indication whatsoever of the sort of music they played. I was, like, a tabula rasa, as we used to say in philosophy class! And when I played it, I thought to myself, this kind of music sounds exactly like the kind of music bands like Linkin Park play! They should make lots of money! Then I saw that they were on Fat Lady records, which is kind of like a Warner Brothers Records' "junior," fake-indie label. It struck me as odd that music this commercial couldn't even attract a major label's full support these days. Then I had lunch at El Pollo Loco! Neat, huh?

Anne Murray: Duets: Friends & Legends (EMI Manhattan) In many ways a '70s version of Courtney Love--Murray is blonde, a woman, and from Canada, which is close to Seattle, where Courtney apparently lived once--this disc is a welcome return to less troubled times. Guest artists abound--including Celine Dion, Nelly Furtado, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, the Indigo Girls, Olivia Newton-John, and, due to the wonders of modern technology, the long-departed Dusty Springfield--and all told, it's everything I ever wanted from an Anne Murray album in 2008! That said, the last track on side two--in which the "friends" battle the "legends" in a bloody, catcall-filled skirmish to the death--is admittedly unnerving!

The Magnetic Fields: Distortion (Nonesuch) The first release in some time from Stephin Merritt's critically lauded MFs will be garnering oodles of attention from those who actually get a chance to hear it! Those who don't will write about it anyway, especially if they're writing this sentence! Between you and me, if I didn't know better, with his past few album titles--69 Love Songs, i, and now Distortion--I'd suspect my own son was involved in the making of these albums! But enough about me--let's talk about this album: It's out, and being discussed here!

Spice Girls: Greatest Hits (Virgin) It wouldn't be an understatement to say that the Spice Girls' recorded legacy has now been bolstered by a new greatest hits album! The hubbub that their recent tour has provided certainly drives home the point that these once ultra-hot, music-making vixens will have a fan base as long as that fan base is willing to pay exorbitant prices to see them live! Hearing old favorites like "Wannabe (Radio Edit)" and their other ones--you know which ones I mean--is as refreshing as watching an Orbit chewing gum commercial! And--frankly--nowhere near as sticky!

Ricky Nelson: Greatest Love Songs (Capitol EMI) I confess to being a lifelong fan of Ricky Nelson and must admit that this 22-track collection of his work, apparently compiled for Valentine's Day sales purposes, also serves as an excellent introduction to his impeccable catalog. Including such tracks as "Poor Little Fool," "Teenage Idol," "Lonesome Town," and "Hello Mary Lou," among other gems, this CD flows from start to finish and is an excellent reminder of his sometimes undersung legacy. I can't believe he was related to Ozzy!

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Eliane Elias: Something For You (Blue Note) An excellent album wholly devoted to the work of pioneering jazz pianist Bill Evans, this is Brazilian pianist/singer Elias' first album in over five years and well worth your hearing. The subtlety in the legendary pianist's work does not escape Elias, and the artful backing of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron on most tracks never fails to delight, especially when you're listening to it! Critics agree: If Beyonce were to record a jazz album, many would note the similarity in these artists' hairstyles!

Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey: Mavericks (Collector's Choice) A welcome reissue of 1991's joint reunion album by the two mainstays of the fabulous dB's, this nifty collection serves as welcome reminder that the latter band was responsible for a couple of the very best rock 'n' roll albums of the '80s--Repercussion and Stands For Decibels. If you don't own them, go get them now and enjoy the full life that you've inadvertently missed due to factors beyond your control! Then realize your entire perception of popular music has been tragically flawed, sell all your albums, and consider a lucrative career in critiquing music!

Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen: The Early Years 1967-1970 (Blue Label/Ryko) One rarely thinks of this multi-talented aggregation anymore unless one is advised that a new 2 CD compilation of their rare, earliest work has just been released! A taste of greatness? A stunning revelation that was once considered highly enjoyable is now oddly pedestrian? Some of the very first practitioners of what would later be called the "Americana" genre? A series of questions uniformly lacking a subject? No way!

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