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And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats - Matthew 25:32

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February 19, 2008


New CD Album Releases, 2-19-2008: Ray Davies, Nick Lowe, American Music Club
Ray DaviesThere's one obvious new album this week that would bear looking into, Ray Davies' second solo album, Working Man's Cafe. He only put out his first solo album Other Peoples Lives in 2006 after 40 odd years of leading the Kinks.

The deluxe edition (just a couple bucks more) includes Americana A Work In Progress, a DVD of a Ray Davies film documenting his his 2001 Storyteller tour with his readings of stories and some of these songs, apparently.

Not exactly new, but THE groovy thing this week is kinda like new, the Yep Roc release of a 30th anniversary edition of his classic 1978 Nick Lowe solo album debut Jesus of Cool. It's kinda like new in that the album got butchered up in the American release in the actual songs and content, and even the album title. We Americans have had a groovy album called Pure Pop for Now People made up mostly of most of the Jesus of Cool songs, with a couple of others thrown in.

Whereas this Yep Roc release has the entire English album under the original ultra-groovy title, with additional songs from the American release - every song ever on either the English or American releases - and several bonuses, including an early version of Lowe's main actual hit single, "Cruel to Be Kind." Best I know of, this is the first time an album has been issued under the Jesus of Cool title in the US.

Nick Lowe is the Jesus of CoolAll that record company nonsense aside, Jesus of Cool is a landmark album. Nick Lowe was a major architect of what would broadly come to be called "new wave." Take this album along with the first three Elvis Costello albums that Lowe was producing at this same time (and throw in a couple of Police and Clash albums), and there's pretty much of the blueprint for how the new wave connected the Protestant reformation of punk rock back into popular music.

Beyond that kind of grand theorizing though, Jesus of Cool was a killer batch of memorable pop songs. Among the classics that have enriched my days for a couple of decades now, I might start with "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass." I recently saw it described as a Bo Diddley beat, but I've thought of it as something of a disco song. The inherently genteel spirit of Nick Lowe belies the nominal malevolence of the lyric, but you might consider this a punk Bo Diddley disco song.

"So It Goes" would make a good textbook example of "power pop." It could have been from the Armed Forces sessions that Lowe would have been producing somewhere within that same year, though again the gentle empathy of the sentiments are non-Elvis like. Some days this is my favorite song, and I've only with age really come to fully appreciate the sympathetic image of the US diplomat trying to keep a lid on the chaos
All day discussions with the Russians
But they still went ahead
and vetoed the plan
Now up jumped the U.S. representative
He's the one with the tired eyes
747 put him in that condition
Flyin' back from a peace keepin' mission

"No Reason" has a fairly unique effect as a reggae inflected rock beat carrying a particularly delicate ballad urging a girl to dry her tears. It's a particularly tender moment.

I couldn't write about this album without saying a few words for "36 Inches High." The basic point of it is a regretful lament from a minion of the ruling class, remembrances of the suffering he'd inflicted on people as a soldier and then as a tax collector. Thinking on it, by rights it is the most clear cut slow ballad of the batch, but it doesn't feel like one. Besides being one of the most directly sincere and heartfelt songs on the record, it's one of the most unique production sounds. There's a relatively long introduction with the bass guitar and the freaky organ/synthesizer rising up that'll likely stick with you from the first time you hear it.

Nick Lowe, the savior of pop musicNick Lowe was also a good spokesman for punk era attitudes of skepticism about the whole idea of music as a profession. The first song here is "Music for Money." Note also the similarly sarcastic outlook in "Shake and Pop." In the bonus songs is one I don't recall hearing previously that goes to that same kind of skepticism, "I Love My Label." I'm guessing that Nick has managed to make a decent living from this, but it's at least spiritually appropriate that he's done business at some points as proprietor of Keepitasahobby Productions.

Yet there's the perfect empathy for the music experience, particularly from a fan's view in the very strong but gentle anticipation of the "Roller Show." As part of the rock and roll Protestant reformation, Nick Lowe is progressive in looking for new sounds and styles but also as a Protestant reclaiming not so much specific sounds but spirits of the early rock era. These words of love for the Bay City Rollers often put me in mind of Buddy Holly. It doesn't really sound like a Holly record, but his spirit is all in this.

Marie ProvostFor all of that, the centerpiece of this album and perhaps Lowe's career is "Marie Provost." It's the most distinctly old-fashion song on the record, though again it's difficult to put a finger on exacly which old fashion. The closest thing spiritually is what Lowe would likely recognize as cheesy old school rock melodramas like "Leader of the Pack."

The story is based on the sad, lonely death of silent era film starlet Mary Bickford Dunn, stage name Marie Prevost. I find now that Lowe was playing very loose with the actual biographical details, starting with misspelling her stage name. But I could imagine that being a subtle purposeful artistic effect, one more little sad thing, so forgotten that her name gets spelled wrong even in her own song 40 years after her passing.

