The genesis of this, once again, was 25+ hours in a car, which was followed up on with an additional 12 hrs on a subsequent trip. The last list chronicled the albums that didn't work at all for us -- this list is for those songs that needed a listen outside of the car, as they weren't working in that setting but weren't immediate castoffs.
One note: these ones are out of the mix for getting into the car, as they didn’t grab me the first time there. Make sense?In alphabetical order:
- The Band - The Band (1969). Pat has noted that it is a bit odd to review something that is in the past, but if it's new to me, then you get to hear about it. I love Robbie Robertson's solo stuff but have never gotten into The Band as a group. The VH1 Classic show about the making of this album was so great that I had to give this one a shot. I knew this one was in trouble when I realized I've never been totally in love with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and that "Up on Cripple Creek" tends to annoy the crap out of me as I cannot get it out of my head. It just sounds like it was a great album for its time, but that time has passed (at least for me) -- the exception is that "Whispering Pines" is a beautiful, timeless song, and "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" is very simple but absolutely fantastic. They did do a nice job with re-mastering it -- it sounds great.Verdict: Sell-back pile 1.
- Billy Bragg – Talking with the Taxman About Poetry (1986; re-issue with bonus disc, 2006). My RA my freshman year in college played “Greetings to the New Brunette” so many times that my floormates would often break out into “Shir-leeeeeeee… I celebrate my love for you/with a pint of beer and a new tattoo,” which is all you really need to know about how brilliant a storyteller Billy Bragg is.
After hearing “A New England” on the Left of the Dial compilation, I realized I needed to re-visit ol’ Billy. I was not disappointed. Think Aztec Camera’s first album if it were a little more acoustical. “The Marriage” is one of those songs that you have to believe he lived – how else could he could up with this stuff?And he’s slightly political (“there’s more to Parliament/than sitting on your ass”). Needless to say, we love this guy. Not a dud on the album.
Verdict: Highly recommended. Portable CD case.
- Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of this Country (2006)
.It’s bright sunshiny day. You haven’t got a care in the world. You’re walking through the park at an easy pace with a smile on your face – I’m starting to rhyme and I like it – at times even breaking into a fast walk. If you could accompany this with a pop music soundtrack of guitar, strings, piano, accordion, and an angelic voice that crosses Harriett Wheeler (The Sundays) and Dusty Springfield, you’d be listening to Camera Obscura.
Verdict: Highly recommended. Portable CD case.
- The Cult – Born Into This (2007). Yes, this is the “She Sells Sanctuary” Cult. Essentially the group is lead singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, with an ever-rotating list of players in the bass and drums spots, as it has been for the last 25 years. So it makes perfect sense that this album should start with drums and bass leading off the first track. This is a decent album, although not as good as their 2002 comeback album Beyond Good and Evil* (which I would put in the category of Electric, Love, and Sonic Temple). This one falls short of that group, but is a solid album with some nice songs (“Dirty Little Rockstar,” “Illuminated”) ; if you are a Cult fan you will enjoy this.
Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD case.*(They actually released 2 albums in the 90's, but they were so terrible that I pretend they never happened. Even writing this sentence gives me a repressed-memory headache.)
- The Hooters - Time Stand Still (2007). I recently re-discovered the pop genius (yes, I said GENIUS) that is The Hooters’ Nervous Night. After you’ve stopped laughing and give the album a spin, you will probably react the same way Mrs. Snilch Report did: “Are all these songs from the same album?” The answer, of course, is “Hell yes!” So, in a moment of lack of impulse control that seems to accompany every trip I make to a CD store, I bought The Hooters’ 2007 album (which was amongst new releases, in my defense – I did not go looking for it). This was a terrible mistake. I’m not sure what happened to these guys, but I know 2 things: 1) I haven’t heard a thing from these guys in 20 years, and 2) now I know why. The 3rd song on the album is a Don Henley cover, which is all you need to know. And it’s a bad cover at that.
Verdict: Pile of Death material.
- Various - I’m Not There Soundtrack (2007). This is a soundtrack for the Bob Dylan movie by the same name. I bought this 2-disc set hoping I could get into some of his material. Conclusion: I am not a Dylan fan. Not for me, but maybe if you love Dylan you’d love this (like Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney does). I can’t really rate this otherwise.Verdict: Inconclusive.