Sing Me the Songs/Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer
The old ways have their good points
Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle (Nonesuch)
The ritual passing of the songbook from tart old folkies to sweet-and-sour showbiz kids worked better as theater, where we don't get to re-examine the performances, than it does as recorded music, where we're able to ponder just how the kids remodeled the house and put in that piano-shaped hot tub. But though Rufus's and especially Martha's oversinging stretches some of Mom's songs well beyond their limits, it's a hell of a songbook, and in the end it's the lesser material that fares worse, not the less experienced performers. Aunt Peggy Seeger is no more impressive than the youngish gender mixers whose names you'll forget again without the credits, and it's a shock to realize that a youngish gender mixer whose name you know delivers a "Go Leave" more heart-wrenching than Richard and Linda Thompson's. Almost as shocking is that the next best thing isn't a Kate song. It's Chaim Tannenbaum and the gang's "Travelling On for Jesus." A MINUS
Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer: Child Ballads (Wilderland)
The 305 canonical English and Scottish ballads are obviously good tunes‑-time-tested, one might say. And these seven are pretty much unchanged, too. Yet subtle fiddle, accordion, pump organ, and especially bass liven up the acoustic guitars just a touch, and both Mitchell's fluting, childlike lead and Hamer's mellower follow avoid purist sanctity as well as modernizing pizzazz. If only I could swear the presentation is so beguiling I keep the plots in mind. But I will say that the two about mean parents thwarting true love speak more directly to my spirit and conscience than the one about the fine lords going down on their very own Titanic, and point out that what saves the princess-laying Willie of Winsbury is he's R-I-C-H rich. B PLUS
Happy Birthday to Dave "not Serengeti" Cohen. Haven't heard from you in awhile, hope all is well.
Sadly Martha Redbone is bypassing Seattle on her west coast stint. Playing festivals up near Vancouver but doubt I'll go that far.
In the case of the article that was linked to below, I agree with you. But I'm not sure how parodic some of his other stuff is meant to be. For example, on his blog he has an ongoing assault on Drake, whom he legitimately seems to hate, that involves a constant assault on his perceived lack of manhood. In his review of "Take Care" (1 Zeus Slap out of 5) he says things like " this **** was a crime against heterosexuality", "This song is too much homosex", "cos ni**a you be gay" &c. &c., all as part of a critical assault on Drake and his music. Maybe this is all offered in an entirely parodic spirit, but it's not at all clear to me that that's the case. Most of his commenters certainly don't take it that way at least.
Anyway, I'm not trying to draw anyone into an argument. I LIKE the guy and I'm not particularly offended by what he writes but I don't think it's by any means clear where his values lie on the issue of homophobic language in hip hop. Maybe I'm missing something though and would welcome being set straight by people who know his work better ('cause, like I said, I really wanna like the guy).
Won't be checking out Mos Def-I had trouble
watching ER-but my knee jerk reaction is-would we rather they starved themselves to death?
I stand to be corrected. Take a shot.
PS Current thread- wtf are you people talking about?-and I'm glad you've found something.
PPS No more Milo-like ever?
Fraptron: Gilles Vigneault is more of a folkie and doesn't sing anywhere near as pretty as the McGarrigles do, but some of his stuff is in the same ballpark.
Incidentally, Vigneault was a big influence on (and eventual collaborator to) Robert Charlebois, who I'm very pleased to see is on Sing Me The Songs. Charlebois was kind of a Dylan figure in Quebec in the 60s - pryor to his going electric, the separation in Quebec between chansonniers and ye-ye (folk and pop) was absolute and what rock and roll there was involved cheerfully featherweight copying of US/UK hits. Instead of using The Band for his electric move, he went for a scrappy, ramshackle free jazz quartet trying to go psychedelic, and managed to get a massive hit single (the very spacey "Lindberg") out of it, with hippie chick Louise Forestier moaning and muttering curse words in the background. 1968's Robert Charlebois Louise Forestier LP is where the transformation took place - beware the re-recorded version. Later, he would sell out spectacularly (and sometimes entertainingly) - the artwork of Swing Charlebois Swing and Super Position is entirely unironic and will tell you everything you need to know on that topic.
"The theme of If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O came from a more modern melody: the Doors’ tune Strange Days Have Tracked Us Down. I thought: Suppose "strange days" tracked everybody down one summer in an east Tennessee village. For the Baby Boomers it is their 20th high school reunion, forcing them to come to terms with their shortcomings; for the sheriff and his deputy, it is the memory of Vietnam, which haunts them both but for different reasons; and for Peggy Muryan, the once-famous folksinger, strange days track her down in the form of a stalker who still remembers her days of celebrity. For Appalachia itself, the Strange Days refer to the time when the traditional folkways began to be lost in the onslaught of the modern media culture. Child ballads gave way to the Top 40; quilts featured cartoon character designs; and the distinctiveness of the region began to erode as it was bombarded by outside influences. In each case "Strange Days" meant the Sixties."
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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