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Brief Encounters: New Albums 11-19-21 – 11-25-22 Reviewed

30 – Adele – “All Night Parking” is Corinne Rae Bailey meets SZA – A-

Happy Together – André Rieu, Johann Strauss Orchestra – The difference between the Royal Philharmonic’s necrophilism and the Johann Strauss Orchestras melodic excavations isn’t just André Rieu’s character as the conductor but the clean instrumental versions rather than the cut and paste horrorshows of the Philharmonic’s Motown. In the end, all classical music is performing dead people’s music, it all depends on how you do it. It helps if you perform em as waltzes – B

Samba De Orfeo – Antônio Carlos Jobim – lf you don’t know “Manhã de Carnaval,” you should if you love samba, it is the theme to the French director Marcel Camus’ “Black Orpheus” and it helped break samba in the states. Samba De Orfeo is the soundtrack remastered and available for streaming, so stream it – A

Blacklight – Apollo Brown, Stalley – Apollo gives a powerful a backbed for Stalley’s first rate boom bat variant, especially “We Outside” that might stand as one of the best tracks of the year – B+

Live To Tape: Volume II – Bahamas – The excellent singer songwriter with an analog treat that includes a strong Dylan cover and a handful of Afie originals – B

The Other Side of Life: Piano Ballads – Beach Fossils – The great dream popscape electronic indie band, rearrange the songs as smooth jazz piano excursion. Does it work? It does – A-

At My Piano – Brian Wilson – lovely instrumental versions from the catalog – B+

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts – The problem is, Bruce has been releasing every show he has ever performed on his website (at ten bucks a pop) and so this hour long circa Darkness concert is good enough but there is better and more complete 1979 concerts out there – B+

(An Overview on) An Overview on Phenomenal Nature – Cassandra Jenkins – a remix of her great indie-folk album from earlier this year, the demo of “Michelangelo” is a must hear and the album is quiet, mediative, and yet completely arresting – B+

Teaser And The Firecat (Deluxe) – Cat Stevens – Teaser is his best album and a deluxe version should be the box set of your dreams. And the super deluxe IRL has 41 previously unreleased audio tracks, and well might be. But the streaming version has only four additional songs and is , therefore, useless – C

Flying Into Mystery – Christy Moore – The Irish folk icon with a lovely collection of songs from 2021’s Lifetime Achievement honour at the Irish Folk Awards, the songs are perfect including a traditional cover and one of the best Dylan covers you’ll ever hear – A-

Mother – Cleo De Sol – half of the surreally overrated Sault soft funk UKers, but Sarah Niles (the therapist on Ted Lasso) dubbed Cleo her favorite singer so you gotta give her another chance. So give Cleo another chance – C+

Bloodmoon: I – Converge, Chelsea Moon – post-hardcore add soft and raw Chelsea Wolfe to overpowered noise like a grunge update – B+

Other People’s Lives – Dan Campbell – Soupy’s best album since The Wonder Year’s The Greatest Generation is very lyrical and intelligent songs of sadness Americana style, like Jesse Malin if Malin was any good, “I Love You. I Miss. Goodnight.” is a classic album closer, “Conversations WIth Flowers” a gently acoustic strum opener that survives its name, and the rest of the album a constant pleasure – A-

Look At The Moon! (Live Phoenix Festival 97) – David Bowie – another late-90s live album, a nice “Quicksand” – B+

At The Kit Kat Klub (Live New York 99) – David Bowie – The Kit Kat Klub is where Natasha Richardson starred in the best live “Cabaret” I ever saw. And I noticed this gig and decided against it at the time… but the truth is that while Bowie could be great on stage, he was usually indifferent and this is filled with dogs – B

Something In The Air (Live Paris 99) – David Bowie – he just wasn’t as good in the 90s, and this is filled with 90s songs – B

Home Alone 2 – D-Block Europe – the collective is lead by Londoners Young Adz & Dirtbike, performing straight ahead rap pop and while it doesn’t add up to much it still has keepers – B-

Stomping Ground – Dion – a straight drag, throw away the album and play the featured performers – Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen,Patti Scialfa, Billy Gibbons, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton, Boz Scaggs, Rickie Lee Jones, Peter Frampton, and the one exception, “I Got My Eyes On You, Baby” rockabilly blues track with the estimitable Marcia Ball – C

I’m a Rainbow: Recovered & Recoloured – Donna Summer – recorded in 1981 with Giorgio Moroder, it got shelved by David Geffen and Donna returned to the studio with Quincy Jones. Initially released in 1996, it is soulful as opposed to BPM addicted and a real find… funnily enough it is better than the QUincy album she end up releasing – B+

EODM Presents: A Boots Electric Christmas – Eagles Of Death Metal – shoot from the hip seasonal songs includes a pleasant “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” and a first rate “Little Drummer Boy” (a song built for rock beats) – B-

Flying Dream 1 – Elbow – pretty and well arranged songs of stunning tedium from a band well past their prime, Guy needs to give us more than this, it’s prog-folk Brits who came up with Radiohead – C

Persona Non Grata – Exodus – the great thrash metalers, around since the 80s, with a businesslike collection of prog-rock meets thrash speed metal – B+

They Got Amnesia – French Montana – The Algerian via the Bronx rapper moves from drill with Fivio and (gasp) Pop Smoke to pop stars in extremis Doja Cat and Saweetie ON THE SAME TRACK, but while the albums expertise is indisputable, the hour set goes on too long – B

The House Is Burning [homies begged] – Isaiah Rashad – the deluxe version of the 2021 finds the Southern rapper at his very best, the album got lost in the shuffle this summer and the TDE performer and former Black hippy (here at MSG in 2018) is very good on these moody trap rap tracks. The one with SZA AND 6lack is a must hear – B+

