I seem to have fallen into the habit of listening to a bunch of CDs before writing about them (see previous entry). I’m not sure that’s a good idea; I need the immediacy of writing soon after listening, and I am afraid I will get out of order, have many little piles of CDs around and not know which goes first… we’ll see what happens with the holiday s coming up. For one thing, I will have to intentionally go out of order and listen to Xms CDs, and also I should reach 100 CDs listened to soon, which means I listen to a box set.
56) Joe Jackson: Laughter and Lust
This was Jackson’s last pop song collection before experimenting with more extended neo-classical stuff; it’s not as raucous as “Look Sharp,” nor is it rooted in jazz and standards like “Jumpin’ Jive” or “Body and Soul.” No, it’s perched somewhere between those 2 stylistic modes, with plenty of horns and jazz changes layered atop punchy chord progressions. “Trying to Cry” is great, “Hit Single” is a hit single that makes fun of hit singles, and “My House” sounds, lyrically at least, like Joe is channeling mid-era Bruce Springsteen. Lots of hooks, lots of snarky wordplay: basically the kind of CD Joe could make in his sleep. (bonus: apparently Joe is a smoker’s rights advocate, including moving to Berlin becasue of the anti-smoking ordinances passed in NY in 2003… gotta stand for something, I guess!)
57) The Cardigans: Super Extra Gravity
I don’t know what it is about Nina Persson’s voice that I dig, her range is just ok and it isn’t especially warm, but it has the same kind if shimmering clarity that glosses sad songs the way Sandy Denny’s did, adding one more dimension of pathos to the arrangements. That said, this CD doesn’t really move beyond “Gran Tourismo” at all stylistically, and there are fewer memorable songs, but it’s still worth listening to, especially on headphones or while driving at dusk. (bonus: this CD does not, unlike the previous 2 in their ouevre, contain a weirdo avant-bubble cover of a Black Sabbath song. Which is not really a bonus, now that I think of it.
58) King Chango: The Return of El Santo
Wow, I forgot how stylistically spastic this CD was. Is stylistic eclecticism more valued in South American pop for some reason? Actually, I’m just thinking about Los Cadillacs Fabulosos, and King Chango aren’t quite that crazy, but they do manage to mix drum-and-bass, jarocho, reggae, and straight-up disco all together in a single song. The lyrics I can decipher on the fly seem like good slogan sincerity (a la Spearhead), but I don’t have time to sit and translate them all just now. Wild, make your booty move music from a NY via-Venezuala group that, unfortunately, seems to have broken apart. (bonus: perhaps King Chango joined the Chango Family?)
59) Kid Thomas: Wail, Baby, Wail!
This CD is proof that a Little Richard pompadour, a Little Walter harmonica style, and a bunch of shiny pantsuits can lead to a career in music. The Kid can sing about as well as Johnny “Guitar” Walker, which is to say, not very well, but he screams convincingly, and every once in a while hits a great falsetto phrase that almost, but not quite, sounds like Otis Rush. Listening to the production history here is interesting: a few straight up Chicago blues, some jump blues, then a James Brown vamp, then suddenly someone gets a wah-wah peddle for a few songs… and then there are a bunch of studio outtakes for no good reason at the end. Who doesn’t like listening to a bunch of drunk musicians playing 1/2 a song and yelling at each other? (bonus: ok, this is really not a bonus, but it is an interesting story. Apparently, the Kid was working as a landscaper in LA when he struck and killed a kid who swerved in front of his van. He was acquitted of manslaughter, but the distraught father of the dead child showed up outside the courthouse and shot and killed Thomas in 1970).
60) Gorillaz: Gorillaz
I liked Blur ok, never enough to buy a CD, but I like the Gorillaz enough to buy both of theirs, perhaps because I am a sucker for hip-hop influenced production and hooks that seem like they make sense but really don’t, or maybe they do, or they just sway back and forth between gibberish and intelligibility (“I aint happy, I’m feelin glad / I got sunshine, in a bag / I’m useless, but not for long / The future is coming on”). never really investigated the whole “virtual band” cartoon narrative part of this group, but I loved “Tank Girl”… (bonus: Wow, Albarn and Hewlett collaborated on an opera version of one of my favorite books, Wu Cheng’en’s “Journey To The West.” Holy crap!)
61) Lyle Lovett: And His Large Band
No jokes about his head, I promise. “Stand By Your Man”! By a man! Well, yeah, and once the obviousness wears off, a great version of the standard. 2 or 3 great originals here (particularly like “Which Way Does That Old Pony Run”) and the rest are just fine, thanks, so humble and unassuming that one begins to wonder if Lyle might not one day unassume himself into a bit of a caricaturish corner, until folks think of him in the same breath as Will Rogers. (bonus: actually, Rogers could be quite a bastard. And his famous quote, “”I never yet met a man that I didn’t like,” was in reference to a question about Leon Trotsky. So, Lyle could have worse celebrity models).