The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 2-12-21 – 2-18-21 Reviewed
“Love Story” is an exceptional song, it is the one, undoubted, long term, into the history books Taylor Swift, a re-write of “Romeo And Juliet” the way ” Inglourious Basterds” re-wrote the defeat of Nazi Germany. That isn’t what happened according to Shakespeare, but it is what might have happened. Taylor Swift lost the rights of her back catalog to a Hedge Fund, and is re-recording her first albums from scratch. Fearless is first, and “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” is the first result and it is a misfire. She sounds too old, the fear and exultation of the original is stood on with a tasteful take on a song that was once all teenage exuberance; it reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode, where a mightily depressed advertising exec (Gig Young) stumbles into his childhood till his mother tells Gig, this time belongs to the child and not the adult. Same with the song here. It doesn’t hurt as such, because, well, we still have the original. But, with the exception of that terrific “Match” commercial, I don’t hear why friends would chose it… for the record it will be much easier to re-record “Mean” than her masterpiece (Grade: B).
Over to albums, we have already reviewed Judas and the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album earlier today (here) and concluded that despite songs by H.E.R. and Rakim, it is too tasteful for a hip hop album (Grade: B+). The last time I said anything nice about Phoebe Bridgers was when I reviewed “Motion Sickness” off her debut album, but the initial album release on her Saddest Factory Records is a non-binary and youthful set of indie pop songs by the wonderful Claud, Super Monster (Grade: B+); Taylor Momsen returns to her hard rocking classicist’s The Pretty Reckless for the first time in five years with a rip snorting, burn down the houses, we didn’t know we missed ya Death By Rock And Roll (Grade: B+). Wanna hear about things you live to regret? I had tickets to see Amy Winehouse at Bowery Ballroom and blew it off and while I admire and love this Shepherd’s Bush gig from the same year, it is only half an hour in length and while her voice is still able to stop you in the tracks, it is a shame there isn’t more on I Told You I Was Trouble: Live In London culled from the DVD circa Back In Black (Grade: A-). The first album Black Sabbath produced themselves, 1972’s Vol. 4 is given a contemporary remastering (Grade: A-), The Band’s underappreciated third album Stage Fright is remixed by legendary producer Bob Clearmountain and includes a Live at the Royal Albert Hall, June 1971, album as well as the usual whistles and toots (Grade: A).
Back at singles, the other Destiny Child, Kelly Rowland, has an excellent, dancehall flattered art r&b goodie in “Black Magic” (Grade: B+), Lil Tjay is joined by one of our best r&b guys 6lack on the autotuned and still tuneful “Calling My Phone” (Grade: B), come on Rhiannon Giddens, enough with these fucking revisiting of old school blues Americana, we have sat through a streaming show, a lesson on minstreling, and an album, and just when you hoped it was out of her blood stream we get “Calling Me Home” which is more of the same (Grade: B-). Carrie Underwood covers a country hymn favorite “Softy And Tenderly” if only to remind you why you loved Amy Grant’s take so much (Grade: C), Liz Phair tributes her buddy Lou Reed on “Hey Lou,” which imagines Reed at his lowest ebb (Grade: C-). For all my LGBTQ friends, Samantha Sidley did the gorgeous 2019 “I Like Girls” and I missed it then and caught it now, and while “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes ” is an odd choice for a follow up, hey, it ain’t bad cabaret style jazz leanings (Grade: B)
I Told You I Was Trouble: Live In London – Amy Winehouse – A-
Vol 4 – Black Sabbath – A-
Softly And Tenderly – Carrie Underwood – B-
Super Monster – Claud – B+
Calling My Phone – Lil Tjay, 6lack
Hey Lou – Liz Phair – C-
Calling Me Home (with Francesco Turrisi) – Rhiannon Giddens, Francesco Turrisi – B-
A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Samantha Sidley – B
Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” – Taylor Swift – B
Stage Fright (Deluxe Remix 2020) – The Band – A
Death By Rock And Roll – The Pretty Reckless – B+
Judas and the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album – Various Artists – B+