Tuesday, April 24, 2012

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date: 4/24/12


There are moments here and there on "Blunderbuss," just as there were moments on the records by The White Stripes and even a few on the two records by The Dead Weather that grabbed my attention. Rhythms, riffs, beats and sounds that seem like good ideas, but when put together and constructed as songs, simply don't cut it...for me.  Underneath all the gimmicks (and yes, even if you're a die-hard fan, you can't deny White's career has been very gimmicky)---the silence-to-rage vocals, the squeaky wheel vocals, the psychotic dynamics, for starters ---you will find songs that are just slightly above mediocre.  The one tune on "Blunderbuss" that really works is a cover of Little Willie John's "I'm Shakin'." The arrangement is fully realized and it is nothing short of brilliant. But, the words and melody were already there for Mr White.

The one and only time I saw The White Stripes play live, I was blown away, both by Jack White's guitar playing and by Meg White's oft-maligned drumming. Nothing, on any of their studio recordings ever hit me with the wallop they packed on the stage. I recognize Jack White's talent on the six-string, but other than The Raconteurs, whose records I love mostly because of Brendan Benson, I find Jack White to be one of the most overrated rock stars of our time.

It's here:



Benson's last solo release "My Old, Familiar Friend" was one of my favorite records of 2009. It may have even been #1, I'd have to check the archives.  Smart power-pop, with an occasional touch of whatever he may be feeling at the time, including punk and soul, Brendan Benson adds a touch of class to it all. On "What Kind Of World," he is back in a big way. The formula is the same, only this time he has Jon Auer & Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, as well as Ashley Monroe of the Pistol Annies on board.

The songs are darker, as Benson writes about his recent break-up, but I have to admit, that's right in my wheelhouse, with big choruses and enough hooks to snag a flounder. By my third pass through, I was already placing "What Kind Of World" in my year-end Top Ten.



Between The Allman Brothers, The Dead, solo shows, guest appearances and his own band Gov't Mule, I'm pretty sure the tireless Warren Haynes has had no more than about 15 days off in the last 20 years. And of all those bands I just mentioned, I have to admit, though I love them all, it was Haynes' last solo record, "Man In Motion" I loved best. Here's what I said about it:

Inspired by one of Haynes' musical idols, Little Milton, and featuring a New Orleans rhythm section of George Porter Jr. and Terrence Higgins, Haynes delivers the perfect combination of Southern R&B, with just a taste of the extended jamming all of his employers are known for. He never takes it too far, and that is what makes "Man In Motion" work.

Well, "Live At The Moody Theatre" takes it a little further, but not necessarily too far. This live document captures Hayes and his band at what they do best...if you're into that kind of thing. I am, and this one is a winner. Songs from "Man In Motion" are represented of course, as well as a few choice covers, such as Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic" and Jimi's "Spanish Castle Magic."



You know it. You love it. And now it's bigger, with a third disc of unreleased tunes from the sessions and in a nice little box.









Troy said...

Really looking forward to the Warren Haynes disc. Like you, I loved 'Man in Motion'. Glad to hear it doesn't disappoint.

jeff k said...

crushed that you didn't review the new Wilson Phillips.

Ken D said...

Is the third disc in the Mermaid Ave box worth it? I have (and love) Vols 1 and 2, but don't want to drop $30 if the "unrealeased" are throwaways.

The Benson looks tempting. The Amazon link shows it as two 6-song CDs... is that right?

Don't recall you mentioning the recent Shins disc... any feeling about it either way?

Sal Nunziato said...

@Ken. The third disc is a bit more demo-ey. If you have the first two, not sure the 3rd CD is worth.

I bought the Benson vinyl, so I'm not sure about the CD packaging. It looks as if it is still priced at one CD.

I didn't mention the Shins because I didn't like it.

Sal Nunziato said...

