Wednesday, April 11, 2012
If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date...On Wednesday, 4/11/12
ALABAMA SHAKES- BOYS & GIRLS
For all intents and purposes, the Alabama Shakes should be right in my wheelhouse. But alas, it is not. I fear, this record will become my "Blade Runner" for 2012. (More on that HERE) Friends, Romans AND countrymen have talked up this band with great passion, but after four attempts, all ending at track 8, I am left cold.
James Christopher Monger over at AMG says this, "Originally simply called the Shakes, the band’s not-so-subtle blend of fiery blues-rock and hard-hitting Southern soul has drawn comparisons to the Black Keys, the Drive-By Truckers, the Detroit Cobras, and even Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings." Trust me, the Alabama Shakes sound NOTHING like the Detroit Cobras or Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. The record is not so "fiery" either. At best, they sound like lightweight Drive By Truckers, or worse, Kings Of Leon with a female vocalist.
Brittany Howard has an interesting voice, sounding for the most part like a meatier Amy Winehouse, especially on "Rise To The Sun." Musically, there is an absolutely soulful, Muscle Shoals influence, but nothing on the record takes flight. Howard's melodies are choppy. Nothing flows. Nothing is musical. Songs like "Hold On" and "Heartbreaker" are built around Howard's big delivery, but those songs, like most of the record, feel like they are being plopped at you. I'm hearing plenty of ideas that just seem to peter out before actually peaking and landing that killer punch. The Otis-inspired "You Ain't Alone" again, sounds right, but take away the reverb and what you have is a melody that sounds more like what Janis might have vamped at the end of a song, not something that a song should have been built around.
Sorry, these guys may pack a bigger wallop live, but on record, they need more than just sonics and good intentions.
AMAZON DOWNLOAD is 5 bucks.
BONNIE RAITT- SLIPSTREAM
Following what I thought were two of the strongest records of her career, 2002's "Silver Lining" and 2005's "Souls Alike," the great Miss Raitt is back after a 7 year layoff, with Joe Henry at the controls.
After a shakey start--a standard funk workout on the opener and the bad idea of turning Gerry Rafferty's hit "Right Down The Line" into lightweight reggae--Bonnie Raitt's "Slipstream" falls right into that place we've known and loved for so many years. Takes on Dylan's "Million Miles" and "Standing In The Doorway" are brilliant, thanks to Raitt's aged but still powerful and effective voice. Yes, she has gotten better.
Joe Henry's production is perfect, as usual, giving Raitt and her band the right amount of space. It's a cozy record, with a warm sound. Big Al Anderson and Bonnie Bramlett turn in "Ain't Gonna Let You Go," a greasey, upbeat blues with classic Bonnie slide and some fine work on the organ from Mike Finnegan. And the reading of another Big Al tune, "Not Cause I Wanted To," could be the ballad of the year. That one, simply knocked me down and out. This is Bonnie Raitt exactly the way we want her, even if it's one of the worst album covers I've ever seen.
WORLD PARTY- ARKEOLOGY
For those of us who adore Karl Wallinger and World Party, you know it's not easy getting new music. 5 records in 25 years, to be exact. It's been harder for Karl, who had to overcome a brain aneurysm and learn how to play music all over again. The good news is, Karl's back....in a very big way.
"Arkeology" represents 25 years of mostly unheard material, scattered over 5 CDs in a brilliant package. Doing away with the standard "jewel cases in a boxed set" format, Wallinger decided on an any year calendar in a ring binder, with photos and notes. Everything about this set is a winner, including the low, $35 list price.
For those unfamiliar with World Party, let me explain. Karl Wallinger is a songwriter who is not afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, Brian Wilson and Prince all make spiritual appearances on many of Wallinger's tunes, but that is not to say he is not an original. This set is a perfect starting point, if maybe a bit too much, for the unitiated, and a treasure trove for long time followers.
There are familiar tunes such as "Ship Of Fools," "She's The One," and "Way Down Now" in live settings. Covers of "Dear Prudence," Sly's "Stand," Dylan's "Sweetheart Like You" and "Like A Rolling Stone" and Macca's "Man We Was Lonely," among others. New songs and old songs, b-sides and more.
I can't say enough about this incredible and wonderfully sequenced set of music.
Full track list below:
1. “Waiting Such A Long Time”
2. “Nothing Lasts Forever”
3. “Everybody’s Falling In Love”
4. “Where Are You Going When You Go”
6. “Everybody Dance Now”
7. “Closer Still”
8. “I Want To Be Free”
9. “I’m Only Dozing”
10. “No More Crying”
11. Interview/”Sweet Soul Dream” (Live Radio)
2. “The Good Old Human Race”
3. “Put the Message in the Box” (Live)
4. “Trouble Down Here”
6. “Silly Song”
7. “Man We Was Lonely”
8. “She’s The One” (Live)
9. “Ship of Fools”
10. “Mystery Girl”
11. “This is Your World Speaking”
12. “All The Love That’s Wasted”
13. “Lost in Infinity”
14. “New Light”
2. “Dear Prudence”
3. “Call Me Up” (Live Radio)
4. “Like A Rolling Stone”
5. “Sooner Or Later”
6. “Love Street”
7. “Time On My Hands”
8. “Who Are You”
9. “Sweetheart Like You”
10. “Another World”
11. “You’re Beautiful, But Get Out of My Life”
12. “Living Like The Animals”
13. “Stand” (Live)
14. “Thank You World” (Original Jam)
1. “Break Me Again”
2. “Baby” (Demo)
3. “Ship Of Fools”
4. “Put The Message In The Box”
5. “When Did You Leave Heaven”
6. “Nature Girl”
7. “It’s A Pity You Don’t Let Go”
8. “My Pretty One”
9. “De Ho De Hay”
10. “We Are The Ones”
11. “World Groove”/”Mind Guerilla”
12. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”
13. “Kuwait City”
14. “Do What I Want”
15. “All We Need Is Everything”
1. “Mystery Girl” (Early Version)
2. “What Is Love All About” (Outtake)
3. “I Hope it All Works Out For You”
4. “And God Said” (Long version)
5. “It Ain’t Gonna Work”
6. “Another One”
7. “I Am Me”
8. “It’s Gonna Be Alright”
9. “In Another World”
10. “Thank You World”
11. “Cry Baby Cry”
12. “Temple Of Love”
13. “Fixing A Hole”
14. “Way Down Now” (Live)
15. “Change The World”
GET IT !
TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA- LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH '75
The slow-moving Todd Archive series is finally back with this release, a newly remastered version of the legendary London show from 1975. The sound is fantastic, though the setlist may not be for everyone. Yes, it covers every aspect of Todd's career to date, with songs like the Nazz's "Open My Eyes," "Couldn't I Just Tell You" from "Something/Anything?," a cover of The Move's "Do Ya," as well as Utopia's "Freedom Fighters" and "The Last Ride" from "Todd." But they are all given the Utopia reading, which is either good news or bad, depending on when you gave up on Todd Rundgren.
BUY IT HERE
There are also new records by Counting Crows, M. Ward, Monica, Nanci Griffith and Amadou & Mariam, if you're interested. Me, not so much