Saturday, September 29, 2007

Goin' Home: a Tribute to Fats Domino

Antoine “Fats” Domino is one of the towering figures in the birth and history of rock and roll and so it’s no surprise that a tribute to him would bring out an eclectic group of musical luminaries (including legendary vets like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, B.B. King, Robert Plant, Elton John, Neil Young, and two former Beatles.)

Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino is a 2-disc collection of performances (some newly recorded, others not) of Domino’s delightful songs (he wrote or co-wrote 24 of the 30 songs here) with the proceeds from the set going towards restoration of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood where the New Orleans born Domino lived until Katrina flooded him out and to the Tiptinia’s Foundation, which is keeping the unique musical heritage of Louisiana alive.

The set gets off to a rockin’ start John Lennon’s raucous take on “Ain’t That a Shame” (produced by Phil Spector) and follows that with a sprightly “I’m Walkin’” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and bluesy stroll through the title track by B.B. King (backed up by Ivan Neville’s Dumpstafunk.)

Both Elton John (on “Blueberry Hill”) and Paul McCartney (On “I Want to Walk You Home”) stay in their lower registers as they invoke the living spirit of “the Fat Man”. McCartney benefits from the production and piano work of the ever-amazing Allen Toussaint while John, of course, effectively tickles the keys on his track. Randy Newman slips into the sinewy groove of “Blue Monday” with accomplished ease (his grand piano playing ably aided and abetted with a sweet sax solo by Bill Liston.)

Taj Mahal and the New Orleans Social Club are gritty and funky on “My Girl Josephine” and Joss Stone is sassy and sexy on “Every Night About This Time” with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and ace guitarist Buddy Guy. Corinne Bailey Rae is confidently soulful on a live version (recorded at Tipitina’s earlier this year) of “One Night (of Sin)”.

Lenny Kravitz teams up with the Rebirth Brass Band and legendary James Brown sidemen Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker for a rock solid, horn driven jam on “Whole Lotta Loving”. And the good doctor…Dr. John…comes to the proceedings with a sly, growly, mid-tempo stroll through “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” Bonnie Raitt is fine voice (no surprise there, of course) on a rollicking medley of “I’m in Love Again” and “All by Myself” with pianist/singer/producer Jon Cleary.

Art Neville, accompanied only by his own nimble piano work, offers up some fine blues on “Please Don’t Leave Me”. Similarly, Bruce Hornsby lets his piano do a lot of the talking…and an effective “speaker” it is…on his version of “Don’t Blame it on Me”.

Robbie Robertson joins forces with Galactic for the slinky soul of “Going to the River”. Galactic later backs up Big Chief Monk Boudreaux on the dense funky rock of “So Long”.

Robert Plant is in suitably nuanced voice on the swampy blues of “It Keeps Rainin’” supported by the rock solid Lil’ Band o’ Gold. Plant later joins forces with the glorious Soweto Gospel Choir for a heavenly version of “Valley of Tears”.

Neil Young’s graceful version of “Walking to New Orleans” with the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University (from the ReactNow Katrina aid show) fits onto this disc quite naturally.

Norah Jones’ sweet, smoky voice and sweet, nimble piano playing combine for a lovely version of “My Blue Heaven” while Lucinda Williams’ full-bodied blues rasp invigorates her rockin’ take on “Honey Chile”.

Marc Broussard…with the lovely mandolin playing of Sam Bush anchoring the band to nice effect…slides surely and soulfully through a gently loping “Rising Sun” while Olu Dara and the Natchezippi Band slip down a jazzy road with “When I See You”.

Ben Harper and the Skatalites make a joyful noise with their jaunty romp through “Be My Guest” while Toots and the Maytals bring a soulful reggae groove to “Let the Four Winds Blow” and the ever-wily Willie Nelson slows “I Hear You Knockin’” to a stately stroll punctuated by softly-soaring saxophones.

