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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 3-3-23 – 3-9-23

I don’t doubt Elvis Costello’s sincerity when it comes to Burt Bacharach, what I doubt is his ability to match Burt. Painted By Memory -their album from the late 90s- included some painful and overwrought songs, the hellish “God Give Me Strength” for instance and while I would put both “Toledo” and “The Long Division” among Costello’s top 100 I would include absolutely nothing else from it. The 45 song super deluxe The Songs Of includes live takes, songs from the vault, the original remastered, etc (Grade: B).

Over to singles, I have had little opportunity to cover one of my faves, Ann-Margret, except for a “Viva Las Vegas” review I seldom mention her and so the news that she has a covers album arriving soon and that Pete Townshend joined her on a cover of the Everly Brothers “Bye Bye Love” is good news (Grade: B), I haven’t been convinced of King Princess since “The 1950s” (sic) but this new track with Aaron Dessner is as sweet and strong as soulful indie r&b gets (Grade: A-), “If Darkness Had a Son” is six minutes plus of Metallica blueprint (Grade: B), Nicki Minaj may have waited too long for the follow up to second act breakthrough “Super Freaky Girl” and while “Red Ruby Da Sleeze” might not be the follow up we wanted it is strong enough to maintain the momentum and Nicki’s rap is world class (Grade: B), Wiz Khalifa dropped his first mixtape on streaming services earlier this year, now he takes out the autotune and is joined by Snoop in the break up song (Grade: B).

Back at albums, I was ready to tear into the soundtrack to the new HBO series about a SoCal rock band in the 70s, Blake Mills is behind a lot of it which means it is gonna lose you for lengths, but Aurora, the fictional (though obviously not) Daisy Jones & The Six isn’t the worst thing in the world (Grade: B-), Brix Smith was always better than her position as Mark E’s wife in the band, The Fall had a coupla great years with her and this solo album plus a fine back up band of like minded women and “Valley Of The Dolls” is a fine selection of old school punk, Dierks Bentley never got as big as we thought he would when he opened for Brad Paisley at MSG, on Gravel & Gold he mixes country rock with Americana as he deals with the aging process (Grade: B+), and finally Frank Zappa with a terrific live album: “Presenting two previously unreleased concerts from Frank Zappa’s short-lived 1980’s band, the latest exciting live collection to be released from The Vault, Zappa 80: Mudd Club/Munich, offers fans an opportunity to hear two blistering shows recorded in two distinct settings: the intimate 240 capacity Mudd Club in New York City and the massive 12,000 seat German arena, Olympiahalle in Munich (Grade: B+)

Bye Bye Love – Ann-Margret, Pete Townshend,T.G. Sheppard – B

Valley Of The Dolls – Brix Smith – B+

The Songs Of Bacharach @ Costello – Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello – B

Aurora – Daisy Jones & The Six – B-

Gravel & Gold – Dierks Bentley – B+

Mudd Club/Munich ’80 (Live) – Frank Zappa – B+

The Bend – King Princess – A-

If Darkness Had a Son – Metallica – B

Red Ruby Da Sleeze – Nicki Minaj – B+

Don’t Text Don’t Call – Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg – B+

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