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Ani DiFranco, Barstool Prophets, Band, Utah Phillips

The Band – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

I got this CD for $5 brand new, and have enjoyed it several times already. This trip through was no different. I was surprised, then, that it’s really just a re-editing of the Rock Of Ages set (which I don’t own = oversiiiiight!). If this is true, this disc is just a cash-grab by the label. At least, that’s what the internets told me, and we all trust everything the internets has to say! But do I care, really? Nope (or at least not until I get RoA!). The music here is great (I loved the trumpets in the title track!), and the song selection and sound quality is excellent. Perfectly fine for my $5.

Barstool Prophets – Crank

Here’s a blast from the mid-90s. I was surprised to find this one still in my collection, honestly. I know for sure I would have kept it for Little Death (Oh Mary Mary), such a cool song, but the rest of this CD turned out to be quite tight, highly enjoyable rock music. It has very big sound, and the songs are very well-done. This was a great find, I really enjoyed hearing it again. I played this one a lot, in the mid-90s, so it’s rediscovering an old friend, for me now!

Ani Difranco & Utah Phillips – The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere*

Can I even begin to express how cool this CD is? And lucky thing, too, because this sort of thing could equally have gone into suckage territory – pairing music with old tapes of an old man speaking? Dicey! But this is Ani we’re talking about, and she has yet do anything even mediocre. And Phillips seems the right mix of ornery and intelligent to be a remarkable storyteller. Even the looping of his voice is OK, as it drives points home. So many great quotes here, like “…the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked!’ There’s plenty here that’s heartfelt, poignant and, yes, wrenching too, as you get pulled effortlessly along. The music is fanastic (of course). The whole thing is a clear-eyed and brilliant master stroke. I can’t recommend this enough.

 

Purchased during the 2014 trip to Toronto with Mike. There’s a second volume to this collaboration, called Fellow Workers. I do not own it currently, but listening back to this one again made me want it!

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The Band

Already with this New Year system, I’ve heard a lot of records over the past few days and it has been an awesome time! The music’s playing fairly non-stop, and my head’s a-buzzin’ with all the goodness!

But next up in my list came the Band, and I decided that, since it was a Sunday listening session, I would leave it to them and keep it pure. After all of this, I didn’t want to dilute them with anything else.

The Band – Music From Big Pink*
The Band – The Band*

I cannot add meaningfully to the decades of slobbering scholarship and jibbering fandom that has grown up around this band, and these two records, so I won’t even try. I’ve started countless descriptive sentences, only to delete all of them because they are all understatement. It may seem like a cop-out to write-up these two albums in such a short, fairly uninformative paragraph, but listening through these two CDs today, with all bonus tracks as well, I was struck with only the thought that the love, admiration and adoration accorded these records is utterly, unquestionably justified. ESSENTIAL.

* My versions came as a 2CD set with bonus tracks, as pictured below, and for only about $10. I know!

James, Scott Weiland, The Band, Bruce Springsteen, and Serena Ryder

Here’s another batch…

James – Hey Ma

Everybody remembers Laid, but James has been around a long time and always makes really cool music when they’re at it. Hey Ma is full of captivating pop beauty, currently-relevant lyrics and uplifting musical generosity. This one should be huge. Get it.

Scott Weiland – Happy In Galoshes

Whatever troubles Weiland has had in his personal life, the fact remains that the man can write a catchy tune between benders, whether it’s for STP, VR or these sporadic solo efforts. This one has a lot of good single moments here and there, even an appropriate Bowie cover, but sadly this album is too scattered to be satisfying.

The Band – The Last Waltz

We watched this amazing film with friends on New Year’s Eve, which could easily become a tradition for me. So many phenomenal artists, so much beautiful music, one unbelievable concert. Truly a show you hope will never end. Forget our plastic culture’s mindless numbness to superlative – this one’s a true classic.

Bruce Springsteen – Working On A Dream

The Boss can still show off that carnival swirl of the old days, and lately he’s nurturing the good sense to slow things down more often. This record’s what you’d expect, actually. There are the inevitable dud tracks (Outlaw Pete, Queen Of The Supermarket), but the rest is solid Springsteen.

Serena Ryder – Is It OK

This artist only grows stronger with each new release, and she was bloody strong to begin with, as you know already. Her growing confidence lends pure power to her every move. Even better, there’s still that raw edge in her approach, which I’ve always found totally appealing. Each song here could be a single. I really, really liked this.

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