Ashley Monroe/Kellie Pickler
Putting in the care
Run through these nine originals a few times and eventually you'll accept that the Pistol Annies are a trio for good reason and her solo debut is unlikely to top "Two Weeks Late," which is about the rent only in the end it isn't. Then slowly you'll realize just how rare it is for a major-label Nashville hopeful to put this much care into every song even if you're not convinced by the one that connects whipped cream and whips. Then you'll check out co-writes‑-Guy Clark, Lori McKenna, hmm. And then you'll wonder who Sally Barris is, 'cause she helped out on a heartsong called "Used" that completes if not tops "Two Weeks Late." A MINUS
Kellie Pickler: 100 Proof (XIX/BNA)
American Idol haunts this artistic breakthrough, a sense that she'll always sing what she's told no matter how many composition credits she bags‑-six out of 11 here, including only one of the three tough-talking openers without which I'd never have gotten to where "Long As I Never See You Again" started showing its muscle. But if making nice comes all too naturally, the ones about the daughter she doesn't have and the father she was stuck with say that love is something she's willing to tough out. B PLUS
Back in my serious record collecting days (mid to late '80s), I would spend one day almost every weekend making the rounds of local record stores on Long Island - the whole day. Me and one of my two music-nut friends would load up the car with junk food and hit the road around 10am and follow my homemade map with stops at (almost) every decent record store on the island. I lost the map (unfortunately - would have been a nice keepsake) but I do have the list of stores I'd visit - Titus Oaks Huntington Station (down the road from me - I'd go there almost every other day after school), Titus Oaks Hicksville, Whirlin Disc in Farmingdale (picked up James Brown's Sex Machine and Live at Apollo Vol II on King there), Record Stop in Lake Ronkonkoma, Mr. Cheapo in Commack and Mr. Cheapo II in Mineola (along with Titus, I got the majority of my collection here - all cheap and all in near-mint condition), Memory Lane in Baldwin (the owner would spin whatever you asked - you could tell he was a big fan and was selling his collection little by little), as well as Tower Records in Melville (also down the street and sorely missed). There were others (Slipped Disc, Music Trand, Record Collection) but those were the best ones.
My record-hunting treks into Manhattan were often solo trips as I would stop at the mid-town Manhattan Public Library first to copy old CGs from their Village Voice collection (and only I had the patience for that). I recall finding some great stuff at Downtown Music (Papa Wemba's L'Esclave for $5), Venus Records, Final Vinyl, Rocks in Your Head, St. Mark's Sounds, Revolver and others. HMV and Tower were great for buying new stuff, as was Other Music for the obscure new releases. But my favorite record store of all was Jazz Record Center at 236 West 26th Street. Not sure if it's still there but I found loads of hard-to-find-elsewhere jazz and blues there and would typically come back with a dozen "finds" after a couple hours in there. Ah, the days of record-collecting....I remember I found Big Star's Radio City for $2 once. Heartbreakers LAMF for a buck.
Or else I was just a Tuge about it --
thought the place was hard to find
was not all that knocked out by the selections
never hung around long enough to bask in any attitude
Always found the nugget-hunting more productive at Other Music.
"Bonnie Tyler to sing for Britain at Eurovision"- a Total Eclipse of the Art.
[Looking out the window ...]
Whenever you get anxiety about how people feel about you, consider Old Dad Winter.
Sure he has his beauty moments, but nobody likes him.
Even so, he keeps comin' around, every year.
(Great song, anyway.)
(We and you being used generically.)
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.