Posts filed under “Friday Night Jazz”
We are less than 5 full months into the calendar year, and I already have a leading contender for my favorite album of 2012: Alabama Shakes’ Boys & Girls.
I stumbled across them on a session broadcast from
KRCW KCRW. The music was raw and powerful, and I was excited at the prospect of their first album. It doesn’t disappoint. This killer debut album (referenced earlier in a PM reads) is a mix of roots rock, country blues, soul and gospel. It has a decidedly retro flavor to it, but at the same time is fresh and original. The song writing is powerful, the band tight, and they sound as if they really light it up on stage (Videos after the jump).
Alabama Shakes was formed in Athens, Alabama in 2009. Lead singer Brittany Howard has a powerful voice, full of soul and fire. Another reviewer called ner the love child of Otis Redding and Janis Joplin, and there is something to that. A potent power trio — Guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson — are behind her. In their live shows, the band covers James Brown to Otis Redding, as well Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. That eclectic taste informs their original recordings.
The Alabama Shakes’ first album, “Boys & Girls,” is an electric jolt that anyone who loves blues-based rock music should track down immediately. Consisting of three men and one young explosion named Brittany Howard on vocals and guitar, the group, which formed in northern Alabama in 2009, offers stripped down truth, minus any affectation, histrionics or irony.
Videos after the jump
We first mentioned Amy Winehouse in April 2007. She was yet another talented UK vocalist who took cues from the past, but with a modern twist. her style was to freshen up the classic soul sound of the 1950/60′s girl groups, with smoky depths of a jazz chanteuse. Stylistically, she was a mash up of Billie Holiday and Ronnie Spector.
On to the new album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. To quote Rolling Stone, “This is a sad record. A grab bag of outtakes, unreleased tracks, demos, covers and song sketches, these recordings feel like a gut punch. They remind you, first and foremost, of that voice – one of pop music’s most instantly recognizable vocal imprints, a sound that leapt out of your speakers and seized you by the ears. Here, as always, Winehouse’s singing is both raggedy and dramatic, winking and insouciant, full of high drama and a breezy sense of play – sometimes all those things at the same time . . . It’s hard not to believe that Winehouse died with her best work in front of her. We’ll never hear those records, and the silence is deafening.”
Videos & Pictures and more after the jump . . .
I first mentioned Amy Winehouse back in April 30th, 2007: “A fierce English performer whose voice combines the smoky depths of a jazz chanteuse with the heated passion of a soul singer.” Her death at 27 was tragic but inevitable; Now comes news of a posthumous release of Lioness: Hidden Treasures. Its a full 12…Read More
See you tomorrow (hopefully!) Same song 25 years later:
Category: Friday Night Jazz
I just learned that one of my favorite bands, R.E.M., is coming up on the 25th anniversary of their breakout album, Lifes Rich Pageant. It is getting the full Expanded & Remastered treatment, according to Paste.
The band‘s groundbreaking fourth album, Lifes Rich Pageant re-release date is July 12, the album’s 25th anniversary. A special 2-disc edition will feature a digitally remastered version of the original album plus 19 previously unreleased demo recordings.
The album recorded by vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry was R.E.M.’s first Gold record, reaching #21 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. It included the hit singles Fall On Me and Superman.
I was a huge R.E.M. fan in grad school, and their first few albums were enormously powerful and influential on me personally. It was one of the first examples a younger me realized you could go on your own path and still be successful.
Most of you young’uns probably are familiar with the band’s later bigger commercial hits — “Losing My Religion, Shiny Happy People, Everybody Hurts, Stand, etc.” That stuff is all good for what it is — better than most of the pop on the radio at the same time, anyway.
You may not realize that R.E.M. was the original alternative rock band. Their first album, 1983′s Murmur, transformed the post-punk, underground college-rock era into brand new genre: What you take for granted as alternative rock was essentially created out of whole cloth by R.E.M. way back then. Its oin my top, 100 list.
For those of you who only know their latter, shiny happy, pop stuff, delve into this seminal, influential band’s best work — these 4 albums; Genius that way lay.
