The old saw about "the first album was their best" is often true, truer than most artists want to admit. And no where in music is that state more widespread than with singer/songwriters who only have a guitar, their voice and their material and no band to hide behind. Trying to hack out a career as a solo act is a bitch. Takes guts or overweening ego to get through it. Most soloists fall prey to the natural reaction which is to pour all their best ideas into the first project. That's cool until you're faced with coming up with a second and perhaps a third record. Yet sometimes the process can reverse itself, and after a fallow period a songwriter can recharge, again have something to say, and they come through with a late season masterpiece.
There was fast food like Catalonian baguette pizza with chorizo. Tapas like flash fried baby squid or crispy potatoes with olive oil mayo and tomato sauce. And then of course there was that robber baron Rupert Murdoch and his damnable tabloid The Sun which every morning has a halfnaked twentysomething smiling at you from page two! Danni, 23, from Coventry was my personal favorite. Yes, Europe does have its advantages!
And then there was the music, right, right, the music. A mini-theme of the 41st installment of the Barcelona Jazz Festival was the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue. The idea, and it was an admirable one, was to turn three groups of musicians loose on Miles masterwork and then sit back and enjoy the contrasting approaches. Now that I’m back in the States and have had a few days to contemplate what I saw, it all sort of comes under the heading of: “The Mysterious Ways in Which a Musician’s Mind Works(?).” Or “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Drummers.”
So it’s Fat Tuesday, or mardi gras and while I have not had a Hurricane cocktail quite yetold men need to keep pacing in the forefront of their thoughtsI have been listening to many of the gems of NOLA's glorious musical history.
I know that every time someone dies, it’s now customary to intone about what a hero they were, how much they were always had a smile for everyone, how they were great family men, husbands, fathers, etc. etc. etc. Speak no ill of the dead, I get it.
I’d say on average that about 85 percent of the people I ask, hate Christmas music with an undying passion. I am one of a crazed minority who actually like the stuff and have long cultivated a collection of the stuff. Although I usually begin the season with the two volumes of Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits, both of which are now out of print (C’mon Rhino!), but are easily found used on Amazon, my general rule with Christmas music is: the weirder the better. And God knows when it comes to weird, Bob Dylan’s new collection of guttural holiday croakings is truly amazing.
Insider music biz stuff should in most cases stay that way because normal folk, what I like to call "civilians," don't care about who said what to whom in the bowels of some label HQ in Burbank or Manhattan. There's also something pitifully self-indulgent and exclusionary and ultimately pathetic about people who are in the know about the music biz and live to tell you about it.
The Ugly American: stalking the streets of Paris’ Latin Quarter, tongue wagging, wrists dragging along the pavement like Quasimodo, desperately searching out record stores in which to spend my rapidly depreciating (Go!) Euros.
There wasn't space in the May issue of Stereophile for all these photos of the gorgeous and very talented Eliane Elias so here are a few more to ogle. And while you do, I know you'll all be doing it because you respect her as an artist. Seriously though, her new record Bossa Nova Stories is wonderful.
Today I got The Essential John Denver and a newly remastered reissue of Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees in the same package. Mercy! I got a chill pulling them out of the envelope. Denver and Scaggs together again! What kind of subtle coding was Sony/BMG sending by pairing this dynamic duo? The Seventies really did suck? We're out of ideas so here's two surefire golden oldies? If you thought the George Winston reissues were great then check out these two?
While it didn’t quite save my life, music, not a D.J., really helped transport me out of a tight situation last week. As we all know, music nerd-dom has its downsidesexcess clutter, disgruntled mates, etcbut every once in a while...
Last night, in Manilalike heat, I trekked southward on Manhattan Island to meet with Jim Davis, owner of Music Direct and one of his right hand men, Colie Brice. One of the best online sources for audiophile wares, both soft and hard, (now, now, let's keep those high fidelity minds up out of the gutter!), Music Direct, as many of you know, also owns the revived Mobile Fidelity label. MoFi was and maybe again THE proudest audiophile label of them all. The extra dynamics they squeezed out of Nirvana's Nevermind will forever amaze me.
A hit abroad but relatively unknown at home. That describes Cheap Trick who I wrote about here recently and also, believe it or not, Otis Redding. He was a big hit in the U.K. and even it seems in Paris before he hit at home with his final single, “(Sittin’ on the) “Dock of the Bay.”