Thursday, March 29, 2007

Janet Jackson - "The Pleasure Principle" (Control, A&M 1986)

How is it that there still hasn't been a remastered, 2-disc, deluxe version of Control yet?! Add the entirety of Control: The Remixes, for starters; get Jimmy & Terry and Janet to talk about the making of the landmark (for both Janet and Jimmy & Terry) for a lavish booklet... I mean, c'mon, it can't be that hard, can it? And the damn album still holds up, no diggity, no doubt.

Lloyd - "Get It Shawty" (Street Love, The Inc. 2007)

LOVE the way the track oh-so-barely filters in and out - and Lordy, that boy sure sings sweetly, doesn't he?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Carrie does SNL

There's no doubt in my mind that Carrie Underwood may end up as big as Shania - the difference is, she'll do it without going pop. I think as she gets a firmer grasp on just who she is as an artist (yes, I said artist, 'cause that's what she's becoming as opposed to "just" being a singer), her music, while easily mass-appeal, will become more country, not less. The fact that she a) has golden pipes and b) is ridiculously beautiful certainly helps. But she's a star - and is going to just get bigger and bigger - because she's got talent.

Check out her performance of "Before He Cheats" from this week's Saturday Night Live; she joins a fairly lofty list of country artists who got the call to perform on the Saturday night institution:
Anne Murray (twice)
John Prine
Willie Nelson (three times, including one stint as host/musical guest)
The Dirt Band (Emmylou Harris's band)
Charlie Daniels Band
Rosanne Cash
Randy Travis
Dolly Parton (as host/musical guest)
Garth Brooks (three times, twice as host/musical guest - one of those times he performed as Chris Gaines)
Dwight Yoakam
Faith Hill
Dixie Chicks
Keith Urban

That's it, in the show's 30-plus-year history. (Worth noting is that Johnny Cash hosted the show in the early '80s, but was not the musical guest that night.) Which means that Carrie's now part of a fairly exclusive fraternity, and good for her. I can't wait to hear what her sophomore album sounds like.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bananarama - "Get On the Floor (Hypnotic Tango) (Angel City Remix Radio Edit)" (Central Station 2006)

As a rule, I don't believe in guilty pleasures; there should be no guilt whatsoever in pleasure. That goes triple for music - but if I'm really honest, there's probably one genre regarding which I do often feel some shame, and that's tacky Italo-house/Hi-NRG - the contemporary stuff. It's easy to praise '80s Italo, but much harder to extol the virtues of today's fromage. I find most of it hit-or-miss, more often than not "miss," but the good stuff is so full of cheesy goodness. UK comps of "club hits" are larded down with the stuff (if you've got a Virgin Megastore nearby, you can generally pick up a couple of recent vintage for a tenner, which is good educational value); a pretty good US sampler is last year's Energy 92.7 Presents Pure Dance, which I've already praised.

So now I've got to admit - and it's all John fault (and you really should check his blog, folks, for excellent photography and fine, pithy writing on a number of topics) - that I've harbored a crush I didn't want to confess to having for quite some time on Bananarama's "Get on the Floor," in its Angel City configuration. This is buoyant, it's a bit cheesy, it's totally pop and totally-er gay, but it's soooo much fun. Hooky as hell, too. I've no interest in hearing Drama, the album from which this hails, but this is a cracking single.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ciara and R. Kelly - "Promise (Go and Get Your Tickets Remix)" (LaFace/Zomba 2007)

Sick, sick, sick - so sick I'm tempted to put this on my 2007 list, even though the original was my #2 of '06. Kels is just killin' it right now! (Audio only.)


Hearing Lakisha sing "Diamonds Are Forever" last night on Idol (her first good-not-great performance, IMO) just made me want to hear this:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And the reason is Camille...

Paglia's back.

