Odds and Ends 001
Ruth Gerson: Deceived (Wrong)
Nine dead women, a stillborn baby girl, a male suicide, and whatever got thrown off the Tallahatchee Bridge ("Knoxville Girl," "Little Sadie") ***
Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs: No Help Coming (Transdreamer)
Down-and-out from inside out, quasi-Appalachian style ("No Help Coming," "Lord Knows We're Drinking") ***
Jonny Corndawg: Down on the Bikini Line (Nasty Memories)
Filthy and whimsical, a strange combo anywhere, is even stranger in a Brooklyn weirdo who pretends to sing country music‑-and does, pretty much ("Life of a Bear," "Shaved [Like a Razor]") ***
Amy LaVere: Stranger Me (Archer)
She has a small voice for a roots-targeted gal with too much pride to boop up songs that miss the bull's-eye ("Damn Love Song," "Stranger Me") ***
Rod Picott: Welding Burns (no label)
Hard labor and its grimy fruits ("Sheetrock Hanger," "Welding Burns") **
Blake Shelton: Red River Blue (Warner Bros.)
Although his big voice bogs down making his songwriters' big emotions sound deep, their jokes he's got the attitude for ("Hey," "Get Some") **
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside: Dirty Radio (Partisan)
Appalled by robot radio, 10,000 cellphone conversations, and the premature death of Polaroid photography, she hooks up with a stand-up bassist and sings the way she imagines witchy mountain women do‑-or rather, did ("Thirteen Years Old," "Write Me a Letter") **
Martina McBride: Eleven (Republic Nashville)
Megacorny about the right things, including breast cancer, 17-year-old daughters, and connubial love ("I'm Gonna Love You Through It," "Marry Me") *
Then in June, a nadir: “I don’t exactly feel suicidal, that was John Lennon’s affliction, but it’s bad enough. Never in eight years of compulsive record-checking have I been less interested in the music I get in the mail.”
The author then wonders if Xgau's piece early in 76 could be read as the Dean's Essay . . . there Xgau is exercised over Born to Run and the whole emergent business of rock criticism. But you can read for yourselves - thank you Sam Ubl, Class of 2008.
Where is the Dean's List for 75? (Not on Tom's site.)
If anyone has a copy of the 1975 Pazz & Jop year-end essay and/or Dean's List, please copy and send to me. I don't recall why they're missing other than the generic excuse that they weren't in my files.
1. Bob Dylan/the Band - The Basement Tapes
2. Best of Dolly Parton
3. Al Green’s Greatest Hits
4. James Talley - Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, but We Sure Got a Lot of Love
5. Neil Young - Tonight’s the Night
6. Patti Smith - Horses
7. Bonnie Raitt - Home Plate
8. Bob Marley & the Wailers - Natty Dread
9. Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
10. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
And although Dean's Lists don't exist prior to 1970, I'd be very surprised if the following artists didn't also rate two albums in Xgau's Top 10 for these years:
The Beatles - Rubber Soul, Beatles VI
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It All Back Home
Otis Redding - Otis Blue, Sings Soul Ballads
Rolling Stones - Now!, Out of Our Heads, December's Children
The Beatles - Revolver, Yesterday and Today
Otis Redding - Dictionary of Soul, The Soul Album
The Beach Boys - Wild Honey, Smiley Smile
Rolling Stones - Between the Buttons, Flowers
Otis Redding - Immortal, Dock of the Bay
Aretha - Lady Soul, Aretha Now
burraburrahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incredible_Shrinking_Manmake less of it.
G of 4 - how could I forget that one? You got it Bradley!Do you ever wonder how our brains retain this information? I can rattle off which jazz musicians are at certain recording sessions, or list every album by a particular band in chronological order, and yet when I meet someone, I will forget their name immediately. I also thought I was 27 for 18 months before my wife reminded me that I'd had a birthday. There are distant family members I've seen once a year for much of my life and I still have to work overtime to remember their names at all, let alone which is which. And yet, Gang of Four, 1981. WTF brain?! WTF?!
Mekons in '89 - Original Sin and Rock n Roll
Al Green in '73 - Call Me and Livin for You
Van in 1970, Northern State in 2002
Graham Parker in '76, Ramones in '77
Oops, gotta run: the shrinking man's about to get attacked by his pet cat!Aptly enough, the novel the movie came from is one of the great odd-fiction (not quite science-fiction) works of mid-century American lit.
G of 4 in 1981 - how could I forget that one? You got it Bradley!
Also - Bowie in 1976 - Station to Station and Changesonebowie
And how about Dylan in '75 - Blood on the Tracks and Basement Tape
has there been another Year-End Xgau Top 10 with TWO records by the same artist?Gang of Four in... 1981? Solid Gold and the EP from the same year. Am I right? (EDIT: I see now that they're both top ten in the book, but EPs are separated into separate lists for Pazz & Jop. :(
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.