Tuesday, September 1, 2009
If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date, 9/1/09
PICK OF THE WEEK
THE BLACK CROWES- BEFORE THE FROST...UNTIL THE FREEZE
Recorded earlier this year in Levon Helm's barn in front of a handful of lucky fans, "Before The Frost" features 11 new Robinson Brother originals, as well as a download code for an additional 9 tunes which make up the "...Until The Freeze" portion of the program. Disc One could be the best music the Crowes have made since 1992's "The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion." The band has worn many masks, trying and not necessarily failing at creating records similar to those that influenced them. The Faces, The Stones, The Dead, The Burritos and even The Beatles have all made spiritual appearances on the Brothers' output. But a recording session in the presence of a live audience and the greatness that is, Mr. Levon Helm, or at least his barn, may have helped The Black Crowes nail it with this two-bagger.
Disc One is a "Big Pink" for our generation, with a real focus on melody and groove, and an overall feel of band comraderie that just oozes off of these songs. Band comraderie is the last phrase one would use when speaking of The Black Crowes, notorious for the sibling rivalry of the leaders, making this music all the more an accomplishment. Aside from the misstep that is "I Ain't Hiding," a disco thumper that would not have sounded out of place in a mix following "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," the tracks that make up "Before The Frost" feel as good as the first time you heard "Exile On Main Street."
Disc Two, if released separately for an additional cost, may have felt like a disappointment. It covers just about every band Chris & Rich Robinson has listened to in their lifetime. Some songs works, like the The Dillards' inspired "Roll Old Jeremiah" or the Stephen Stills cover, "So Many Times." But the psychedelic jamming of "Aimless Peacock" is nothing but filler, and most of the disc sounds like a collection of B-plus B-sides. Still, worth your time.
Interesting note- right now, you can download the whole she-bang, all 20 songs, on Amazon.com for $3.99. Not sure why, but I'd go there as soon as you're done here.
DRIVE BY TRUCKERS- FINE PRINT
Many DBT fans refer to the band as "Lynyrd Skynyrd with a brain." Well, they may be smarter, but Skynyrd's songs are more fun and more musical...at least to my ears. This is a collection of oddities from the vaults, which includes live tracks, alternates and some Dylan and Zevon covers.
LIAM FINN- CHAMPAGNE IN SEASHELLS
The wildly talented son of Neil Finn, follows-up last year's critically acclaimed debut, "I'll Be Lightning," with a 5 track e.p. featuring more of the intelligent pop that is not surprisingly similar to his dad's bands, Split Enz and Crowded House.
JOHN FOGERTY- BLUE RIDGE RANGERS RIDES AGAIN
Just a short 36 years later for the Rangers' follow-up, this time Fogerty isn't handling the duties all himself. Special guests include Bruce Springsteen, a few Eagles and the great, getting-stronger-by-the-minute Buddy Miller, for a brief and unfortunately, safe run-through of some of Fogerty's fave tunes, inlcuding Rick Nelson's "Garden Party," "John Denver's "Back Home Again," and The Everly's "When Will I Be Loved." It's not a bad listen, as much as it's a nothing listen. I can't just get on board like so many critics do, just because of the cast and material. It's a snoozer.
WHITNEY HOUSTON- I LOOK TO YOU
Well, if it keeps her off the yay yo, then I'm all for it.
REVEREND HORTON HEAT- LAUGHIN' AND CRYIN' WITH...
YEEEE-HAAWWW!! High-powered, fuel-injected, punkabilly from the legendary Reverend. Never gonna work on aluminum the way it works in person, but it still works somehow.
GEORGE USHER- YOURS AND NOT YOURS
Beautifully crafted and relentlessy hook-filled pop, from Cleveland born, NYC based, singer-songwriter George Usher.
Also, my reviews of the new Loudon Wainwright III and Radiohead reissues can be found at ALTERCATION.