The Human Hearts/Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby
Full disclosure: I know both Franklin and Amy (a little)
The Human Hearts: Another (Shrimper)
A John Darnielle sideman and philosophy Ph.D. who wrote a 33 1/3 on Elvis C.'s Armed Forces, Franklin Bruno knows pop from the beginning‑-19th-century sheet music. He delivers these songs with a brass-tacks brio that recalls the songsmith-sung demos on a Cole Porter comp and also plays all keyboards and most guitars. Love the Costello-without-shame opener and the title tune that's all quarter-of-three Sinatra. But my favorites on this consistently and straightforwardly songful album are the rocking "Cheap Sunglasses," about the girlfriend he saw through, and the rhumbaing "Not Just When We Kiss," about the one he stuck with. It's not Brad Paisley's "Then." But it belongs on the same mixtape. A MINUS
Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby: A Working Museum (Southern Domestic)
Three by Eric with two excellent, four by Amy with all excellent and one or two on her life list, four collaborations with woozier results except on the penultimate "Tropical Fish," which is blown away forthwith by Amy's "Do You Remember That," the love song of the year if "Not Just When We Kiss" isn't. The couple share a sense of detail that grounds even the vaguer songs‑-Sanskrit tattoo, Kajagoogoo radio, sombrero too big for the overhead. Plus, oh yeah, their scrabbling, high-talented, headstrong lives. A MINUS
I guess that's an acknowledgement of the value of technology and instant access, but what it's intended to be is a compliment to Bob for how astonishingly well he does those long forms, chock-a-block with info and with critical assessment. Or to steal from his Townshend book review, his writing gathers "explanatory mojo" by focusing on, packing in, layering, and then re-layering explanatory content.
Alexander -- I promise to learn how to read...if you promise to learn how to write. Well.
I notice that you jumped back to our climate 20,000 years ago as though it were a static entity while totally ignoring the 20,000 years of climate patterns since then. I didn't say look at the weather as it was 20,000 years ago; rather, I said look at the weather over the past 20,000 years (or 2000 years, or 200,000 years--take your pick). Examine the weather over the past 2000 years, 20,000 years, or 200,000 years and see how it has fluctuated over extremely long periods of time.
"Minute changes over long periods of time are one thing, but rapid changes in a small period of time (and the possible reasons for them) is another."
And we haven't had rapid changes in climate before, as in well before the industrial revolution?
"As for your "Atlantic coast" lunacy, I'm fairly certain denizens of Miami have been more threatened by hurricanes in the last 100 years than those in Hoboken."
You do realize that you're the one defining the Atlantic Coast for me? I never said that the Atlantic Coast includes only the southern seaboard states of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. You read that definition into my words and then blamed me for saying it. So now who's spouting your "Atlantic coast lunacy"? (IOW, I already know that the Atlantic Coast includes everything from Maine to Florida, and that was the definition from which I posted.)
"Or maybe you're the kind of person who really does need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows?"
No, you just need to learn how to read.
And speaking of climate change, Donald Fagen's new album has a song called "Weather In My Head" which Jason accurately describes in his most recent Cerebral Decanting Listening Notes.
And speaking of Donald Fagen, it currently occurs to me that Steely Dan was one of my earliest and firmest agreements with Bob Christgau’s writing and assessments back in the day. After being a huge fan of the first four and then less so of The Royal Scam, I was taken quite aback when all my friends did handsprings over Aja, which I thought merely indicated that they (my friends) were weak minded and fools for easy shows of sophistication. And then in some now forgotten chronological unfolding, I found this --
Aja [ABC, 1977]
Carola suggests that by now they realize they'll never get out of El Lay, so they've elected to sing in their chains like the sea. After all, to a certain kind of reclusive aesthete, well-crafted West Coast studio jazz is as beautiful as anything else, right? Only I'm no recluse. I hated this record for quite a while before I realized that, unlike The Royal Scam, it was stretching me some; I still find the solo licks of Larry Carlton, Victor Feldman, et al. too ****ing tasty, but at least in this context they mean something. I'm also grateful to find Fagen and Becker's collegiate cynicism in decline; not only is "Deacon Blues" one of their strongest songs ever, it's also one of their warmest. Now if only they'd rhymed "I cried when I wrote this song" with "Sue me if I play it wrong," instead of "Sue me if I play too long." Preferring long to wrong could turn into their fatal flaw. B+
That people (not only my friends, but some guy who I just read today in fact) mooned over the title song but ignored the much superior “Deacon Blue” became a sort of litmus test of musical aptitude to me. So much so that by then as a died-in-the-wool Christgauvian, when Kamakiriad came around in 1993 and Bob didn’t A list it, I didn’t even bother with it. Nor did I with Morph the Cat. To find out later that they were the last two-thirds of a trilogy that began with the still excellent Nightfly was both a surprise and let down. Made me think that Fagen himself was weak minded and a fool for easy shows of sophistication.
So this week, after buying the new one, Sunken Condos, from Jason’s recommendation and then adding the five Fagen songs Bob did recommend from Kamakiriad and Morph the Cat, I can conclude that, if those were the five best songs from those two albums, this new one is much better.
Gentlemen, may I suggest an across-the-aisle compromise?
When did "global warming" become "climate change?" When the temperatures stopped going up after 1998. Since the globe wasn't warming, the term "global warming" rightly came to be ridiculed. By calling it "climate change," everyone played it safe since the climate is always changing, that being the very nature of climate. Maybe it's time to switch "climate change" to something new. Something we can all agree upon. And I think I have it: "Climate Wassup!"
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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