Friday, June 13, 2008

Elton John's One Night Only

Released in 2000, this is hardly indicative of the fabulous in-concert experience the flamboyant entertainer still provides. We just saw him on tour, and he sounded a lot better than anything captured here. Not terrible, but the only track I want to hear again is "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" with Mary J. Blige.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Led Zeppelin's How the West Was Won

It took me long enough to catch up with this mammoth 3-CD live set. Wildly overpraised at the time of its release - sure, it's better than Song Remains the Same, but so are Yesshows and Chicago IV Live at Carnegie Hall - this offers some fine performances, but the simultaneously released DVD (entitled simply Led Zeppelin) is superior. "Moby Dick" and "Dazed and Confused" are particularly unendurable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dolly Parton's For God and Country

The only misstep in a run that produced three fine pseudo-bluegrass efforts on the Sugar Hill label, a kick-ass live CD & DVD, a fun covers album, and the recent, excellent Backwoods Barbie. Recorded and released at the beginning of Shock and Awe, this is a well-meaning but incredibly hokey affair. Still, I never doubt Dolly's sincerity, and while "Ballad of the Green Beret" isn't much of an improvement over Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler's original, I'll take her version of "God Bless the U.S.A." over Lee Greenwood's any old time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Remains' Movin' On

One reason Barry Tashian and his band's 2002 comeback album works so well is that it's not really a comeback album after all. Few knew about the Remains' 1967 debut until it was reissued last year. This is fine rock and roll with a slight twang - songs about girls, cars, delivered with punch...what more could you want?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tom Waits' Mule Variations

Late '90s gem is accessible enough to get the non-Waits fans interested, though there is plenty of weird stuff like "Eyeball Kid" and the spoken-word masterpiece "What's He Building?" Best of all is the achingly gorgeous "Picture in a Frame."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rebel Meets Rebel's Rebel Meets Rebel

Inspired collaboration between David Allan Coe and members of Pantera. I recently saw Coe do a half-assed one-hour show at a local club, and while he didn't do any of these songs, he did have a heavy metal guitar apparently bequeathed to him by Dimebag Darrell.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Marvin Gaye's What's Going On

How unfortunately that Marvin's protest-soul masterpiece is still relevant. Sending boys off to die, what's happening brother, makes me wanna holler... wonder why people still wanna fly high in that friendly sky?

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Rolling Stones' Aftermath

My favorite Stones album today. Tomorrow it might be Now! or Exile or Let It Bleed or even Tattoo You ('80s kid). Sad to see that the Stones' ABKCO catalog is no longer available at emusic.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ray Charles' Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again

This album preceded the Grammy-winning "Genius Loves Company" and didn't garner much attention. Not that it's awful, just that the material - mostly generic R&B lite - is not worthy of Ray's efforts. Oddly, the modernized version of "What'd I Say" that opens the disc isn't as horrible as you might imagine.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Robert & James' One Rock at a Time

This is the second album from the superb DeFuniak Springs, FL-based gospel duo. I wrote a profile of these guys for the local newspaper and was absolutely knocked out by their music. Whether you're a believer or no, you have to agree that Robert and James are blessed with enormous talent. Available from

Monday, June 2, 2008

Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin II

Almost 40 years after the fact, this rocks harder than any of the current crop of followers and imitators. I don't know how I got by on compilations all these years; all of the original Zep studio albums are essential.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door

Their Yes album? Just listen to the keybs on "Carouselambra" and you'd swear Rick Wakeman had infiltrated the band.