The Early Bird: New Releases 11-13-20 – 11-19-20 Reviewed
Ah yes, rock n roll: the Donald Trump of musical idioms, it struts around like it is still the winner while hip hop kills it on every chart known to man (except for the rock and roll chart). A couple of weeks ago there was Bruce Springsteen still pretending he has any relevance in popular mechanics of sound, earlier today I reviewed Foo Fighters “Shame Shame Shame” (here) (Grade: D) and here is Keith Richards and the X Pensive Winos re-releasing Live at the Hollywood Palladium from 1991 with three extra songs, including “I Wanna Be Your Man”. The fear with Keith is that it would be an album of “Little T&A” and “Happy” – the Stones while Mick was offstage taking a wee on the wall. But it is more than that, because, yes, that is Bobby Keys on sax, and superstar journeymen Waddy Wachtel, Charley Drayton, Ivan Neville, and drummer doubling as band leader Steve Jordan. It is a real pleasure (Tomas Doncker was at the gig and claims it was much more than that in person), all the Stones songs are pretty good and just the freshness of “Connection” make it a whole lotta cool for sure (Grade: B+). Still with rock, or at least rock pop: Elton John’s album of obscurities Jewel Box is eight hours plus of oh, yeah, not so much (Grade: C-). A touch more rock and roll, POWER ON is AC/DC’s the hard rocking Australian’s return since the excellent 2014 album, and here is Brian Johnson, Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams returning to the band, alongside Angus and Stevie Young, dedicated to Malcolm Young, much in the same way that Back in Black was dedicated to Bon Scott according to Expedia. It is fine, hand crafted, hard hitting rock and roll, and while a touch slower and less special sauce than Rock Or Bust, it is a fine equivocation of all that is best in the band (Grade: A-) .
Back to singles, Billie Eilish has her own special sauce working on this clever break-up song that sounds like the business as usual beats and repetition in a smart put down break-up, try the video while you’re at it on “Therefore I Am”, of her three singles this year this one is in the middle (Grade: B+), Thomas Rhett has an electric guitar ringing mainstream country bore with “What’s Your Country Song” (Grade: C), three hip hop tracks, a catchy Rico Nasty, “OHFR?” straight up rap with a catchy sample and an on the second beat rap (Grade: B), coming off their most successful album to date hitting us in the summer of 2020 with not much else around Run The Jewels cleaned up, but “No Save Point” is nothing if not nothing special for some Game Consul soundtrack (Grade: C+). I don’t see why Lil Nas X should be forever tethered to a one horse town,”HOLIDAY” is pretty, addictive hip hop pop (Grade: B).
Back to albums, Pluto x Baby Pluto by Future and Lil Uzi Vert is a little 2018 and even so they are beat driven, low key, pop jams with autotune up to the ears and a consistent sixteen track welcome winner (Grade: B+) . Chris Stapleton can be way too overdone for either country or anything else, he has a strong, passionate voice but he sings every thing to a standstill and having said that, he messes with country, rock, blues, roots, and Americana at will and while I totally get you probably prefer Traveller, I prefer Starting Over, especially the title track but really everything is better. We may also agree both Traveller and Starting are better than the two From A Room. With Starting Over I am justly impressed with his best album to date (Grade: A-).
And even worse than the Foo’s single is the Johnny Cash being dragged over to the Royal Philharmonic where they stick their middlebrow horror of Cash goes to the pops Johnny Cash and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – I’m sure they will love it in the UK (Presley got stuck on top with the same crap concept) but over here the orchestra are obstrussive and worse than unnecessary, harmful (Grade: F)
POWER UP – AC/DC – A-
Therefore I Am – Billie Eilish – B
Starting Over – Chris Stapleton – A-
Jewel Box – Elton John – C-
Shame Shame Shame – Foo Fighters – D
Pluto x Baby Pluto – Future, Lil Uzi Vert – B+
Johnny Cash and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Johnny Cash, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
HOLIDAY – Lil Nas X – B
Live at the Hollywood Palladium – Keith Richards, X-Pensive Winos – B+
OHFR? – Rico Nasty – B
No Save Point – From “Cyberpunk 2077” – Run The Jewels – C+
What’s Your Country Song – Thomas Rhett – C