Sunday, December 30, 2007

Again, If I Was a Music Critic

Nectar of the Gods
Originally uploaded by bridgeportseasoning.

These would be my favorite records of the year:

  • Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Raising Sand Easily my favorite of the year. Plant doesn't get the recognition that Peter Gabriel or David Byrne do as far as world musicology is concerned, and on this record his encyclopedic knowledge of American roots music comes to full bore. Krauss, who's become more boring and safe as she's become more blonde and slender, is inspired here. Producer T-Bone Burnett brings it all together.

  • Grinderman: Grinderman. Easily the sleaziest record I listened to all year. Nick Cave steps away from the piano, straps on a guitar, and lets the fuzz fly.

  • Pink Martini: Hey Eugene!. These symphonic popsters released their most accessible record to date, and their March date at the Chicago Theatre is one of my most eagerly anticipated concerts of early 2K8. this record ends with a tender duet between vocalist China Forbes and the legendary Jimmy Scott on "Tea for Two".

  • Talib Kweli: Right About Now (The Official Sucka Free Mix CD). Jay Z says it best - "If skills sold/ Truth be told/ I'd probably be/ Lyrically/ Talib Kweli."

  • Little Big Town: A Place to Land If you're a fan of the California sound of the 70's and creative four-part harmony, then pick this up this record.

  • Kurt Elling: Night Moves. The local jazz singer's latest and best record is also his most consistent to date. Elling finally tones down his cheesier tendencies and delivers on his enormous potential.

  • Manu Chao: La Radionlina. The future of international pop. This is years ahead of everything else he's done before.

  • Pacha Massive: All Good Things. Grooves that to me bring back memories of muggy August afternoons holding down the basketball courts at Hermosa Park.

  • Orgone: The Killion Floor. This was a great year for old school soul music. This west coast band wound up being the answer for my next selection from Staten Island.

  • The Budos Band: The Budos Band II. Daptone Records strikes again. The Budos' sophomore release is light years ahead of their debut.

  • Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: 100 Days, 100 Nights. The new "Queen of Soul" cemented her claim to the title with this hot lo-fi mix of sweet soul.

  • The Betty Davis Re-issues: Lost for over thirty years, Light in the Attic Records re-issued Betty Davis and They Say I'm Different in May. How these records were lost while other slick funk bands found success in the 70's, I haven't a clue. This is some fierce, unrepentant, sexual music a solid fifteen years ahead of Madonna and seven years ahead of Prince.

  • The Duhks: Migrations. Now that Nickel Creek is on "indefinite hiatus", this Winnipeg-based "jamgrass" band is poised to lay claim to a lot of Nickel Creek's fans, and they have the chops for both bluegrass purists and the patchouli set. The Duhks also lost their soulful charismatic lead singer, Jessee Havey, but replaced her with the even more soulful Sarah Dugas.

  • Bettye Lavette: The Scene of the Crime A tour de force collaboration with the Drive-By Truckers. Recorded at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which was the setting of the "Great Lady of Soul's" biggest professional disappointment. In 1972, she recorded an album for Atlantic Records that was, by all accounts, a masterpiece (if I can find it in my collection, I'll share some tracks). Then Atlantic decided to shelve the record on the eve of her tour to support it. This record reunites Ms. Lavette with David Hood, who played on that Atlantic record and also happens to be the father of lead Trucker Patterson Hood, who produced "Scene."


K. said...

I love the Betty Davis reissues too. What a underrated artist!

Angie said...

Nice blog. Living in Pilsen, I can use Bridgeport watering hole 411. Happy New Year (found your blog on the Chicago blogger map, by the way.)

Charming Charlie said...

Welcome, Angie. And as far as Bridgeport Watering Hole 411, most of that is listed in the "Great Day in the Neighborhood" linkage.

K: Betty Davis has done a handful of interviews since her newfound recognition, and she sounds either beaten down by the experience or unwilling to live in the past. Contrast that to Bettye LaVette, who in every interview sounds like a ball of unbridled joy that people finally recognize her.

If it's still up, download and listen to Terry Gross' interview with LaVette from December 17, and you'll know full well what I mean. after about seven, eight minutes, Terry stopped talking and let Bettye rip.