Give the Arena Some
The first six tracks are all heavy irony shading over into murderous rage, with refurbished arena-rock to slam it home; it's perversely anti-political to lay any other interpretation on the opening "We Take Care of Our Own," which cites places "From the shotgun shack to the Superdome" where we‑-meaning the U.S.A. so many Americans weren't even born in‑-documentably haven't taken care of our own. It's protest music, damn right about moral abstractions rather than those finely limned characters good little aesthetes get gooey about, and for me a cathartic up. Second half's less of a scour, which the anti-political find a blessed relief and I find a forgivable nod to humanism and Clarence Clemons‑-
especially since the climactic "We Are Alive" is so vulgar as to assume that all America's oppressed will rise up from the grave they share. To wreak vengeance, y'think? They got a right. A MINUS
Madonna: MDNA (Interscope)
Forget the four "Deluxe" extras, not one of which except maybe the pretty little "I F***ed Up" improves on the updated '90s arena-dance power tracks of the first 43 minutes, although they top the deadly-dreamy closer "Falling Free" as well as the penultimate "Masterpiece," which begins "If you were the Mona Lisa . . . ." Granted, I could mock "Ooh la la you're my superstar/Ooh la la that's what you are" just as easily. But lyrics have never been where she showed off her gorgeous brains, and anyway, the 10-track mix I propose as an alternative goes out on a real song called "Love Spent": "Hold me like your money/Tell me that you want me/Spend your love on me/Spend your love on me." Nicki Minaj shines bright, but she's no more crucial structurally than the cheerleaders who garnish "I'm Addicted" at its close and embellish "Give Me All Your Luvin'" throughout. Play loud. She's smart and she's proud. A MINUS
However, I've likewise got on board with later Madonna as a corporation that tries harder than it has to (when it isn't being flatly crass and time-filling). And she's always been a standout champion of the concept that Big Is Important in pop, and I'm with her on that.
Finally, these days she doesn't get enough credit for being one of the supreme born-to-make-videos pop performers ever. When I want to hear The Immaculate Collection (every couple years), I reach for the DVD version. And it holds up. "Like a Prayer" in particular is a thrilling tiny movie. Though it ain't great for the career arc of Ms Ciccone, a confirmation is that she never made a satisfactory transition to the big screen. Embrace the small form that is your soul mate.
So I have fancies where Madonna turns into a Whole Foods superstore. And I'm at ease with that.
*'Course, I never imagined Blondie would make an album as worthless as their recent one.
Thoughts (from a rootless cosmopolitan) on today's posts, and inspired partly by hearing Dorothy Love Coates' "I Won't Let Go" while running this afternoon. I'm really sorry that I'm blanking on who brought this into my life recently but thank you thank you.Cam did. Thanks again Cam!
And also, if anybody else does this kind of thing, a folder of the recently reviewed Thomas Anderson, Leonard Cohen, Tommy Womack, Todd Snider and Bruce Springsteen on random is pretty much non-stop kick ****. Add Womack's "The Replacements" (which features strings, great move!) and hope for a segue with "Brenda".
Why I like Protestants Better than Catholics: Sometimes their music turns into rhythm and blues music and sometimes it turns into civil rights songs.
Why I like Catholics Better than Protestants: Sometimes their most ambitious and complex young people turn into Bruce Springsteen and Madonna.
PS: go to clinicaltrials.gov and you'll see MDMA is being tested in a number of different therapeutic contexts. This doesn't mean you should use it an unsupervised fraternity context
I suppose I might try it once if my caregivers were down.
And as for Bruce Springsteen, he was booed off the stage at Villanova University in 1974.He showed up looking like some scurvy, dirty greaser/wannabe biker and the educated, upper class students at that school knew he was a bad influence. People like him are only meant for the working class, trashy lowdown people. People with money and education go to the ballet, the symphony and the opera. They don't go anywhere near Bruce Springsteen or Madonna. Those trashy characters are for the lowlife masses.
Deadmau5 has called madge out on that very thing.
looking forward to hearing her divorce album if thats really what MDNA is.
Joe- Proceed to "I Don't Give A" for proof IMO. A brilliant kiss off song. Nikki's lines provide some counterpunch and support "..never let them stress you/ I ain't a buisness woman/ I'm a buisness, woman!/ and I'm known for giving bitches the business, woman."
(A quick note on a previous subject. Irked that I lauded Peter Green but wasn't able to point to a truly satisfactory introduction, I'm checking out the four-disc career retrospective called, with less than top creativity, The Anthology. Yes, it's too inclusive to make a proper intro, but is good for hardcore fans. Except for one shortfall -- the sound on the early sides is a tad wonky, muffled. This matters a great deal sometimes. The John Mayall Bluesbreakers recordings have notorious problems, but my deluxe reissue of A Hard Road proves they can be overcome. And the record includes some fundamental Green triumphs, the apex being his instrumental feature "The Supernatural." When Green hits his final, long, long keening sustained note -- the whole number is an incantation, really -- the air above your head should open up so you can see the ocean of spirits flowing invisibly right through this world. That doesn't happen with the Anthology version. On the other slowhand, Green's latter-day Splinter Group recordings are beautifully remastered and make a good case that, while the flame is gone, the touch remains.)
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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