Actually, I mention things I don't like all the time. I guess I just didn't care enough either way.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Jack isn't quite all that.
I saw a video from "Blunderbuss" last week. Except for Jack and his haircut it was fun to look at.
The song had a clever couplet or two, but it didn't go anywhere.
My favorite White Stripes album is "Redd Blood Cells" as assembled by Steven McDonald.

Anonymous said...

Been a Mule fan since almost the beginning (around 96). I have to say that, while still good, they haven't been the same for me since Woody died. The Man in Motion album and tour were exceptional though. Looking forward to this one.

William Repsher said...

Jack White might be the ONLY rock star left these days! The whole concept of "rock stars" has either been turned on its head or faded over the last decade. At least in that hallmark 70s style where this concept was almost a religion.

I'll give the album a fair listen. I always found plenty of filler on White Stripes albums, but the occasional song that cut right through all the BS.

Speaking of which, I had chance to give the Alabama Shakes more of a listen ... and I really like that album! Maybe it's because I avoided all the hype, but I had no expectations, but they struck me as a band with a really cool sound and a lot of slight, but tuneful songs that worked on some small level for me. It reminded me a lot of The White Stripes first two albums and the same feeling I got listening to them. Could be better, and hopefully will be in another album or two, but not a bad start.

jeff k said...

wow, evie sands was pretty hot.

mpjedi2 said...

Couldn't agree more about White. I was vaguely interested in him until I saw the "It Might Get Loud" film.

I found The Edge to be humble and quite open about the wall of gear that turns what are simple riffs into compelling music. I was taken with Jimmy Page as a big kid.

And there was Jack White, indulging in this utterly transparent myth-building. Giving advice to "little Jack," full of himself in every scene. It. Was. Utterly. Ridiculous. He seems like a bratty kid looking for attention, and I, for one, won't be indulging him.

I have to admit, like you, I did like The Raconteurs.

Sal Nunziato said...

A friend e-mailed a video of the Shakes doing "Be Mine" on Jools Holland, with the subject line, "tell me this doesn't move you."

I watched it.

Here is my reply:

No, not moved. Liked it a lot more than anything on the record, but it still misses the mark for me. She's got the right moves, screams well and in all the right spots to boot, but take away the theatrics and you've got a boring song. There's no melody. It's choppy. She's taken every blues & soul phrase & cliche and strung them together. It's not musical. It's ONLY feeling. I need both.

I promise I am not on a one-man crusade to stop the Alabama Shakes. But as much as I question those in favor--what are you hearing-- I question myself--what am I missing?

I'd like to chalk it up to, "It's just music." But we all know, it isn't.

William, I think you nailed it again. "Cool sound, slight but tuneful." Tweet that phrase instead of "OMG, this bands KILLS" and see who cares.

As for Jack White, mpjedi2...you nailed it..for me. If I was on the fence about Jack White, "It Might Get Loud" was what pushed me off.

William Repsher said...

Just spotified the Jack White album ... sound of crickets ... cat knocks over trash can. I like that Nicky Hopkins vibe he's got going with the piano, the songs sound right ... but I'm not hearing any songs, or at least the sort of songs that rise to all the influences he spots. Alice Cooper once replied when asked why he didn't like so many new bands: he just didn't hear any songs. I think that's all many of us are asking for. I also sampled the Carole King demos ... Jesus Christ, just write songs. She got it.

I can't believe that attention to songwriting has undergone some radical change in the past decade or two that more experienced pop music fans can't grasp, when I can look back over decades of pop history, be it Cole Porter, Gerswhin, Glenn Miller, Lennon/McCartney, Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Difford/Tilbrook, whoever ... just worked at their craft and learned how to write great songs. Whatever genre, whatever era.

Yeah, I'm starting to see the Shakes mania the more I poke around the web. I think that's just how things are now, and will be from now on. You can't just like something on its own humble merits. It has to be like, you know, totally, great. I don't ever need to hear those five words again.

Jerry Lee said...

I can't hate on the White Stripes, they had a great appearance on The Simpsons: