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Kate Bush Live, at Last

January 12, 2017 Leave a comment

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In 2014, Kate Bush embarked on a 22-date tour, her first in 35 years. Bush’s latest release, Before the Dawn is a three-disc, 155 minute documentary of that tour.

The album provides a long-awaited, no-frills overview of the singer’s creativity and music. As Pitchfork reports:

“There are no retakes or overdubs bar a few atmospheric FX. No apps, no virtual reality, no interactivity. [Bush has] also said there won’t be a DVD, which is surprising given the show’s spectacular theatrics, conceived by the former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a host of designers, puppeteers, and illusionists. The show, and this release, aren’t credited to Kate Bush but the KT Fellowship, in recognition of the vast ensemble effort. Yet in shucking off half the production, this set…is also the best way that Before the Dawn could have been preserved, allowing it to tell its own story uninhibited by the busy staging.”

Fresh Stuff from Tribe Called Quest (Finally)

December 19, 2016 Leave a comment

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After an 18 year hiatus, A Tribe Called Quest is back with We Got it From Here. The album has two over-arching themes: the U.S. presidential campaign and the loss of group member Phife Dawg, who passed away earlier this year.

Recorded well before the elections, the album nonetheless provides a spot-on glimpse into the powers that be and a campaign of intolerance and hatred. It also serves to honor Phife Dawg, whose absence is noticeable, with tributes and nods throughout.

Despite the 18 year lag, Tribe demonstrates that it’s very much a part of today’s rap scene, and will forever stand as foundational acts for the current crop of rappers. As Rolling Stone reports:

“It’s important to check the vibe throughout. Entire books can be written about how the sound, identity, location, phrasing, technical innards and even purpose of rap music has changed since A Tribe Called Quest’s last album, The Love Movement, in 1998. But Tribe, in both delivery and content, maintain the attitude of the Bohemian everydude funkonauts that inspired Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar (who all appear here).”

The Rolling Stones and the Blues

December 19, 2016 Leave a comment

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Fresh off the press, Blue & Lonesome, the first studio album from the Rolling Stones in over ten years. The album sees the band returning to its blues roots, a passion that, according to the Stones’ website, “has always been at the heart and soul of the Rolling Stones.” The album features tunes by blues legends, including Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf.

Recorded in just three days in West London’s British Grove Studios, Blue & Lonesome was a departure for the band, in terms of the recording process:

“[The band’s] approach to the album was that it should be spontaneous and played live in the studio without overdubs. The band – Mick Jagger (vocals & harp), Keith Richards (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ronnie Wood (guitar) were joined by their long time touring sidemen Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (keyboards) and, for two of the twelve tracks, by old friend Eric Clapton, who happened to be in the next studio making his own album.”

As co-producer Don Was explains, “This album is manifest testament to the purity of their love for making music, and the blues is, for the Stones, the fountainhead of everything they do.”

Here’s the tracklist:

  1. Just Your Fool
  2. Commit A Crime
  3. Blue And Lonesome
  4. All Of Your Love
  5. I Gotta Go
  6. Everybody Knows About My Good Thing
  7. Ride ‘Em On Down
  8. Hate To See You Go
  9. Hoo Doo Blues
  10. Little Rain
  11. Just Like I Treat You
  12. I Can’t Quit You Baby

The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris

December 6, 2016 Leave a comment

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On January 10, 2015, an all-star cast of musicians assembled to pay tribute to Emmylou Harris at Washington, DC’s DAR Constitution Hall.

Among the artists that performed were Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chris Coleman, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Patty Griffin, Chris Hillman, Iron & Wine, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Daniel Lanois, Martina McBride, the Milk Carton Kids, Buddy Miller, Conor Oberst, Herb Pedersen, Shovels & Rope, Mavis Staples, John Starling, Trampled by Turtles, Sara Watkins, Holly Williams, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, and Emmylou Harris herself.

As Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Bernstein wrote, “The breadth and variety of the evening’s lineup — scrappy and elegant, mainstream and indie, legendary and freshman — reflected the many artistic dividing lines that Harris has straddled throughout her entire career.”

Recently Rounder released The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris: An All-Star Concert Celebration. The set was released on blu-ray, DVD, DV and various combo packs. Here’s the tracklist:

1. One Of These Days – Buddy Miller
2. Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Mavis Staples
3. Red Dirt Girl – Shawn Colvin
4. Michelangelo – The Milk Carton Kids
5. Wheels – Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
6. Orphan Girl – Holly Williams & Chris Coleman
7. Bluebird Wine – Trampled By Turtles
8. Hickory Wind – Lucinda Williams
9. You’re Still On My Mind – Rodney Crowell
10. Born To Run – Lee Ann Womack
11. When We’re Gone, Long Gone – John Starling & Emmylou Harris
12. Blackhawk – Daniel Lanois & Emmylou Harris
13. Wrecking Ball- Iron & Wine, Daniel Lanois
14. Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight – Shovels & Rope
15. All The Roadrunning – Mary Chapin Carpenter, Vince Gill
16. The Pearl – Conor Oberst, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin
17. When I Stop Dreaming – Martina McBride
18. Prayer In Open D – Patty Griffin
19. Pancho And Lefty – Steve Earle, Lee Ann Womack, Herb Pedersen
20. Together Again – Vince Gill
21. Two More Bottles of Wine – Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill
22. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again) – Kris Kristofferson
23. Till I Gain Control Again – Alison Krauss
24. Cash On The Barrelhead – Alison Krauss
25. Boulder To Birmingham – Emmylou Harris (with Full Ensemble)

DVD/Blu-ray Bonus Performances
Sin City – Steve Earle
Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn – Sara Watkins

Solange’s Seat at the Table

December 3, 2016 Leave a comment

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R&B singer-songwriter Solange Knowles recently released Seat at the Table, an R&B masterpiece that takes on race, social issues, anger, injustice, healing and more in exquisite, minimalist fashion.

