Tuesday, May 7, 2013

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date: 5/7/13

Sometimes...well... most of the time...a live experience doesn't translate to a recording. The performance last week by The Mercy Brothers at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans was a highlight. As one New Orleans writer, Herman Fuselier wrote, "Dressed in their tent revival best, the Lafayette based band sings rollicking songs of faith and devotion, love & despair. That's the subtitle of their new CD Holy Ghost Power! But this charismatic clan isn't made up of preachers. They don't really care if the congregation is saved or filled with sinners---they just want listeners to unite in the spirit of moving music."

That's exactly what happened last Thursday as these fake revivalists, sounding a bit like a Cajun version of The Mavericks, tore up the Gentilly Stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. As Bob Dylan once said, "You don't need to be a junkie to enjoy Heroin by the Velvet Underground." So don't let the subject matter here scare you away.

Before I started writing one of my typically gushing reviews, I decided to buy the CD and give it a spin. I was sure the difference between standing in the middle of a raucous crowd in New Orleans and playing the CD while sitting on my couch would be akin to the difference between shooting a bullet or throwing one. I was right, but "Holy Ghost Power," released in 2012 and not today as you'd might have expected from the title of this post, is worth your time.

These boys can play. And sing. And this record is a blast. Listen on Spotify or if you've already been sold, you can buy it here

Supposed return to form Rod Stewart album sounds like old Rod Stewart performed by current Rod Stewart which makes for better listening than the standards albums, but still not old Rod Stewart. Basically, it's more of a return to 1981 Rod Stewart, which is okay I guess, but not really.

The problem here is that every song sounds like a weaker version of a previous hit. You have your mandolin-led ballad, your disco-ey dance number, your soccer-galoot singalong, your Tim Hardin-ish folk tune, your drunken-Faces rocker and a Tom Waits cover or two.  I'll take this over another songbook album anyday, but this is still eons from the Rod we all love.

Jeff mentioned the new Fitz & The Tantrums last week and his review was dead on. I'd just like to add that, as much I loved the first one, I think this new one is just as good in its own way. Yes, it's less organic than the debut, with synths taking over for the natural rhythm section, but every song has a melody or hook to die for, and for me, that's huge. 

I read somewhere that Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick wrote these songs with one thing in mind--he wanted people to sing and dance. Mission accomplished. I've spent many words lamenting over the lack of songwriting in all these current new and "hot" artists and with this new Fitz record, I can give that a bit of a rest.  Check out the chorus on track 10, "The End."  Damn!


Shriner said...

So, I enjoyed the Rod. I completely avoided the standards discs, so my expectations were not overly high.

I would say it's up there with "Tonight I'm Yours". I don't know if that's damning with faint praise, or if his "I'm an old man reminiscing about..." lyrics got to me or not.

But it was much better than I was expecting.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree w. the "live vs. recorded" thang - NO recording could measure up to the truly cosmic Papa Grows Funk set that I caught at The Maple Leaf last night. (Their records are OK, but man, I could have danced all night.) Great to hang w, you and M., Sal - I'll give you a shout next time I hit a NYC festival. - bill buckner

William Repsher said...

Old Rod is never coming back. He's never going to book studio time with The Black Crowes or Marah, throw out the shithead producers and record company people, and just record himself simply with a bunch of guys who get him in a deep abiding way and provide him with the sort of inspiration and material that would re-ignite that spark. It's just not in the cards for him.

Frankly, the new album isn't bad for what he's become as an old man. Reminded me of When We Were the New Boys -- one of those 90s albums where'd he surprise you with a song here and there. I pulled down 3-4 tracks that really aren't bad for him. Compared to Gasoline Alley? Every Picture? Come on, now. I wasn't even expecting that level of excellence in 1978, much less now!

A walk in the woods said...

Welcome back! Hey, I was at Jazz Fest this past weekend too... but didn't get there in time to see The Mercy Brothers. In fact I wasn't brave enough to muck through the mud and rain on either Thursday or Friday. Saturday and Sunday were great though.

I sure wish I could like the new Rod more, 'cause I'm a big fan overall. Hard to find much there I could deal with, except the title song.