Irma Thomas brings the indomitable music spirit of the Big Easy to the fore with “I Just Can’t Get New Orleans Off My Mind” featuring great piano playing and harmony vocals from Marcia Ball while Herbie Hancock leads a crack quartet through an irresistibly funky take on “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday”.

Los Lobos chug and churn through their way through a potent take on Domino’s theme song, “The Fat Man”, with guitars and saxophones combining to make pure rock and roll joy.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and Theresa Andersson bring things to a righteous close with a rousing version of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

Goin’ Home is a grand tribute to the great Fats Domino, to the rich musical history of the city of New Orleans, and to the eternal spirit of rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Short Takes (New TV Season, Part 1)

Chuck (NBC)

The first show was fast-paced and engaging with a nice mix of action, comedy, and romance and some interesting chemistry between the leads. Chuck was better than I had expected to be honest and it could become something enormously charming if the balance of adventure and humor is maintained.

Heroes (NBC)

They certainly hit the ground running. It’s “four months later” and the characters are all in new situations and new Heroes are introduced. The first episode managed to catch us up on the status quo for almost all of the main characters from last season (the exceptions being Nikki, D.L., and Micah), introduce several new intriguing mysteries, and bring one supporting character’s story to an apparent end…and, most importantly, leave you wanting more (is it Monday yet? :-) Looks like Heroes might avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.

Journeyman (NBC)

The pilot was convoluted…time travel stories tend to have that problem…and it was a tad too soapy for its own good but there was enough of a hook to make you want to give it a chance to get better. I’m not loving it yet but I’m willing to give it a couple more episodes to win me over.

House (Fox)

Gregory House is the most irascible lead character on network television…and ain’t it grand? (No disrespect to James Spader…I’m a big Boston Legal fan…but Hugh Laurie got robbed at the Emmys.) The new season starts off with House trying to prove that he can do his thing without a team (all of whom quit or were fired at the end of last season…I expect the band to get back together before season’s end) and finding, much to his chagrin, that he cannot. It was great beginning to the new season (hopefully with no maniacally overzealous cops dragging down the season like last year.)

Kitchen Nightmares (Fox)

Gordon Ramsay takes his act (you know, the screaming, the cursing, the derisive nicknames) out of Hell’s Kitchen and out onto the road to restaurants that need his special brand of TLC to get their acts together. It’s all very predictable. It’s all very stagey. It’s all only mildly interesting.

Bionic Woman (NBC)

There’s some good stuff here. And a lot of cliched stuff as well. Michelle Ryan, as Jamie Somers (the titular Bionic Woman), is very pretty but a bit blank in the pilot (maybe we can write that off to her character being in shock over her new status quo as a “$50,000,000 woman” (inflation don’t you know? :-) with super-powerful enhancements (legs, arm, eye, ear) as well as having been swept up into a dark world of espionage. The first episode sets up the series fairly nicely…but the set up is full of tough talking cliches (as opposed to characters) each with their own…drum roll please…DARK SECRETS and nebulous pacing (it’s not clear, for example, exactly how long Jamie is incapacitated after the accident (which, of course, is not really an accident) that leads to her being fitted with bionic parts.) Throw in an angry but apparently precociously intelligent teenager (Jamie’s sister) and a lover who hasn’t told her a lot of important things about himself and we’re getting into deep soap from the jump. And the series is remarkably humorless…a super-hero story (and that’s what Bionic Woman is, of course) shouldn’t take itself quite as seriously as this one does. Now that the setup is in place, it has the potential to get better. We shall see.

Life (NBC)

Not sure what to make of this one yet. The premise is intriguing…a police detective wrongly convicted of murder is exonerated after 12 years of very hard time and returns to the force despite the fact that he collected a multi-million dollar settlement for his wrongful incarceration. He’s partnered with a detective with baggage of her own (she’s less than 2 years out of rehab for a drug problem) and the unlikely team (who will, of course, come to bond) sets out under the skeptical eyes of superiors and fellow cops. There’s a certain quirky charm to it (it has faint but insistent echoes of the failed Jeff Goldblum vehicle, Raines) and it could turn into something quite compelling given a chance to find its way.

