There are thousands of whiny emokids complaining -- or perhaps boasting -- in song about how they can't find love because nobody understands them, nobody feels their pain, nobody even feels pain as intensely as they do. They don't know shit about pain. They should all be locked in their rooms and made to listen to Jennifer O'Connor; it should be decreed that their creative efforts will not be issued until they pack at least a tenth of the power of O'Connor's stoic songs. O'Connor is our great poet of loss, and next to her all-enveloping, richly textured music and profoundly moving lyrics, their shallow songs are as but the buzzing of small, annoying insects. Read more »
Had Morrissey taken a vow of silence, and Marr left his guitar in a battered, stickered case, the legacy of the Smiths would stand secure. The Lennon and McCartney of indie rock created an almost divine catalog of songs, a soundtrack for the lives of others, a perfect collision of hope and sorrow. This timely compilation acts as a perfect reminder of the glories flown, and will likely convert certain stragglers from among the uninitiated. The Smiths already are a generation distant. Read more »
It might be hard to believe nowadays, when (not counting the occasionally hip-hop aberration) major record labels consider December a dumping ground for failed projects, but thirty years ago good albums by top-tier artists used to be released mere weeks before Christmas. Take Minute by Minute, for example. The Doobie Brothers had had ten Top 40 singles in the five years before it was released in December 1978, so they were certainly stars. And its release date was no commercial handicap: Not only did it hold the No. 1 album slot for six consecutive weeks and sell over three million copies, it spawned three Top 25 singles: "What a Fool Believes" (#1), the title track (#14), and "Dependin' on You" (#25), and the Doobies cleaned up at the 1980 Grammy Awards with four trophies. Read more »
Paul Reddick: Sugar Bird (northernblues) High praise was awarded for Reddick's previous outings. The "hard blues for modern times" themed Rattlebag (2001) with his band The Sidemen featured muscular arrangements with relentless guitars and Reddick's powerful amplified harmonica style. The music steered clear of cliches, with Reddick's intensely poetic lyrics creating sort of a thinking person's ZZ Top quality.
McCoy Tyner, born in Philadelphia on December 11, 1938, celebrates his 70th birthday this week. He established his reputation as an integral part of the classic John Coltrane Quartet from 1960 through 1965, creating an archetypal dense, modal style; in the past 45 years, only Herbie Hancock among living pianists can compare to Tyner in influence.
The great French composer Olivier EugÃ¨ne Prosper Charles Messiaen was born in Avignon on December 10, 1908. He was the first son of extraordinary parents: CÃ©cile Sauvage, his mother, was a poet of note, and his father, Pierre Messiaen, was an English teacher who translated Shakespeareâ€™s plays into French. At the precocious age of eleven Olivier entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied with Paul Dukas, Charles-Marie Widor, and Marcel DuprÃ© â€“ a famed composer and two famous organists â€“ and, most crucially, Maurice Emmanuel, who though not as well known as the above-named would prove to have arguably the greatest influence on Messiaenâ€™s music through Emmanuelâ€™s interests in birdsong and scales and rhythms of other cultures, notably India and ancient Greece. Read more »
Adam Gussow and Sterling â€œMr. Satanâ€ Magee were a fixture in New York City in the late '80s and early '90s: a young, white, Princeton-educated harmonica player and a black, experienced Mississippi-born blues/soul veteran who sang while simultaneously playing electric guitar and percussion. They eventually got club gigs, but they started out playing on the streets of Harlem, where Magee had been playing regularly and Gussow sat in one day in 1986 and, after a good response from the crowd (the tip bucket got filled), they became a team. Read more »
When I first heard the news, my heart jumped ever so slightly. I was so excited that Universal were releasing one of their famed Deluxe Edition versions of an album I loved, R.E.M.'s 1983 full-length debut, Murmur. "What cool gems had they unearthed?" I wondered. Sure, there had been many before, enough that I had been able to compile my own nine-track compilation of B-sides and extras, but I didn't have access to their vaults. My mind reeled with possibilities.
Virtuosity comes with its own perils. Compound that with prodigy, and you're in some tricky waters. Too often flash substitutes for feeling, spectacle for connection, hoopla for art. Twenty-six-year-old Hungarian pianist Adam Gyorgy flirted with all of the above at his recent Carnegie Hall recital, but, happily, the marks of a true artist won out.
His chops are amazing, and we got fireworks galore, barn burners such as Liszt's Rhapsody No. 2 delivered with articulate aplomb. Read more »
Enrico Pieranunzi, who will turn 59 in five weeks, is an Italian jazz pianist of formidable and varied talents. The Musica Jazz criticâ€™s poll named him Musician of the Year in 1989 and 2003, and in 1997 he received the Django dâ€™Or Award as best European jazz musician. But given the record industryâ€™s lack of interest in jazz and Americansâ€™ lack of interest in jazz artists from other countries, his career has not received the attention it deserves. Read more »
Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia
The Sound of Philadelphia: Gamble & Huffâ€™s Greatest Hits
Conquer the World: The Lost Soul of Philadelphia International Records
Patti LaBelle: The Essential Patti LaBelle
Patti LaBelle: Live in Washington, D.C.
The Oâ€™Jays: The Essential Oâ€™Jays
The Oâ€™Jays: Back Stabbers
Teddy Pendergrass: Teddy Pendergrass
Teddy Pendergrass: Life Is a Song Worth Singing Read more »
Of Montreal plays the music that you have to hope young people are listening to, and Roseland revelers brought that hope to fruition Friday night. Playing at close to capacity the band from Athens, Georgia rocked the audience, bringing back some of the former glory of the old dance hall. I havenâ€™t sweated that much at a concert in while, but itâ€™s hard not to when you have over three thousand fans bouncing and jumping in a crazed frenzy of music-endued energy. Read more »
When was the last time you saw a new CD that comes with a supporting quote from Mark Twain? "I think that Polk Miller and his wonderful four, is about the only thing the country can furnish that is originally and utterly American. Possibly it can furnish something more enjoyable, but I must doubt it until I forget that musical earthquake, 'The Watermelon Party.'" Read more »
For the practicing agnostic or atheist in search of a religious experience, Nick Cave might be the high priest youâ€™re looking for. Tales of sorrow, loss, hope, and murder tempered with Biblical allusions made for an entertaining evening at the venue formerly called WaMu Theater this past Saturday night.
Nick Cave summons faint memories of Frank Zappa, surrounding himself with a small army of expert musicians who he conducts from center stage as he commands most of the attention for the evening. Read more »
Few jazz innovators or heroes of the avant-garde are as little known beyond the cognoscenti as Dixon. An utterly distinctive trumpeter who pioneered the use of extremely non-standard timbres on his instrument, he is also an improviser and composer of boundless imagination who applied that adventurous deployment of timbres to works of uncompromising artistry with a painterly sense of color and abstraction unlike anyone else's jazz. Read more »