With exceptions, careers do peak. An exception would be The Beatles, who remained consistently great through Let It Be, and more typical would be Paul McCartney, who peaked with Band On The Run. Ed Sheeran peaked with Divide and hasn’t been quite the same since. His last album No.6 Collaborations Project was successful, in the UK it went double platinum, and that sure ain’t bad… except when you consider Divide went platinum TWELVE TIMES. So, yeah, it deserved to do less well, but he had peaked. Ed got married to a childhood sweetheart and dropped out of the music biz for an exceedingly well timed hiatus in 2019. Now he is back, and the first single “Bad Habits,” about partying all night and picking up strangers, is a pleasant mid-tempo disco, the sort of song you expect from Bruno Mars in more pop less r&b mode. Duly Noted: Sheeran’s first song without a featured add on in four years (Grade: C+).
Over at albums, Cali’s own Amala Dlamini (aka Doja Cat) has been circling Dua Lipa for a coupla years now though her extreme badassness may have held her back (she nearly got cancelled for using the n word, till people realized she was biracial), the social media star is an emblem of modern pop, she raps, she creates beats, she is comfortable with melodic pop and she is very comfortable with image mongering, her third album Planet Her is built for the twenty somethings who spend their life in nightclubs, and their kid sisters who spend all their time on Tik-Tok and it is good -even if we heard the best song back in April with that great “Physical” interloping (Grade: B), the English via the Philippines Beabadoobee has recorded a four song EP, Our Extended Play, with The 1975 and all the songs are great and “Last Day On Earth” is better than that (Grade: A-), Juicy J adds nine tracks to The Hustle Still Continues deluxe, listen for the Pooh Shiesty song (Grade: B-), the only band named after a British unemployment form, UB40 are back again with a collaborative album, Bigga Baggariddim, of really gorgeous lover’s rock plus reggae bands, trust me, this is a goodie and goes down well with red, red wine (Grade: A-), Miles Davis in 1991 on Merci Miles! Live at Vienne, performing songs of very (then) current vintage, and still managing to sound breathtaking, the “Amandla” is one of the best I’ve heard (Grade: A-), speaking of live The Löst Tapes Vol. 1 (Live in Madrid 1995) from Motorhead is, as Lemmy notes at the top, rock and roll, the sort of performance only The Ramones could top (Grade: A).
Back to singles, the upcoming Barbra Streisand collab album reaches its zenith as she joins Kermit The Frog on Paul williams (who, not to brag but… once called me a great writer) “Rainbow Connection” (Grade: A-), “Rodriguez For A Night” has lyrics by Donald Fagen though it is the music by David Crosby that really channels Steely Dan. Finally, Barry Holdship’s fourth single with his Brando’s Lair band, “Snowbird” is a wonderful country rock 60s style channelling of Glen Campbell meets Harry Nilsson at the same time, and Barry sings it exceedingly well on a total winner all ready on repeat here, though I wish Glen was alive to cover it (Grade: A)
Rainbow Connection – Barbra Streisand and Kermit the Frog – A-
Our Extended Play – Beabadoobee – A-
Rodriguez For A Night – David Crosby – B+
Planet Her -Doja Cat – B
Snowbird – Brando’s Lair – A
Bad Habits – Ed Sheeran – C+
The Hustle Still Continues Deluxe – Juicy J – B-
Merci Miles! Live at Vienne – Miles Davis – A-
The Löst Tapes Vol. 1 (Live in Madrid 1995) – A
Call Me If You Get Lost- Tyler, The Creator – A-
Bigga Baggariddim – UB40 – B+
distinct and wondrous without being obvious or obnoxious
except for the title track the songs are on vacation
simultaneously self-effacing and egomaniacs
essentially a disco remix of “Rocket Man” featuring one of the the UK’s biggest stars…
“I literally really need you to jump up and down”
Friday night might kill us but Thursday evening is a blast
it just isn’t the triumph she needed after six years
an impressive sonic ride.
a high-spirited Post Pandemic anthem