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This is, according to Blogger's count, the 300th Neverending Rainbow post. Yay! :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


We won’t call it a comeback…she didn’t go anywhere she just decided to stop making new records for a spell…but it’s very cool to have some new music from the wondrous Joni Mitchell. Her first collection of (mostly) new material in a while starts off with a curve ball: a ruminative instrumental, “One Week Last Summer”, featuring Joni on piano and Bob Sheppard on alto sax. It’s a soothing and intriguing way to start Shine.

Joni’s burnished voice comes into play afterwards, of course, beginning with the acerbic “This Place” and the bittersweet, rueful “If I Had a Heart”. Mitchell is looking at the world around her and while she doesn’t much like what she sees, she seems to be holding on to hope that things can change…that people can change.

The vibe on Shine invokes the jazzier Mitchell offerings (think The Hissing of Summer Lawns) with keyboards and saxophone accents dominating the mix alongside the poetic rush of words and images. Joni’s voice is in that deeper, smoky range we’ve come to know from her later recordings and it is quite effective.

Things kick up a bit more up-tempo with “Hana”, a portrait of a proud woman taking on life on her own terms, with steady beat and electronic flourishes. “Bad Dreams” is a stately, wistful piano-dominated ballad that was borne out of a phrase that Mitchell’s young grandson said to her: “bad dreams are good in the great plan”.

A jaunty guitar line informs the resurrection of “Big Yellow Taxi” to nice effect. The older tune fits into the overall tone (with all of its spiritual, emotional, and ecologic overtones) of the disc and the new version is significantly different from the original. The rocking yet atmospheric “Night of the Iguana” is, Joni says, based on the old film of the same name and its propelled nicely with some sweet bass playing (by Larry Klein) and some rock solid drumming (by Brian Blade).

“Strong and Wrong” is an angry denunciation that takes to task when Mitchell sees as the hypocrisy of ego-driven fundamentalism (as well as President Bush personally) while “Shine” is almost a languid prayer…hopeful and acerbic and ruefully witty all at once…that encourages us to “let your little light shine”.

The closing “If” (which you can hear in full on the Tune Feed widget...just below "I Power Blogger" the column to the right; the little picture says John Williams for some reason but it's Joni), a hopeful, reassuring song based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling, cruises along on a pleasing samba-like beat and it brings the disc to a grand little finish.

I have no idea if Shine will enter the pantheon of what I consider to be great Joni Mitchell records…though on first blush I would guess not, but I’ll have to live with it for a while, explore its nuances and textures on repeated plays, before I can make really decide one way or the other…but, that said, it is nice to have new music from the lady and that’s more than good enough for me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Star Trek: The Next Generation

20 years ago it began…and the Trekkers were skeptical. I am, of course, talking about Star Trek: The Next Generation. When STNG (as it shall be abbreviated from here on in) debuted those of us who had been fans of the original Star Trek series (of which I was one from the very beginning) were dubious that another series…with another Enterprise and a bald Captain…would fly (see what I did there? :-)

We were wrong.

Granted STNG didn’t really hit its stride until the 3rd season but right from the beginning you could see that there was real potential. And when the first episode featured an aged (VERY aged) Bones McCoy passing the proverbial torch to the…well…next generation, it seemed to promise that our hopes for something special could possibly be met.

And so they were.

We came to appreciate the wondrous cast of characters: the gently-imperial Captain Picard, the puckish Commander Riker, the noble Klingon Worf, the inquisitive android Data, the beautiful empathy Deanna Troi, the enterprising (pun intended) engineer Geordi LaForge, the learned Doctors Crusher and Pulaski, the precocious Wesley Crusher, the impish all-powerful scoundrel Q, the enigmatic Guinan, the feisty Tasha Yar.