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Described by Knowles, who is the sister of Beyonce, as a “project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing,” the record combines commentary, observation, family history and first-hand experiences into a powerful record that engages emotionally, intellectually and musically from start to finish. As Spin reports:

“[Seat at the Table] is among the most exquisite productions of the year, each track silken-smooth and replete with quietly virtuosic instrumental flourishes—and in service of a story of pain and healing.”

Don’t sleep on this cultural and musical masterpiece.

 

 

Fresh (Old) Stuff From Gillian Welch

December 2, 2016 Leave a comment

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In 1996, singer-songwriter, roots music favorite Gillian Welch, along with her longtime partner Dave Rawlings, released her debut record, Revival. The record, which was produced by T-Bone Burnett, received immediately positive reviews and defined Welch and Rawlings as standout artists in the folk and roots genre, a position that has been reaffirmed many times over the years as the.

20 years later, the duo has released Boots No. 1 The Official Revival Bootleg, a collection of 21 tracks documenting the early days and sounds of the outfit as they carved out their sound and style on their way to creating a celebrated album and becoming Americana royalty. As NPR reports:

“It’s fascinating to follow along as Welch and Rawlings feel their way to their singular sound, whose essential ingredients include “the rawboned refinement of their songwriting, the comely and lilting crooks in Welch’s phrasing, the shimmery dissonance of their harmonies and the prickly, surging ecstasy of Rawlings’ guitar runs.

In the early- to mid-’90s window captured on this collection, Welch was a different singer than the one listeners have come to know, swinging a little harder at times and bearing down a bit more…There’s a slightly unfamiliar quality even to some of the duo’s better-known songs. In the 1993 living-room demo of “Orphan Girl” — the tape from which Emmylou Harris learned her Wrecking Ball version — Welch chirps her lament in a considerably higher register than the one she eventually settled into, and the at-home recording of “Tear My Stillhouse Down” is similarly lighter than the song’s bleak sentiment. Those were mere starting points; the destination, as we well know, was a long-suffering suppleness that bears up beneath the grimmest storytelling. The “bootleg” also rounds up some of Rawlings’ initial romps on a newly acquired archtop guitar, as his flurries of capricious notes reveal a restless intelligence. And so much of the narration — especially in “One More Dollar,” “Barroom Girls,” “Only One And Only” and “Red Clay Halo,” the last of which got shelved until Time (The Revelator) — was already finely etched, even fastidious. The whole thing serves as a tremendous reminder of how and why this partnership came to matter so much.”

Here’s the tracklist:

Disc One

1. “Orphan Girl” (Alternate Version)

2. “Annabelle” (Alternate Version)

3. “Pass You By” (Alternate Version)

4. “Go on Downtown” (Revival Outtake) *

5. “Red Clay Halo” (Revival Outtake)

6. “By the Mark” (Alternate Mix)

7. “Paper Wings” (Demo)

8. “Georgia Road” (Revival Outtake) *

9. “Tear My Stillhouse Down” (Home Demo)

10. “Only One and Only” (Alternate Version)

Disc Two

1. “Orphan Girl” (Home Demo)

2. “I Don’t Want to Go Downtown” (Revival Outtake) *

3. “455 Rocket” (Revival Outtake) *

4. “Barroom Girls” (Live Radio)

5. “Wichita” (Revival Outtake) *

6. “One More Dollar” (Alternate Version)

7. “Dry Town” (Demo) *

8. “Paper Wings” (Alternate Mix)

9. “Riverboat Song” (Revival Outtake) *

10. “Old Time Religion” (Revival Outtake) *

11. “Acony Bell” (Demo)

*previously unreleased

Mac Dre’s Ronald Dregan: Dreganomics on Wax

November 4, 2016 Leave a comment

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Now available on vinyl for the first time: Mac Dre’s Ronald Dregan: Dreganomics. The album is a 2 LP set with gatefold sleeve and red and white, blue and white, starburst vinyl. From Fat Beats:

You know him as Al Boo Boo, Mac Drevious, Thizzelle Washington and more. Now he busts out with Ronald Dregan. Running for top office in this election year, the big POTUS (pimp of the U.S.) chants ”Follow me now let me lead the way believe in Dre the American way” on the Dreganomics track as he rapsodizes the virtues of 22 inch rims, cash and pimpin’, campaign and game. 12 solid raps with production by Sean T, Gennessee, Sweet Geez, Lev, Swampkat, THE G.O.V., and Johan Whale.

This is just half of a special two album release for October of this election year. It is the complement to ”The Genie of the Lamp.”