Tuesday, February 7, 2012

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date: 2/7/12


"If not now, when?" 

This is Paul McCartney's reasoning behind releasing "Kisses On The Bottom," a mostly harmless and straightforward...and super bland... reading of the Great American Songbook. Recorded with Diana Krall and her band, and produced by...yaaaawnn...Tommy LiPuma, "Kisses On The Bottom" is so safely presented, you'll question whether you actually heard it when it's through playing.

Paul's voice shows its age a bit, as he allows his falsetto to take over. It is both frail and occasionally charming, especially on "Bye Bye Blackbird" and a surprisingly Beatle-like take on "The Inch Worm." Problem is, who really wants to here "The Inch Worm," unless it's Coltrane. I would have been more interested in hearing Paul's band with Rusty Anderson and Abe Laboriel Jr. tackle this repertoire. That might have made for a more interesting experience. This is mostly just another standards record, with nothing special to talk about, other than it's from a Beatle. (But, maybe hanging with Diana Krall opened up talks for that long-awaited McCartney-McManus album.)

It's HERE.


Whose idea was it to release "Tattoo" as the first single, Sammy Hagar? As one friend put it, "Even by Van Halen party-song standards, that song is shit."

Well, the single isn't great, that's for sure. But "A Different Kind Of Truth" really is.

If you've never been a Van Halen fan, there's little I can say about this record to get you on board. But if those first 4 classic albums were on heavy rotation back in the day, this comeback will tickle you.  Eddie and the boys manage to crank out some vintage VH sounds without sounding like parodies of themselves.

David Lee Roth sounds older, but just as stupid, and I mean that in the best possible way. These boys are having fun and as usual, Eddie's playing is still off the hook.

My picks: "China Town," "Honeybabysweetiedoll" and "Stay Frosty."




Yet another Todd Rundgren reissue campaign has gotten underway in the UK. This time, it claims to be "definitive." It isn't.

I started with the first release, which is both "Runt" and "The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren" in one package. Making it all the more appealing, was the inclusion of the never-before-released on CD alternate takes from "Runt," as well as some live tracks originally found on the Japanese rarities collection, "Somewhere/Anywhere?"

It's hard to go wrong with this package, as it is priced at $8. But, these new reissues are not remastered, as they claim to be.  And if they are, why doesn't it say so anywhere in the packaging? (And why are they $8?)

Released today in the US, is the most interesting of the lot. This package contains Rundgren's three releases from his time spent at Warner Brothers.

"A Cappella" is Todd at his most creative, making music and sounds with nothing but his voice. It's not the easiest record to embrace if you're just stopping by, but it does contain some fan favorites, including "Pretending To Care" and "Lost Horizon," and it remains a personal favorite of mine.

"Nearly Human" should have put the man back on top. This was a brilliant return to Philly pop and soul, with a big band and some of Rundgren's best material, and remains one of my all time favorite releases.

"Second Wind" was recorded in front of a live audience over a series of performances in Los Angeles. It continues where "Nearly Human" left off, with big arrangements, but sadly weaker material.

The reason I love this particular package is because it is the first time these records have received any sort of upgrade since their initial release. Friday Music did put out "Second Wind" a few years back, but again, to my ears, there was no sonic upgrade.

My other minor quibble is, if these are indeed "definitive," why does "A Cappella" include the bonus remix of "Something To Fall Back On," but "Second Wind" does not include the ever-elusive, cassette-only track, "Jesse?

The whole campaign is questionable, but at least the catalogue is readily available at a decent price. For me, the 2006, 20K remasters from Japan are still the definitive versions, even without new notes and new bonus tracks.

They are all HERE


Robin said...

I love the McCartney. I listened to it on NPR, I bought it. If it doesn't move you then it doesn't, I like how subtle it is. I don't believe it's an average standards album by a rock star. It is not Rod, Linda, Carly. I like the love for the music he shows here, much like Run Devil Run. (I just read the Times review, so I'm not alone in thinking it's slightly mold breaking).