STNG turned into a wonderful science fiction TV show. Was each episode a gem? Nah…but when they were on their game, the actors, writers, and directors made some sweet sci-fi magic.

Entertainment Weekly has a special 20th anniversary insert (a cool little 26-page booklet) in their September 28th issue which lists their picks for the 10 best STNG episodes of the 7 year run. Their picks:

1) “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (Season 3)

(Time is warped and the Enterprise comes into contact with the long-lost Enterprise C)

2) “The Best of Both Worlds (Parts 1 & 2)” (Seasons 3 & 4)

(The action-packed 2-parter in which Captain Picard is captured by the Borg and transformed into Locutus)

3) “The Inner Light” (Season 5)

(Picard lives an entire alternate life in less than an hour after being hit with a beam from an mysterious probe)

4) “Tapestry” (Season 6)

(Q takes Picard back to relive the events that lead to him needing a heart-replacement)

5) “All Good Things…” (Season 7 – the series finale)

(The past, the present, and a possible future come together thanks to Q and the end of the series.)

6) “The Measure of a Man” (Season 2)

(Picard has to defend Data from a Starfleet officer who wants to dismantle the android for study.)

7) “Sins of the Father” (Season 3)

(Worf must battle Klingon politics in order to try to clear his father’s name)

8) “First Contact” (Season 4)

(Riker goes undercover to find out if a developing world is ready for full-fledged Federation interaction)

9) “The First Duty” (Season 5)

(Wesley Crusher and the other members of his Starfleet cadet squadron face an inquiry into the accidental death of one of their teammates.)

10) “Chain of Command (Part 2)” (Season 6)

(Picard, captured while on an undercover mission, is tortured by a Cardassian interrogator)

Interesting choices…though I’m sure every STNG could list favorites of their own which aren’t on this list.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kid Nation

After all of the controversy and finger pointing, Kid Nation is just another “reality” show. It’s Survivor in an Old West ghost town with a cast of 40 kids (8-15 years old), no tribal councils, and no million-buck prize at the end (though each week one of the campers will be given a literal gold star worth $20,000.) It’s Survivor with a more emotionally mature cast :-)

The thing about the kids building a new society alone is, of course, nonsense. They’re surrounded by an army of cameramen, sound men, producers, medics, technicians, etc., etc. (and that’s not to mention the host who shows up several times an hour) That aside, the show is mildly engaging (the kids often seem like they’re vamping for the camera but that’s to be expected…and when one little miss says in all earnestness that she doesn’t do dishes because she’s a “beauty queen” you wonder how many of these “ordinary” kids are looking towards a career in showbiz with this show as a stepping stone.)

The editing of the show will not show any danger or exploitation, of course…the kids seem to be having an adventure that is at turns fun, challenging, and instructive on the matter of social interaction (one boy, the youngest of the group, opts out at the end due to homesickness…a very understandable reaction, of course.)

It’s not, as some have opined, Lord of the Flies, it’s just a “reality” show whose purpose escapes me.

I was wondering if CBS was going to put Kid Nation on after the firestorm of protests but they did (“controversy” makes for great pre-broadcast advertising) and the end result seems hardly worth all of the sanctimonious hand-wringing. Any ire about the inappropriateness of putting children in a potentially dangerous situation…apparently a couple of the kids got hurt during the filming of the series but not, insofar as I’ve heard, really seriously hurt…should be directed not only at the producers and the network but also…and especially… at the 40 sets of parents who signed the onerous contracts required for participation and gave their children over to the tender mercies of “reality” TV stardom.

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory, a new sitcom that debuts on CBS on September 24, is unassuming and occasionally quite amusing (though not nearly as funny as the annoying laugh track tries to make you think it is.) They’re not trying to reinvent the sitcom wheel with this show, it’s an old-fashioned comedy show with characters rattling off one-liners in a way that nobody talks in real life but the easy chemistry between the two leads helps makes it work…to an extent.

