Jamey Johnson/G.O.O.D. Music
Jamey Johnson: Livin' for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran (Mercury)
Most likely the smattering of albums by the Nashville pro who came up with "I Fall to Pieces" and "Make the World Go Away" deserves one of those Rhino cherrypicks of yore. But there's a reason he had more success as a songwriter than a singer, and this collection of 15 duets and a solo showcase makes a nice alternative. Although it may omit other semi-classics as well-turned as ("If she's anything like her memory . . .") "She'll Be Back" and (jukebox not route number) "A-11," both new ones on me, I actively miss only "She's Got You" and "It Ain't Love, but It Ain't Bad." And vocally, duet partners from 41-year-old Alison Krauss to 86-year-old Ray Price outdo themselves keeping the young powerhouse in check‑-only on the ill-advised showcase does Johnson get to show off. In fact, when Merle Haggard steps to the mic it can be hard to tell them apart, which is a credit to both‑-one they owe to the guy whose motto was "I always try to make it short, make it sweet, and make it rhyme." A MINUS
G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam)
Lyrically, Kanye & Assoc. do little more than add ho and gangsta sidebars to the boss's core philosophy: "Conspicuous Consumption Equals Authentic Negritude." Usual suspects Pusha T and Raekwon sound better working this con than young jurks Big Sean and Chief Keef, and there's cleverness all around, with my pick the boss chorus "We flier than a parakeet/Floating with no parachute/Six thousand dollar pair of shoes/We made it to the Paris news." But close attention to the rhyming reveals all too clearly that the philosophy has gotten even lamer than it was to begin with. The surprise is that the attention requires so little effort, because there's always a musical touch to keep you alert: strings chamber and pizzicato, shouts and murmurs, cackles and whoos, glitches of every description, and a predictably unpredictable panoply of percussives. As with the virtual naturescapes in Samuel Delany's Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand, you may never touch Gucci, but you'll know the texture of luxury just the same. And that better the hell be enough. B PLUS
Re: the "I don't read" question, I agree that one shouldn’t necessarily take this one, purported statement of Young's at face value. Sometimes, and maybe depending on their personae, musical artists seem reluctant to discuss their extra-musical influences. I once heard an interview with Leonard Cohen on KCRW's Bookworm wherein he politely declined to talk about the writers who had influenced him, and he, of course, is a published novelist and poet. If the real question is whether a putative non-reader could write a book worth reading, I might also submit Chuck Berry's autobio into evidence. Wilkinson's tone is definitely, as our host suggests, "faux-naive" in its "For me, books open up new worlds" blather. (AW seems like a somewhat oily character.) And sometimes, of course, artists and non-artists alike have an intensive and formative reading period in their younger years but may not maintain the habit. Cormac McCarthy and Philip Roth both claim *not* to have read a novel in years. Are they lying? Does it matter?
Tin Huey- Contents Dislodged During Shipment
Still artful, rockin', & funny after all these years.
Also on the docket today- Rachel Sweet- Fool Around "remastered"
What a great pop voice she has, and what it could do with the right material. This album still sounds amazing, and it's even better since being remastered. This 2007 version now follows the UK Stiff release track listing including 5 previously omitted songs "Truckstop Queen", a cover of Devo's "Be Stiff" , and "Tourist Boys". I still don't know why the American version omitted "Just My Style" but that's back on this version too as the lead off track. It's a big upgrade over the US version.
My words for Wilkinson's Neil Young review would be "amateur diagnosis", unless he is a board-certified psychologist in which case I would say "professional diagnosis written in book review format."
Not that that's a bad thing, although if I were Neil it would read like one cold shot after another to me, since we generally know that good criticism involves any number of insights from other disciplines -- psychological, sociological, political, financial, even criminological in some instances. And his case made throughout the seventh paragraph (The one that starts with "After the ride it occurred to me that his lack of reading accounted for some few of his lyrics being insipid or sentimental.") is pretty good criticism, and even enlightening in its smallish way, but he loses his grip toward the end of the 8th paragraph when he asserts that "He just seems lost and mute when he might have brought a scene or a person to life, as if there were nothing more to prose writing than listing and noting." The brutal imagery in "Pocahontas" and "Powderfinger" contradict that opinion, as do the sweet sentiments of "Prime of Life", "When God Made Me", "The Way", "After the Gold Rush", and "Birds" . Throw "Grey Riders", and pretty much all of Trans into the argument and the claim about listing and noting gets mighty weak. (I'm sure you all have your own personal list. That's part of mine.)
Also, paragraphs two and three, the "why reading is important" paragraphs, should have been three sentences total.
There. I feel better now.
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.
live local music on
Enter your ZIP code to see concerts happening in your area.
Data provided by Zvents