The song choices are not that typical, and chosen out of real nostalgia for the material, not because Nelson Riddle told him to sing it (sorry lovely Linda!), and I do want to hear Inch Worm by him! ;) This is not my Macca blindness rearing its ugly head. I think he is being very brave here. I wish his voice wasn't so overly familiar to all of us, I believe his over-familiarity hurts him.

I think he is using the age in his voice very well, he's not Sinatra (who is?) but for a rocker he turns a phrase beautifully (always a talent of his), and yes it's charming and the softness in his voice, appropriate. I love "My Valentine" and Clapton's work on it too.

To each his own of course, however someone asked you in another post what you thought of the "McCartney fluff" (a knee-jerk reaction as I believe the person had not heard the record) based on the NPR stream... if it's not your thing fine, but nothing with Krall and John Pizzarelli is musical fluff! And I agree Sal I'd love to hear more McCartney/McManus.

Sal Nunziato said...

That is one impassioned review. Thank you. Really fantastic.

I happen to be a fan of Diana Krall. Was mostly impressed by her piano playing when I saw her open for Tony Bennett. And I agree, this is not "fluff."

I'm not feeling it. Not yet, anyway.

Noam Sane said...

Glad to see Todd getting some reissue attention, but I'm not gonna cough up the bucks. Already have 'em and they sound fine. I remember being very disappointed by Second Wind, coming on the heels of the magnificent Nearly Human.

Sal, did you check out the Todd boot over at BigO? Recorded last year in Amsterdam with a full orchestra - it's been on heavy rotation at Casa Sane because it's fantastisch!

From a radio broadcast. His voice is a bit worn but - not to be missed.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I can't help reading the title as "Kissing The Bottom", but I haven't heard it and Macca deserves respect. I'm glad he still likes making music.

Anything Should Happen said...

"If not now, when?" errrrrrrr never.

It just seems so pointless.

I've been re-watching Anthology this week and I know it's unfair to compare him to that time, but to see it come to this is just a bit sad.

Agree with everything you say about the Todd reissues and I'm with Noam.

Incidentally, the great thing about going trough Anthology again is that you notice something different every time.

This time for me was an appreciation of how much Lennon's vocals dominated their early days, how great things like Twist And Shout, I'm Down and Baby's In Black are.

What a great song Rock And Roll Music is and what a great choice of cover it was.

Finally, how good is For The Benefit Of Mr Kite?

Shriner said...

So, I think the new Van Halen album is very, very good. Dave's voice is clearly older (and you can tell the vocals were probably painstakingly recorded), but still has that smirk in it.

From what I've read, most of the song are reworkings of '77/'78 demos -- so that's a good thing.

it's one of the better "reunion" efforts I've ever heard, actually. Why "Blood And Fire" wasn't the lead-off single, I don't know. (Well, I *do* know -- it's not the hardest rocking song on the album, so it would have not been representative.) But it's a clear concert opener, though...

Anonymous said...

I don't love what I heard so far from the Van Halen but I was never the biggest fan. I agree the 1st 4 were very good, especially the debut, but they became too much of a joke with Dave and pretty ordinary without him. But hey a lot of people will love it so I say enjoy!

James A. Gardner said...

Just read that Ringo's latest All-Starr Band will include Todd! And Gregg Rolie. This may be the year to catch the Ringo show.

Sal Nunziato said...


Love the Todd Amsterdam show.

Sal Nunziato said...

Also, I listened to Ringo's "Sentimental Journey," quite possibly rock's first standards release. Hadn't listened since the early 70s. Don't hate me but, it's damn good. Not comparing it to Macca. Not saying anything but... it was a pleasure. Light but entertaining arrangements and def. better than any remember it being.

john said...

johnny jingo is one of the greatest songs ever. Thank You.