Leonard (a perky…in a geeky but endearing way…Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (a droll Jim Parsons) are socially inept geniuses who share an apartment (complete with big white boards covered with arcane equations and hair products in bottles shaped like Star Wars characters) whose world is changed when an attractive blonde moves into the apartment across the hall from them. That’s the plot…nothing more, nothing less.

As Penny, the new neighbor, a waitress just out of a bad relationship with a brutish lout that she still has feelings for, Kaley Cuoco is not asked to do much besides be pretty and affably sweet and she does that quite well. Though surrounded by eager beaver nerds (besides the roommates, we also have Simon Helberg as Wolowitz, a clueless would-be Casanova and Kunal Nayyar as Koothrappal whose fear of women is so great that he is unable to utter a single word to Penny) who act like they have never talked to a pretty girl before, Cuoco’s Penny doesn’t seem to look down on her new neighbors. Instead she is at turns patiently amused and guilelessly amazed (and completely unthreatened) by them.

But it is Galecki and Parsons who give this show what juice it has. Galecki’s wide-eyed enthusiasm is leavened by Parson’s mordant dry wit. They make a good team.

Judging by the pilot (available as a free download on iTunes as of this writing) The Big Bang Theory will be mildly diverting while it’s on and quickly forgotten once the episode is over. Though, that said, it could blossom into something more if the writing is strong...time will tell.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kanye West and Rainn Wilson at the Emmys

Kanye West showing that he does indeed have a sense of humor (and the ability not to take himself so seriously) in this cute Emmy bit with The Office's Rainn Wilson and Don't Forget the Lyrics host Wayne Brady.

Monday, September 17, 2007


The new network television is starting to roll out slowly but surely (the debuts and season premieres stretch well into October) and I’m not really excited about much. But I’ll approach it with as open a mind as possible.

K-Ville, Fox’s new cop show, uses post-Katrina (hence, the “K” in K-Ville) New Orleans as a background. The lead character, Marlin Boulet (the always amazing Anthony Anderson), is a cop who lives in the devastated upper Ninth Ward and who is trying to get his wife and daughter to return to what he still considers home. Boulet’s new partner, Trevor Cobb (a very fine Cole Hauser), is an Army vet with a dark secret who’s joined the New Orleans Police Department seeking a kind of redemption. Boulet and Cobb are, as a matter of course, opposites…one black, one white, one hot-headed and hard-drinking, one calm and adverse to drinking while on duty, one with his passionate heart on his sleeve and one close-mouthed and guarded…and, of course, you know that they will become trusting partners as the series continues.

And that’s the problem. When all is said and done K-Ville is, New Orleans location aside, just another cop show that hits a lot of the familiar cop show beats. A cop show complete with a squad of colorful cops, a gruff Captain with a heart of gold (John Carroll Lynch), frenetic car chases and shootouts, and tired plots with “shocking” twists that are neatly tied up by the end of the hour. New Orleans is, in the end, mostly just window dressing for an otherwise ordinary police procedural with soap opera touches that carry most of the character development.

Andrews and Hauser do, however, raise the bar with their strong performances (even as they deal with the melodrama of their characters: Boulet’s family problems and drinking and Cobb’s dark secret which is revealed at the end of the first episode.)

K-Ville is okay…and it may grow into something better but it’s not enough to sway my attention from the return of Heroes in the same timeslot on September 24th.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Smells Like Teen Spirit (The Ukulele Remix)

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain throws down on Nirvana's most famous song. I think Cobain would have gotten a kick out of this.

Guilt by Association

It is probably safe to assume that some amount of irony underscores this CD…a compilation of “indie” artists covering “guilty pleasure” pop songs…but the artists understood that to make this work they were going to have to play it straight (smirking through their performances would just make them come off as smug) and that’s what they did.