Lowe totally gets it both ways in this song. He's certainly making horribly morbid humor of the story of "a winner who became a doggie's dinner." Yet it's truly full of empathy for the plight of poor, poor Marie and even her sad little dachshound and the human condition in general.
Speaking of tragic fallen stars and re-releases of classic albums, poor Michael Jackson gets screwed at Billboard this week. The 25h anniversary edition of Thriller that came out a couple of weeks ago sold some 166,000 US copies, making it by rights the #2 selling album of the week. But Billboard officially considers this the same as the old album, and thus not eligible for the top albums, but must remain ghettoized as a "catalog" album. This is despite having five more songs than the 1982 original, and a whole bonus DVD. It's tough being Michael Jackson.

Top Songs
Flo Rida - Elevator Lyrics
Haynes Susan - I'd Rather Be In Love With You Lyrics
2 Pistols - She Got It Lyrics
Jupiter Rising - Electropop Lyrics
Lyfe Jennings - Never Never Land Lyrics
3 Doors Down - It's Not My Time Lyrics
Cowboy Crush - Miss Difficult Lyrics
Chris Fields - My Escape Lyrics
Cowboy Crush - Some Men Don't Cheat Lyrics
C-Murder - One False Move Lyrics
Get your blog's here.

Here's the listing of this week's new album releases, courtesy AMG:

American Music Club
The Golden Age
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

mature Ray Davies on stageRay Davies
Working Man's Cafe
Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter

Nick Lowe
Jesus of Cool [Bonus Tracks]
Yep Roc
Pop/Rock, Power Pop, New Wave, Rock & Roll

Allison Moorer
New Line
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Folk-Rock

The Raveonettes
Lust Lust Lust
Fierce Panda
Noise Pop, Indie Rock

Atlas Sound
Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
Experimental Rock, Indie Rock

Roland Auzet
Percussion(s) [Includes Book and DVD]
Modern and Contemporary Music for Percussion

LaVern Baker
Classics R&B
Jump Blues, R&B

Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Rock

Peter Brotzmann/Peeter Uuskyla
Born Broke
Free Improvisation, Avant-Garde Jazz, Free Jazz

Geoffrey Burleson
Vincent Persichetti: Complete Piano Sonatas
New World
Modern Piano Music

Chris Cagle
My Life's Been a Country Song
Contemporary Country, Country-Pop

Dig That Treasure
Asthmatic Kitty
Experimental, Indie Pop, Experimental Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental

A Cursive Memory
Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk-Pop, Emo

Mike Doughty
Golden Delicious
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock

Roky Erickson & the Explosives
Garage Rock, Psychedelic, Rock & Roll, Proto-Punk

Faces of the Night
Menlo Park
Experimental Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental

Dallas Frazier
The R&B Sessions: Elvira/Tell It Like It Is
Rock & Roll, Pub Rock

Jennifer Goltz
Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire; Brattl-Lieder
MSR Classics
Modern Vocal Music

The Grand Archives
Grand Archives
Sub Pop
Indie Pop, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Some Racing, Some Stopping
Indie Pop, Indie Rock

Levon Helm imageLevon Helm
Levon Helm & the RCO All-Stars/American Son
Roots Rock, Country-Rock, Rock & Roll

B.B. King
Modern Electric Blues, Soul-Blues, R&B

Justus Köhncke
Safe and Sound
Left-Field House, Club/Dance, Techno

Jim Lauderdale
Honey Songs
Yep Roc
Americana, Alternative Country, Progressive Bluegrass, Progressive Country

Gary Louris
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Roots Rock

Dive Deep
Downtempo, Trip-Hop

The Mountain Goats
Heretic Pride
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

John Nardolillo
Thomas Pasatieri: Hotel Casablanca
Contemporary Opera

No Kids
Come into My House
Indie Pop

Brough, Paul
Robert Hugill: The Testament of Dr. Cranmer and Other Works
Divine Art
Contemporary Sacred Choral Music

University of Calgary Wind Ensemble
Contemporary Music for Wind Ensemble

14 Kt. God
Kill Rock Stars
Indie Electronic, Indie Pop

Seven Mary Three
Day & Nightdriving
Post-Grunge, Alternative Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Donita Sparks & The Stellar Moments
Alternative Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter

Throw Me the Statue
Baskerville Hill
Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi

Various Artists
Don't Press Your Luck! The in Sound of 60's Connecticut
Garage Rock, Rock & Roll

Billy Vera & the Beaters
Hopeless Romantic: The Best of Billy Vera & the Beaters
Shout! Factory
Blue-Eyed Soul, Soul


posted by Al at 2/19/2008 10:28:00 PM

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