A little context: In 1983, the US Stock market had just awoken from a 16 year slumber. Reagan was President, polyester had not yet gone away. The movie Saturday Night Fever was still relatively fresh in people’s minds, and there was plenty of Disco on the air, along with Journey, Boston, and Foreigner. It was a simple, if uglier time.
Along comes R.E.M., from of all places Athens, GA. Murmur broke boundaries, and literally created a new musical genre. The sound lay somewhere between the jangling guitar work of ’60s bands (Beatles, Byrds), with a drive that was not unlike later bands (Clash, Elvis Costello).
The original versions of Murmur and Reckoning are $7.97. (About time the music industry started to price discs dynamically, especially on artists’ back catalogues). They are probably a decade too late, and have already lost a generation of CD buyers.
R.E.M. was overtly political. Their songs were barbed attacks on the status quo, hidden beneath hauntingly beautiful melodies, arcane lyrical language, driving drumbeats, jangly guitars, and
mumbled vocals. It was a completely idiosyncratic approach, but it worked well.
What stood out most of all were their collections of
songs, alternatively beautiful and compelling. Dramatic structures, majestic melodies, lush vocal harmonies and somewhat archaic language combined for a unique sound.
The band became a critical darling, and sold increasingly well. Each subsequent album sharpened the band’s focus, and saw their writing become increasingly layered and complex, culminating in the tight, driving rock of Document. This was the album that catapulted R.E.M. from college radio favorites to mainstream stardom — and with good cause, too. It also marked their critical (but not their commercial) peak.
A WSJ piece noted the commercial decline:
“It has been a long, slow fade for a band that came to be known both as one of the founders of alternative rock and one of the genre’s most bankable names. Its 1996 contract turned out to be the high-water mark of a five-year frenzy of wildly expensive superstar contracts across the music industry, whipped up by interlabel bidding wars and CD sales’ seemingly boundless potential for growth. Most of these deals, such as Sony Music’s $60 million contract with Michael Jackson in 1991, and Virgin’s $70 million 1996 pact with his sister Janet, proved overly optimistic about the commercial prospects of artists who were past their prime.”
That sound about right. None of these artists have since achieved any level of their former commercial — or critical — success.
Must Own Albums:
• Murmur (1983)
• Reckoning (1984)
• Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
• Document (1987)
Hey, its a special Saturday night edition of Friday Night Jazz! I mentioned Vaughn Trapp’s terrific first release, Amerika, back in 2006. I loved the rich, Beatles-like melodies and topical lyrics.(Hear it at Yahoo Music; review here). Now, Vaughn Trapp has released a new album called “Songs Of The Great Depression.” You can stream it…Read More
Its that time: We present our annual “Different Kind of Music List” for 2010; If you missed prior versions, then here’s the deal with what makes this list different: There are lots of Best of Lists out there, but most of them aren’t relevant to real people, i.e. adults (a group I have only recently…Read More
I went to a delightfully quirky pop/jazz show last night — Rickie Lee Jones at Westbury, NYCB Theatre (12/09/10).
I say quirky because of The Duchess of Coolsville’s music is genre bending — bluesy, boozey, laid back, smokey, jazz pop songs of great beauty and delicacy, held improbably together by that distinctively different voice of hers. She sports a vocal range that careens from 10 year old girl to scat impresario to deep, powerful blues singer.
Jones has had a surprising run of hit singles, despite her eclectic jazz style. 1979′s “Chuck E.’s in Love,” hit #4 on the Billboard charts (Young Blood” was the other single from the first album, Rickie Lee Jones); Her next album, Pirates spawned 3 hit singles: “A Lucky Guy,” “Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue),” and “Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking.” Later singles include “The Real End” (1984), “Satellites” (1989), and “Old Enough” (2009)
Her music is lovely and complex, and they were performed loosely by a 7 piece ensemble. At the show I went to, Jones got her best known pop tune, Chuck E’s in Love, out of the way quickly, playing it first, then settled down to an evening of outstanding (albeit somewhat sedate) music. Alternating between an acoustic guitar and a grand piano, she proceeded to play the best of her first two albums (Rickie Lee Jones, and Pirates) practically in sequence.