The net cast here is pretty wide…Paula Abdul (with Luna finding a understated soulful groove in “Straight Up”) to Fall Out Boy (Goat slipping into a grand, heartfelt, mid-tempo reading of “Sugar We’re Going Down”), Blue Oyster Cult (Mike Watt’s beefy spin through “Burning for You”), to High School Musical (Porter Block turns “Breaking Free” into a soaring, credible rock and roll song), the Spice Girls (Jim O’Rourke finding the heart of “Viva Forever” with some great guitar work included in the melodic mix) to System of a Down (Casey Shea’s lush take on “Chop Suey”), Shania Twain (Mark Mulcahy’s sweetly, passionately ragged cover of “From This Moment On”) to Oasis (Devendra Banhart’s dreamy, acoustic version of “Don’t Look Back in Anger”)…but the songs are stripped down, recast, and re-imagined to sometimes very engaging effect (stripped of their pop gloss and over-produced vocals, some of the songs emerge surprisingly poignant in their new incarnations.)

Petra Haden’s glorious, multi-tracked a cappella (including the guitar solos) version of the Journey chestnut “Don’t Stop Believin’”, for example, kicks off the disc with a shimmering burst of invention while Will Oldham (aka “Bonnie Prince Billy”) strips the melodrama away from Mariah Carey’s “Can’t Take That Away” and discovers an affecting song (Geoff Farina pulls off the same cool trick with a cool acoustic take on Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise”.) The Concretes cover Take That's "Back for Good" with great vocals and a tasty horn-driven chorus.

The Woody Jackson Orchestra and Money Mark update “Love’s Theme”, the syrupy instrumental hit from the 70’s by Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra, with a nice 21st Century groove while hanging on to a sweetly nostalgic feel while The Mooney Suzuki attacks Cher’s cheesy (I admit that it’s cheesy while also admitting that I rather like it) “Just Like Jesse James” with fierce relish and comes out with a winner even as it hews close to original arrangement. Superchunk turns “Say My Name” into a snarling, pulsating rocker…something that Destiny’s Child couldn’t have ever imagined that it could be.

If someone is going to cover a well-known song, they should (to coin a cliché) “make it their own”…and that’s exactly what these fine folks do on these “guilty pleasures” to fine effect indeed. Guilt by Association is fun and engaging and what more could you ask from a compilation like this?

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Engine Room Recordings, which released the CD, held a contest for fans to create videos for some of the songs. Below is one made for Petra Haden's version of "Don't Stop Believin'" (other videos available for viewing at the link in the previous sentence.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin will reunite for one night to headline a tribute to Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Etregun. The show will take place at the 02 arena (next to the Thames River in London) on November 26.

Etregun, a legendary music executive and producer, died late last year. He signed Zeppelin to Atlantic in 1968 and the band recorded for them for the entirety of its existence.

Founding members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones will be joined by Jason Bonham, the son of the band’s late, undeniably great drummer John Bonham at the gig; this lineup last played together at the concert celebrating Atlantic Records’ 40th anniversary back in 1988.

The show will also feature Pete Townshend, Foreigner, and former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman (with rumors that Mick Jagger might also show up.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Joe Zawinul 1932-2007

Joe Zawinul, the incredibly talented composer and keyboardist who played with, among others, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley (for whom he wrote the classic "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy") died today. He was 75.

Zawinul greatest fame came as co-leader (with saxophonist Wayne Shorter) of the seminal jazz fusion band Weather Report. His most popular composition was probably "Birdland", a Weather Report tune celebrating the legendary jazz club that was named for the immortal Charlie "Yardbird" Parker.

