Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I Love When That Happens

I asked a friend, a Ryan Adams expert (my label, not his), for some advice. I wanted to listen to something I hadn't heard before. Adams has many records. I have four of them. I took a peek at what All Music had to say about the records I wasn't familiar with. My friend mentioned how he liked a lot of "29." All Music had this to say about "29":

"After opening with the title track's straight-up rewrite of the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'," it slides into a series of quiet, languid late-night confessionals that all barely register above a murmur. It's like Love Is Hell transported to a folk/country setting, then stripped not only of its sonic texture but also its songwriting skeleton. Apart from "29" and to a lesser extent "Carolina Rain" and "The Sadness," these songs meander with no direction. The songs on 29 never have energy and they always feel incomplete, lacking either a center or a sense of momentum, nor ever conjuring the alluringly weary melancholia that carried Love Is Hell. Instead, it's the first time Adams has sounded completely worn out and spent, bereaved of either the craft or hucksterism at the core of his work."


As it happens, at this past weekend's record show, someone had a copy of "29" for the right price, so I bought it and have been listening. This record is a beauty. Like my friend, I like a lot of it, with my least favorite tracks being the "Truckin'" rewrite and "The Sadness," both cited (kind of) as the better songs on the record. Strange how we hear music differently.

I will say this. "29" is not an upbeat record. But the songs are powerful. Not having "energy" and "sounding completely worn out" seem like unfair descriptions. Johnny Cash sounded worn out on his Nine Inch Nails cover and that is one of the more powerful songs of the last 25 years.

"29" may not be for everyone, but I was knocked over by some of Adams "confessionals." Two of them are here.

(h/t Zippy)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Keef On Keefin' On

It's December and rainy and chilly and Monday. These are just four my least favorite things. But, it's not like me to bring everybody down. ~ahem~

Anyway, I woke up to this gorgeous Keith song in my head. It feels appropriate for today and it is certainly a high note of late career Stones.

Plus, I got nothin' else.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Rolling Stones Country: THE WEEKEND MIX

I found a post from 2013, written right about the time the Rolling Stones were about to go on tour. I go on for more than a bit about the same things I went on about just the other day while discussing their new blues record. I mention Jagger trying too hard to stay relevant, jacked up ticket costs, bad live performances, lousy production, age, etc.. But it wasn't all bad. The post, actually a Weekend Mix, ended this way.

"That said, here are a dozen of my favorite Stones songs from the albums that apparently suck. It should not go unnoticed that four and a half tunes are sung by Keith and four are from "Steel Wheels," a real diamond in the doody that is the Stones' 80's output. I'd also like to mention that anyone who dismisses "It's Only Rock & Roll," and especially "Black & Blue," just isn't listening."

This was the tracklist:

Love Is Strong
Hand Of Fate
Worried About You
All About You
The Worst
Can't Be Seen
Fingerprint File
Almost Hear You Sigh
Memory Motel
Hold Onto Your Hat
Slipping Away

I knew I wanted to put together a Stones mix, as an antidote to the dreck that is "Blue & Lonesome." A compilation of better blues tunes seemed too obvious. I thought of calling the mix "CBGB," but couldn't come up with one Stones bluegrass tune, at least real bluegrass. I decided on "Rolling Stones Country," which covers a lot of ground while not really straying too far from the theme.

Mick & Keith always sounded great together when singing country harmony. It's not all about that, but you'll get the idea. It could almost be the Stones "Stripped," like the album of the same name, only everything here is from the studio, including a few oddities to keep everyone on their toes.

Enjoy, I hope.


Country Honk
Silver Train
Dear Doctor
Back Street Girl
Drift Away
Factory Girl
Shake Your Hips
Let's Spend The Night Together '95
No Expectations
Through The Lonely Nights
Dead Flowers
Sweet Black Angel
You Got The Silver (Mick's Version)
You Win Again
Blinded By Love
Sweet Virginia


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I Got The Blues, Alright.

A reader, Pete, recently commented:

"I think you slam the Stones a bit too hard and a bit too frequently. A world with the Stones in it is better than a world without them. Voodoo Lounge is my least favorite album of theirs, but I'm glad it exists, and I'm glad they didn't break up after Undercover even if I don't listen to their later albums very much."

I replied:

"That is just not true. I am the guy who's been slamming the guys who claim the last good Stones album was "Exile." I have come to the Stones defense on countless occasions, as well as raving about records right thru and including "Steel Wheels." What is true is, I don't like what they are now, and a lot of that has to do with Jagger, who is probably responsible for Don Was. And yes, I've been very clear that I think their records after "Steel Wheels" are lousy, as is their practice to charge up to $500 for concert tickets. Of course the world is better with than without the Stones, but that doesn't mean I have to pretend to like their recent records or pretend they still sound good live, because they don't."

Well, Pete. Here goes nothin'!

I've been seeing this phrase a whole helluva lot, "The Stones album you wanted them to make."


No, it isn't.

I did not want a one vibe, Jagger-centric, badly produced collection of one-take blues covers. "Blue & Lonesome" doesn't even sound like the Rolling Stones. The production is so hot and so brittle, with Jagger's harp blowing relentlessly into your face, this might as well be a Jagger vanity project. There is no vocal play at all between Mick and Keith to remind you that Keith is in the band. The guitars sound exactly the same on every track, as if they are being played through a bullhorn.  There is no subtlety, no sweetness. (Yes, the blues can be sweet.) Every song sounds like a half time show.

Who is to blame? Don Was? Mick, for allowing Don Was to produce the record? Everyone? Was there no one around to suggest an acoustic guitar for at least one or two songs? A couple of things work, like both "Hate To See You Go" and "Little Rain," because they both seem effortless. Why are the Rolling Stones trying so hard? They don't need to. Their age should have worked for them with this type of record.

In 2016, a "blues record" sounds a lot better on paper than a new Stones record with special guest vocalists John Mayer and Ke$ha. But let's be honest with ourselves. We wanted 12 songs that sound like "Love In Vain" and "Little Red Rooster," not 12 blues songs that sound like "Might As Well Get Juiced" from "Bridges To Babylon."

"Blue & Lonesome" comes and goes in a little over 40 minutes. Am I happy to have this record in my world than not? I don't know. If it's this or nothing, I guess the answer is, this. But it really is nothing.

New Chuck Prophet

From my favorite "should be a superstar," here is the new single, "Bad Year For Rock & Roll."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Songs Of The Week, 2016: 11/19-11/25

Hey Eugene- Pink Martini
Above The Clouds- Paul Weller
Landmine- Jonatha Brooke
Nobody Loves You (When You're Down & Out)- John Lennon
Wild Horses- Rolling Stones
Be Thankful For What You've Got- William DeVaughn
Mandy- The Rails