JACK WHITE- BLUNDERBUSS
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.
AND SPEAKING OF....
BRENDAN BENSON- WHAT KIND OF WORLD
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.
GET IT HERE
WARREN HAYNES BAND- LIVE AT THE MOODY THEATRE (2 CDS & 1 DVD)
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."
BILLY BRAGG & WILCO- MERMAID AVENUE COMPLETE
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.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK-----
CAROLE KING- THE LEGENDARY DEMOS
PETER GABRIEL- NEW BLOOD (LIVE)
THE DANDY WARHOLS- THIS MACHINE
THE WACO BROTHERS & PAUL BURCH- GREAT CHICAGO FIRE
MARTY STUART- NASHVILLE VOL.1: TEAR THE WOODPILE DOWN