The Early Bird: Top New Releases 9-20-19 – 9-26-19 Reviewed
It’s a new week with lots and lots of old songs released as different takes or live, and I am, as always, beholding to Julie Burchill who noted years ago: I’d rather hear a good song twice than a bad song once. And they don’t come better than Prince’s “1999,” currently on my mind due to the Dave Chappelle Netflix special “Sticks And Stones,” wherein Chappelle pinpointed one line, Prince’s response to doomsday, “You know I didn’t even care”. The “1999 [Live at Masonic Hall, Detroit, MI, 11/30/1982 – Late Show],” a tour I caught, is a full throated jamalong ten minute take. Apparently, the Prince estate is readying a 1999 box set ($250) (Grade: A).
Speaking of box sets, earlier this summer we got Bob Dylan’s bootleg tapes dating from 1975, on November 1st we will be getting Travelin’ Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15, and hopefully it will include the Johnny Cash outtakes from Nashville Skyline (I used to own it as a boot). The first two songs off Vol 15, “I Pity The Poor Immigrant Take 4” (Grade: B) and “Tell Me That It Isn’t True Take 2)” (Grade: A-), the latter taken faster, the former softened. There is a spoken word plus backing Leonard Cohen, “The Goal,” poetic and bland (Grade: B-). Produced by Trevor Horn, Rod Stewart has an album of versions of his hits featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, “Sailing” is the second single and more than lends itself to a big sound delivery (Grade: B). Next, two wholly unnecessary new mixes, “Come Together by the Beatles (Grade: A) and the Kinks’ “Shangri-La” -can an Arthur Box Set be far behind? (Grade; A-). Two more old songs/new releases, Carole King’s Live At Montreux 1973, so way too much Fantasy from a performer who has never been great on stage (tethered to her piano) (Grade: C+), and the Best Of Billy Bragg At The BBC 1983 – 2019, which could only be better if it was longer. Hang around for “She’s Got A new Spell”(Grade: A-).
Still on albums, blink-182 will always miss Tom DeLonge, but their second album with Matt Skiba , Nine, is much better than California, and while the singles seemed to lack a center of gravity that isn’t true on the album which sustains a return to their pop-punk roots with enough power to make you get that Matt -who was great with Alkaline Trio, might be the man for the job (Grade: B). Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard goes solo on Jaime, for something of a recherchez to her roots, and to her late big sister. I could so without “13th Century Metal” and yet the album holds together nicely as a deep dive into her roots and also into her musical vision of soul meets electronica with that wonderful and warm voice (Grade: B). Liam Gallagher’s Why Me? Why Not? is Oasis without the greatness, but still Oasis (Grade: B-).
Best Of Billy Bragg At The BBC 1983 – 2019 – Billy Bragg – A-
Nine – blink 182 – B
I Pity The Poor Immigrant Take 4 – Bob Dylan – B
Tell Me That It Isn’t True Take 2 – Bob Dylan – A-
Jaime – Brittany Howard – B
Live At Montreux 1973 – Carole King – C+
The Goal – Leonard Cohen – B-
Why Me? Why Not – Liam Gallagher – B-
1999 [Live at Masonic Hall, Detroit, MI, 11/30/1982 – Late Show] – Prince – A
Sailing – Rod Stewart with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – B
Come Together – The Beatles – A
Shangri-La – The Kinks – A-