Corin Tucker Band/Robyn
Keeping Your Hand In Meets Seize the Time
The Corin Tucker Band: 1,000 Years (Kill Rock Stars)
A deep, pained, sober, subtle album about a marriage in the throes of geographical separation‑-and then families out of money, lives out of gas, pasts out of reach. Throughout, guitarist-etc. Seth Lorinczi provides the right shades of darkness‑-sometimes enticing, sometimes engulfing‑-as Sleater-Kinney fans long for a bright and cleansing breakout. They get one as "Handed Love" goes out, when Corin shouts her desperation and rips off a riff, then tops the outburst with the even more rousing "Doubt." That's where first-timers will enter the record. Only later will they ask themselves just how rousing doubt can or should be‑-or so I hope, as does Tucker. A
Robyn: Body Talk (Konichiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope)
I don't hold it against her‑-in this musical economy, a Swedish disco dolly's gotta do what a Swedish disco dolly's gotta do. Nevertheless, the old codger in me is maddened by the sales strategy in which budget-priced half-hour June and September CDs are not quite subsumed by a full-priced December CD. Problem is, not counting remixes like the radio version of "Dancing With Myself," only one of the six new songs‑-namely, "Call Your Girlfriend," almost as discerning in its romantic decency as "Cry When You Get Older" on Pt. 1‑-matches up to anything on the first two, including "Cry When You Get Older," which it omits, as it does Pt. 2's "Criminal Intent" and "Include Me Out." Beyond milking obsessive fans, the idea of rounding her out commercially with a few more love songs is fine in principle. But it doesn't play to her strength, which is mindful defiance‑-club escapism that knows where it's coming from both personally and politically, and that feels the humanity of normals and freaks alike. From "Don't F***ing Tell Me What to Do" to "We Dance to the Beat," her songwriting in that vein is as strong as anybody's. Scattered across her three 2010 CDs is one great album. How I wish this was it. A MINUS
Xgau - can you tell us?
1. I've been enjoying your wide ranging posts
2. No one else has mentioned your post about "colour vibrancy" I don't think and it made me really wonder if you know about synesthesia. If not, wikipedia's entry is a good place to start learning about this cross-sensory neurological experience. Loads of famous folks have spoken of having synesthesia, including Duke Ellington and Pharrell Williams from the Neptunes.
Walter: If you don't want to answer, please don't, but I have been wondering where "over here" is, especially considering your Rachid Taha comment from earlier today.
p.s.: Still working on Julian Bream. Haven't quite found the words yet.
Walter: You’re probably right. In fact, the whole second list was probably unnecessary to the main point. Some venting on my part.
Allen: I agree with you, so you must be brilliant. H-h-h!! Patti Smith is exactly who I would have chosen to do Janis’ HOF introduction.
Not that my previous comments intended to criticize Melissa Etheridge personally. I’m sure she’s a swell person and her cancer recovery and gender politics stance are much to be admired. But as a musician, her talent is such a mild representation of Janis’ gift and persona. If anyone, I criticize the committee or individual who selected her.
And I think that your snowball’s-chance of alternate reality for Janis’ maturation is more than just that. All guesswork of course, but the potential for insight is a frequent predictor of actual maturity and it sure seemed like Janis had that in buckets.
She’d be 68 a week from today.
Okay, I’m done now.
Christgau's takes on a potential canon by decade are available in his 70s and 80s record guides, but not online to the best of my knowledge. Rockcriticsarchive.com still has a Q&A from few years back which includes several shortlists, including his 60s pop (and semi-pop) faves. Here's an excerpt:
(In order, but with no artist repetitions and no jazz, that would be too hard, and by the way, I paid cash money for numbers one, three, four, and ten.)The Beatles' Second Album (Capitol)The Velvet Underground (Verve)The Shirelles' Greatest Hits (Scepter)The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (or maybe Let It Bleed) (London)Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (Atlantic)Otis Redding: The Immortal Otis Redding (Atco)The Beach Boys: Wild Honey (Capitol)Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia)The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M)The Marvelettes' Greatest Hits (Tamla)
Allen: Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that I disagreed. Far from it. I thought it was awesome that you mentioned Janis and Corin together. In fact, Corin Tucker probably comes closer to her than anybody has yet. Nobody else is even in the ball park. As great as Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, Chrissie Hynde, Neko Case, Debbie Harry, Sally Timms and Linda Thompson are, they just don't have Janis' ability to combine the basic with the cosmic. And after that, the list gets ridiculous -- Stevie Nicks, Ann Wilson, Courtney Love, Robyn? Melissa Etheridge? How could they!
Not that all of them are even trying to "replace" Janis. I just get wound up about it because I have come to believe she was such a singular talent, and is somewhat overlooked at present. Which I also believe is at least partially because there is no one else like her, therefore no comparisons to draw attention back to her.
Thanks for mentioning her. I've put the book on my birthday wish list.
p.s.: The Robyn comment was a cheap shot. Sorry.
If you’ll pardon the awkward and blunt construction, I always thought that Janis was the least well replaced dead rock star. She was earth and space equally; one foot in bluesy dirt and the other in lysergic spirituality. Nobody ever completely filled the gap she left. I mean, gimme a break, Melissa Etheridge did her RnR HOF presentation. And as much as I truly love Corin Tucker and her visceral vocal attack, she’s a den mother on this album (not that that's a bad thing), compared to Janis Joplin. Play the first three vocal notes of “Cry Baby” and guarantee me they are from this planet. Maybe, maybe not.
Having just finished a very good Janis Joplin bio by Alice Echols, I'm thinking again about the most obvious way that she resembles Corin: the vocal range, and how they deliberately use it (to the point of being very explicit about their intent in interviews) to force one's attention and begin to put across one part of what their art is about - to throw up a challenge to long-cherished "truths" about how women, and human beings, innately are and how they should live their lives. Makes me just slightly wistful for a snowball's-chance alternate reality where Janis magically took a leap in spiritual growth and managed to transcend the circle of her deep sensitivities, her addictions, the constraints of her Pearl persona and the pressures of the time and place she lived in. She then takes her sizable intelligence, growing wisdom and somewhat more manageable sensitivities and makes records with much the same spirit as Corin's latest. Maybe even as good. RIP, 40 years on.
(only a top 11 though)
What would be really awesome - and I'm sure there's not enough money in the world to get Christgau to do this (not to mention not enough of a potential readership) - would be a 60s Consumer Guide book, especially if he weighed in on albums by one-shot garage-rock bands, or by pop and r&b performers whose individual albums never get written about, like Gene Pitney or the Impressions or Mitch Ryder or tons of others.
Robert, Can you tell us what songs you would include on your version of Body Talk? I'll probably end up buying the first two EPs instead of the full-length, but I'd just as soon prefer to burn your own edited version. I agree with the comment below that half-hour cds are still worthy of album review and if the 15-minute Care Bears can make your dean's list, then I look forward to seeing where the Body Talk EPs fall on the Dean's List too.
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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