If you like female jazz vocalists flavored with a dollop of pop, these first two discs are gems. I own nearly RLJ’s full catalog. I was pleasantly surprised by her most recent outing, Balm in Gilead.
Last night, I recall hearing: Chuck E’s In Love, On Saturday Afternoons In 1963, Night Train, Young Blood, Easy Money, The Last Chance Texaco, Danny’s All-Star Joint, Coolsville, Weasel And The White Boys Cool, Company, After Hours, We Belong Together, Living It Up, Skeletons, Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking, Pirates (so long lonely avenue), A Lucky Guy, Traces of the Western Slopes, The Returns.
I would love to get the actual concert set list . . .
The official Rickie Lee Jones Website
Videos – including a few from last night’s show — are after the jump
I have no idea how a magazine subscription to Rolling Stone started coming to the house — probably a freebie associated with something else I bought on Amazon. (It goes straight to the bathroom magazine rack).
The cover this month has Keith Richards on the cover, discussing his new autobiography, Life.
Last weekend, I started thumbing through the excerpt . . . and I was completely engrossed, reading until my legs fell asleep. I immediately ordered it in hardcover.
I can’t wait to read it . . .
“It’s funny, gossipy, profane and moving and by the time you finish it you feel like you’re friends with Keith Richards.”
Interview with Richards on NPR Radio and on CBS TV after the jump.
David Fricke, Rolling Stone: “One of the greatest rock memoirs ever….The title of Richards’ book is a simple, accurate description on the contents: the 66-year-old guitarist’s highs, lows and death-defying excesses, from birth to now, vividly related in his natural pirate-hipster cadence and syntax….Life is ultimately two stories: one of music, misbehaviour and survival; the other a fond, perplexed, sometimes outraged telling of Richards’ life with Jagger, including their battles over control and the destiny of their band.”
Here’s from NYT review:
“For legions of Rolling Stones fans, Keith Richards is not only the heart and soul of the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band, he’s also the very avatar of rebellion: the desperado, the buccaneer, the poète maudit, the soul survivor and main offender, the torn and frayed outlaw, and the coolest dude on the planet, named both No. 1 on the rock stars most-likely-to-die list and the one life form (besides the cockroach) capable of surviving nuclear war.
Halfway through his electrifying new memoir, “Life,” Keith Richards writes about the consequences of fame: the nearly complete loss of privacy and the weirdness of being mythologized by fans as a sort of folk-hero renegade.
“I can’t untie the threads of how much I played up to the part that was written for me,” he says. “I mean the skull ring and the broken tooth and the kohl. Is it half and half? I think in a way your persona, your image, as it used to be known, is like a ball and chain. People think I’m still a goddamn junkie. It’s 30 years since I gave up the dope! Image is like a long shadow. Even when the sun goes down, you can see it.”
By turns earnest and wicked, sweet and sarcastic and unsparing, Mr. Richards, now 66, writes with uncommon candor and immediacy. He’s decided that he’s going to tell it as he remembers it, and helped along with notebooks, letters and a diary he once kept, he remembers almost everything. He gives us an indelible, time-capsule feel for the madness that was life on the road with the Stones in the years before and after Altamont; harrowing accounts of his many close shaves and narrow escapes (from the police, prison time, drug hell); and a heap of sharp-edged snapshots of friends and colleagues — most notably, his longtime musical partner and sometime bête noire, Mick Jagger.”
Rolling Stone Photos
Life By Keith Richards with James Fox
Illustrated. 564 pages. Little, Brown & Company.
Keith Richards Website
The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards Looks Back At ‘Life’
NPR, A October 25, 2010
I saw the original Pink Floyd The Wall concert at Nassau Coliseum back in 1980. Floyd played something like 8 shows between Nassau Coliseum and Los Angeles. I always assumed that The Wall would show its age over time, and surprisingly, that isn’t really the case. What was an quasi-autobiographical discussion of a single person’s…Read More