Sunday, February 23, 2014
2013 Picks Too
Country, with Americana The recent Grammy Awards agreed with my pick for Country album (we don't often match), choosing the saucy, sexy debut disc from "pert 'n' purty" Kacey Musgraves, her album boldly titled Same Trailer Different Park (Mercury B0018029-02, I think) and exhibiting sufficient white trash talk and post-Miranda attitude to launch another ready-for-primetime Nashvillainous career. Some titles here--"Blowin' Smoke," "Step Off," "Keep It to Yourself," "Stupid"--tell that part of her tale: smart lyrics, fine tunes, a solid opening salvo. As Miz Kacey concludes, "It Is What It Is."
Plenty more salvos in my choice for across-the-boards album of the year: Divided & United (ATO Records 2CD set #0882188429) which commemorates/celebrates 34 pieces of "popular" music from the 150-year-old American Civil War/War of
And after that exhausting sentence, let's just point to several of the most striking discoveries and performances awaiting your attention... Loretta Lynn launches and amazes with "Take Your Gun and Go, John." Del McCoury immortalizes "Lorena,"
Reggae got Soul Despite fine younger artists like Etana, Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage and such, 2012's releases in honor of Jamaica's half-century of independence continued to adumbrate and dominate most of my listening. To hear some of the island's all-time best, lend your ears to (1) VP Records' 3CD set VPCD1962, Out of Many: 50 Years of Reggae Music, sending 51 hot & solid cinders--from Lord Creator to Lady Saw, the Skatalites to Cocoa Tea, Alton Ellis to Mr. Vegas, Junior Byles to Gyptian, and Eek-a-Mouse to Elephant Man... BlueBeat, RockSteady, Dance Hall, Roots & Culture...
No other record company, not even Germany's venerated (but oh so expensive) Bear Family, does as good a job keeping the spirit--and reality--of '60s Soul Music
(1) A Road Leading Home: Songs by Dan Penn (Ace CDCHD 1370), whether written solo or in collaboration, offers a splendiferous harvest of hits Penned by the top white-boy Soulster, including "Dark End of the Street," "Almost Persuaded," "Rainbow Road," "You Left the Water Running," "Do Right Woman," and "Like a Road Leading Home," as interpreted by Irma Thomas, Percy Sledge, James and Bobby Purify, the Drifters, Ted Taylor, Esther Phillips, and so many more. Likewise, (2) Rolling with the Punches: The Allen Toussaint Songbook (Ace CDCHD 1354) features Lee Dorsey, the Meters, Millie Jackson, the Judds, Aaron Neville, Solomon Burke, Bonnie Raitt,
Woody'n you, Bob? Last year was the hundredth anniversary of Woody Guthrie's birth, and the Guthrie Foundation celebrated by moving West to those Oklahoma hills folks used to sing about--and by issuing a few special repackagings honoring the works of Woody, most importantly the 6CD+DVD set on Rounder Records called Woody
As for Bob the temporary acolyte, he's well-served by Columbia/Legacy 2CD set 8883 73487 2, Volume 10 in the legal bootleg series, titled Another Self Portrait (1969-1971). When the original Self appeared way back, there was great consternation; critic Greil Marcus infamously thundered, "What is this shit!?!" Calmer fans speculated that Bob had lost his edge in the motorcycle accident, or was passing off studio rejects to satisfy his contract for so much "product," or was thumbing his nose at the Columbia Records bosses, or...
Looking back now, listening to this ear-opening array of alternates and rarities, it seems more likely that Bob was trying to get back to his Greenwich Village roots, pay belated homage to early folk mentors, take a gentler, post electric-rock