The Pianoman at Christmas (The Complete Edition) – Jamie Cullum – opening for that other pianoman, Billy Joel, the Englishman was a superb mix of now and then. Last year he released a 17 song take on this Christmas album and now he has added 13 more songs for a collection I prefer to Michael Buble’s except the new material could be better – B+

Les raretés Warner – Johnny Hallyday – one of my great gets was the late French rocker Hallyday at the Beacon in 2012 (here), and while I haven’t gone past a coupla greatest hits I do enjoy his deep feel ballads and his classic rockisms. This odds and sods is not the place to start when you can’t tell the difference between the hits and the rarities but it is certainly is A place to start – B

Pianola. PIANO & FRIENDS – Jools Holland – the English former Squeeze, current TV MC, with a strong collection of piano plus stompers – B

Holiday Swingin’! (A Kat Edmonson Christmas Vol. 1) – Kat Edmonson – The Texan purveyor of the great American songbook is made for an album like this (her Billie Holiday on pixie dust singing adds a delightful weirdness) and manages her best work since The Big Picture in 2014… her Irving Berlin cover is a must hear – B+

Destroyer (45th Anniversary Super Deluxe) – Kiss – The one with “Detroit Rock City” and not much else, given a box set phenom with the usual demos and live cuts – C

Intimidated – KAYTRANADA – The Texas instrumental are much better when they give lead vocals to H.E.R. as they do on one song on the three track EP – B

Music Is Our Friend (Live in Washington and Albany, 2021) – King Crimson – Really? 2021? Well, well… B+

Time Flies – Ladyhawke – a dance pop redux with nice electronic effects but a blandness at its heart – C

Another Side – Leo Nocentelli – if Leo had released this solo album we might have found him as a singer songwriter in the 1970s instead of lead guitarist for the Meters. While “Riverfront” points to what is, “Thinking Of The Day,” “I Want To Cry” and “Your Song” (yes, that one) is what he might have done… except for the original, the Elton John song is the best take you’ll hear – A-

Christmas (Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition) – Michael Bublé – I don’t HATE this 25 song reboot, Michael is a charming singer. But it is milquetoast, vanilla, and boring – C+

Christmas, With Love Always – Leona Lewis – from depression to exhaustion, the X Factor UK winner was always a break down away from cracking the States. Leona won’t be helped with this album but maybe she should be. All the new songs are winners, especially the opening track – B+

Knebworth 1996 (Live) – Oasis – circa Be Here Now – A-

Physical – Olivia Newton-John – Olivia’s best album was a sexy, saucy synth and BPM addicted, huge selling romp forty years ago. So why the extended version? Why not? It is a relentless joy and hopefully a reminder to Saweetie it is there to be sampled – A-

Live at Levitation – Primal Scream – sounds circa XTRMNTR – B+

Raise The Roof – Robert Plant, Alison Krauss – the follow up to 2007’s album, produced by T-Bone Burnett and not all that hot. There is certainly no “Please Read The Letter” and the entire Americana exercise is a crushing bore – C

Snoop Dogg Presents Algorithm – Snoop Dogg – either there is an error in the equation or Snoop wanted to release a weak rap album aimed for the charts with some real odd features and nothing that takes off – C-

The Bridge – Sting –  Sting? The lead singer of a band we once dubbed the worst of all time (here), so I have a vested interest in deposing him (here is the 2014 Paul Simon and Sting live review). It leaves me ambivalent to announce that his latest  is one of his best albums to date, lyrically clunky, and a whole lotta samey bass lines, but the songs connect time after time and “The Book Of Numbers” is a good song – B

Motorheart (Deluxe) – The Darkness – nearing their 20th year, The Darkness are best when they are glam rockers and lose you when they go prog, at their best it is like Robert Plant fronting Queen, and its worse they are sub-Lez Zep, and on a song here and there, the title track for one with its Middle Eastern weirdness, and opening track “Welcome Tae Glasgae” (“the women are gorgeous and the food is okay…”) they are both – B

Everything I Love Is Going to Die – The Wombat – if all you know is “Let’s Dance To Joy Division” and “Kill The Director,” here is a terrific four song EP that works as a gateway drug for the wittiest and most tuneful band from the UK… let’s hope they extend it to an album soon – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Motown With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (A Symphony Of Soul) – The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Unspeakable, one of the worst albums I have ever heard, they are clueless as to the sound of young America – F

Formula of Love: O+T=<3 – Twice – all girl disco pop band from South Korea with bubbly, yet with a strong back beat, disco songs – B

Achtung Baby (30th Anniversary Edition) – U2 – maybe not their best album, it is still easily my favorite, the extras are minimal (undoubtedly because you have to pony up for the Box Set), still the adds have some pretty ace remixes and really, how many versions of “Mysterious Ways” is enough? More than this… – A-

Bruised (Soundtrack From and Inspired by the Netflix Film) – Various Artists – the Halle Berry movie, about a mixed martial arts fighter making a comeback, is filled with mostly new songs by women rappers and neo-R&b performers. But here’s a first: the Saweetie song is better than the Cardi B and Young M.A. is better than both, but everything is very, very good. Including a handful of names that are new to me – B+

Quitter – Weakened Friends – an indie rock trio singing about quitting the music business with one great song after another, signed to Don Giovanni Records, Sonia Surino is a strong songwriter with a sense of a songs dynamic that works to the bands benefit time after time on a brief and fabulous half an hour… currently on repeat – A-

The Willie Nelson Family – Willie Nelson – Congrats to Willie, he brought together children and grandchildren, and they all came together for a stupendous drag on an album… wake me up when it’s over – C-

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