Linda Ronstadt - Get Closer (Elektra/Asylum 1982)

This is an oddly fascinating record in many ways, so of its time occasionally, more often out of time (listen to the cheesy synth flourish going into the bridge on the title track, which you likely only know with slightly revised words as a 1980s toothpaste commercial, for an example of the former) (the latter's exemplified by her increasingly ahem "interesting" choices in covers at the time - note that only said title track and the genius Jimmy Webb composition "Easy for You to Say" were remotely current in 1982, and that she covers the likes of "Tell Him" and Ike & Tina's "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine"; Stephen Thomas Erlewine points out that "Ronstadt had lost touch with the mainstream pop scene," and he's not even close to wrong). Christgau, meanwhile, notes that "never has Ronstadt sounded more the art singer than on this painfully precise collection," and he's not wrong either, especially on the likes of Kate McGarrigle's "Talk to Me of Mendocino" (copyright '75). That's not to say that's necessarily a bad thing, though; her rich soprano caresses "Mendocino" beautifully, as well as Webb's "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" ('74) and D. Parton's "My Blue Tears" ('71, and recorded '78, a precursor to Trio five years hence as it's entirely played and sung by Ronstadt/Parton/Harris). The more I hear Get Closer the more I hear its out of touch/out of time-ness, but considering I'm listening to it a full quarter-century after its release, that really doesn't matter. Her last "current" pop album before it all went Nelson Riddle, and then mariachi (and let's try to forget '89's Cry Like A Rainstorm - Howl Like The Wind), is a surprisingly solid, unsurprisingly Ronstadtian record, and in my estimation worth tracking down. B+

Monday, March 19, 2007

Speaking of L.A. studio rock...

It never gets old, never.

I really, really need to write about this album one of these days - El Lay (as the Dean would say) studio-slick pop-rock at its finest. Turns out they're also most of the players on both Boz Scaggs's Silk Degrees and Aretha's Love All the Hurt Away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hip Hop represent!

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are IN the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, y'all. You can see their induction by Jay-Z and performance here. The performance, a medley, is messy and shambling, and altogether marvelous. (The Furious Five haven't performed together in nearly 15 years.) It opens with a turntable exhibition from Flash, who's still got it - hell, he never lost "it."

The rest of last night's inductions/performances were pretty good, too, and there should be no doubt that all 5 members of this year's class of inductees are well deserved. Van Halen were the biggest, greatest, loudest rock band in the world for a good decade; the Ronettes sang like angels in black leather and left a glorious lipstick smudge on rock; Patti Smith truly is the high priestess of rock (post-Tina Turner, at least); and R.E.M. changed plenty in the '80s (and to a much lesser extent, '90s), including practically inventing "college rock" for better and worse.

I've got more thoughts on the HOF itself, and why I care about it a lot (to the surprise of many), which I'm in the process of trying to crystallize into paragraph form. Soon, I hope.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lorrie Morgan - "Something in Red"

Some will call it bathetic and over-the-top; I call it the essence of drama, thanks in large part to Morgan's vocal. (I'm not sure she can sing any other way.) Today it sounds adult contemporary, but back in '91 this was an absolute country smash, a gigantic career record; unfortunately, it also became the record Morgan couldn't overcome. The string arrangement's a bit much at times, sure, but this is Such. A. Big. Record. And it kills.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Welcome back, Kotter.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Heart - "These Dreams" (Heart, Capitol 1985)

"And words that have no form/Are falling from my lips"

Clearly, someone'd been listening to Cocteau Twins... Much greater than the sum of its parts, this song is, frankly, kinda genius.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I was listening to the Jesus & Mary Chain's 21 Singles today, something I picked up months ago (maybe at the Tower GOB sale) and had never gotten around to even unwrapping. (It happens. You think that's bad, you should see the stacks of still-sealed DVDs we've got at home.) There was a sad surprise, however - it wasn't that exciting. Sure, "Sidewalking" is possibly the greatest Bo Diddley track he never wrote, and "April Skies" is a fine dark pop song, but overall, I was expecting a thrill, a spark, a shock, and it didn't happen. Did I simply grossly overvalue Psychocandy (it really was all downhill from there) as a Brit-obsessed midwestern teen? Or has it simply not worn so well? MBV still sounds astonishing these days - hell, to my ears, so does early Ride. Wha'happen with JAMC, then? You tell me. (I immediately followed it up with The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire and got from "Serpentine Fire" just what I'd been looking for from 21 Singles. Which I guess means that EWF kicks JAMC's ass. Hell, there's no guessing about that - it's pretty much indisputable.)

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