I thought I’d celebrate the fact that I’ve just signed up for Amazon’s Associate programme by listing the ten most recent albums I’ve bought (all within the last couple of weeks, but only one of which I actually purchased from Amazon, if I’m honest). I’ve been going through a “old music is good music” faze, so don’t expect to fnd anything by Gorillaz. Or any of that other music that children listen to.
Norman Blake – Slow Train Through Georgia. Not to be confused with Teenage Fanclubs’s Norman Blake or mother murdering Norman Bates, or even Brighton’s Norman Cook, Norman Blake contributed to the glorious soundtrack to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, and if you liked that, you’ll like this. A modern take on Bluegrass without deviating too much from the original blueprint, Norman often records albums with his wife, Nancy. This recording is not one of those.
Johnny Dowd – Temporary Shelter Johnny gives hope to pipedreaming musicians everywhere. He didn’t pick up a guitar until he was thirty, wrote his first tune in his forties and now, at the age of 53, has just released his third album. Fans of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave will find plenty to enjoy here. Or rather, plenty of doom and gloom to revel in.
Jim White – No Such Place A little more straightforward than his debut, Jim White’s second album will curry favour amongst fans of Beck, but still reflects the twisted middle-american and religious imagery that so dominated the first album. “His lyrics mix the calm fatalism of old country music with the fractured causality of Surrealism, while his arrangements set the words in a backwoods filled with electronic ghosts.” – New York Times
Paul Robeson – The Odyssey Paul Robeson once walked on to a Berlin stage in 1923 to face ten minutes of hissing and booing, directed at the colour of his skin. Robeson calmly waited for the vitriol to subside, before reducing most of the previously hostile audience to tears with a version of the German art song “Die Bist Die Ruh.” Now there’s something you don’t get with Hear’Say.
Alison Krauss & Union Station – So Long So Wrong I haven’t actually listened to this yet – so here’s the blurb from the back of the CD: “Take bluegrass back to the future for the day. As with all Alison Krauss and Union Station albums, there are no gimmicks here, just down home virtuosity and blah blah blah etc yadda yadda” OK, so I changed the last bit. Shoot me.
The Shangri La’s – Best Of I really only bought this disc for one track, Past, Present and Future, which is one of the most bizarre yet beautiful tracks in popular music history. Over a stunningly simple piano background, a whispered, almost claustrophobic vocal tells a story of… well, I’ve never really been sure. It could be the tale of a rape victim, but only the “don’t touch” line suggests this. Whatever, it’s a peculiar masterpiece.
Staple Singers – Greatest Hits Roebuck, Cleotha, Mavis, Pervis and Yvonne. Not a law firm, but one of the great African-American groups featuring a father and his four daughters. In fact, one of the few great African-American groups featuring a father and his four daughters. The family sang on The Weight, from The Band’s Last Waltz, another of the truly supreme moments in pop. Which isn’t on this record.
Jimmy Scott – The Source. A typical conversation with someone hearing Jimmy Scott for the first time goes something like this: “Who’s this?” “It’s Jimmy Scott.” “Jimmy? I thought it was a woman singing!” And it’s an understandable reaction. And then you realize that he’s a huge influence on the style of female jazz singers like Nancy Wilson. There’s no denying the man’s genius.
Anita O’Day – The Sad Young Men A real female jazz singer, the “sad young men” of the album title refers to those poor, lonely, disfunctional types who, instead of going out and interacting with other human beings on a Friday night, stay up to all hours compiling useless lists of records for the personal websites they build. Or it might not do.
Annie Ross – Sings A Handful Of Songs Another jazz singer. You might remember Annie as the one with the red hair in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. Which is not as good a film as Annie is a singer. And that should be enough for anyone.
Well folks, that’s all. My mercifully brief and extremely laboured entry into the world of rock journalism is over. I feel like Captain Oates, and may not return to this particular landscape for some time. Goodnight.