Here is Zawinul performing "Birdland" with Weather Report...featuring Shorter and the late, great Jaco Pastorius.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bruce Springsteen - My City Of Ruin (9-11 Tribute) NYC

From the smoldering rubble, we rise,
From the well of bitter tears, we rise,
From the night that seemed without end,
From the day blackened with blood and fire,
We rise…

We give thanks for the light,
Prayers for the souls gone abruptly to God,
Thanks for all the magic and majesty
That lingers even in the face of madness.

From the storied cities, we rise,
From the bountiful fields, we rise,
From the crucible of peace and justice,
From the land of the free and the freedmen,
We rise…

(MKW - 2001)

Britney Spears

It was almost painful to watch Britney Spears stumble through the terrified-deer-caught-in-the-headlights performance that opened MTV’s VMAs (Video Music Awards) on Sunday night (I didn’t watch the VMAs…I’m well past the age of their target demographic and well past the point where I think MTV is relevant to anything I’m interested in…but I did catch Britney’s sad bump and grind on And I’m not even a Spears fan by any stretch of the imagination. The uncomfortable looks on the faces of audience members (including P. Diddy and 50 Cent) and the tepid applause afterwards showed that I wasn’t alone in feeling like I was watching the continuation of a very long train wreck.

If this was her “comeback” she really needs to rethink the direction she going in…and her management…and, most importantly, her priorities. Once you’ve been at the top of the pop culture world I guess it’s hard to accept that no one gets to stay up that high forever and that climbing back up after a precipitous fall is possible but extremely rare (are you listening, Michael Jackson?)

Britney Spears is going to do what she wants to do…and that’s her right, of course… but unless she needs the money really badly (and reports are that she does not) she might want to think about getting her personal world in some kind of order before she tries to re-conquer the pop world. It’s just a thought.

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My other little corners of the interweb:

Creative Writing: Bread and Roses

Comic Books: Suspending Disbelief

Interesting Sites and Images: StumbleUpon

Friday, September 07, 2007

Play it as it Lays

One hopes and expects that Patti Scialfa enjoys her life. She’s a member of the mighty E Street Band (and the Sessions Band as well, she had a couple of cool solo turns on the Live in Dublin set.) She’s the wife of Bruce Springsteen and the mother of their three children. She is a fine songwriter and she has a sweetly husky, smoky singing voice that is reminiscent of the great Ronnie Spector. And every once in a while she gets into the studio and delivers up a delightful little gem of a CD.

Her first CD, 1993's Rumble Doll, was a fine collection and her second, 2004's 23rd Street Lullaby, was even better. Play it as it Lays, a bluesy affair with a tight band (anchored by The “Whack Brothers Rhythm Section” featuring E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren, bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Steve Jordan, keyboardist Clifford Carter, and some guy named Bruce on guitars and organ) and soulful backup singers, continues that trajectory with a funky, affecting set of evocative songs.

Scialfa hits the ground running with the grand “Looking for Elvis”, a bluesy country number (see video below) and follows that with, “Like Any Woman Would”, a soulful paean to womanhood that name-checks Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo and Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and incorporates elements of the Chiffons classic “He’s So Fine”.

The disc…clocking in at just under 40 minutes…continues on a bluesy (there’s that word again), sometimes swampy, sometimes rockin’ “Run, Run, Run”, a tribute to drag racer Shirley Muldowney is a fun, foot-tapper from beginning to end), mid-tempo groove that fits Scialfa like a glove.

The title song is a bittersweet…emphasis on the sweet and the positive…celebration of love and life that lopes and shimmers along and keeps you engaged as does the understated (it almost sounds like a lullaby), love-affirming finale, “Black Ladder”.

Play it as it Lays is a CD that will deliver up new nuances and little surprises every time you play it. It won’t sell zillions of copies…more’s the pity for that…but hopefully it will sell enough to allow Patti Scialfa to…every once in a while at least…give us more delightful little gems in the future. I can only hope.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Songbirds - The Weatherman

A lovely song...sweet leads and glorious The Songbirds from Great Britain. Their CD is due out in the States later on this year.