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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 7-15-22 – 7-21-22 Reviewed

Hank Williams died in 1953, George Jones recorded his earliest songs in 1953, and so there is something of a passing of the torch between them. Jones is certainly the second name of country (that’s Jones and not Cash) with at least two groundbreaking periods in his career, the second in the early to late 1970s, and the one documented on You Gotta Be My Baby (Original Starday Records Recordings), 21 songs from his first record company, including touchstones for his entire career, “Color Of The Blues”, “Just One More” and “Singing The Blues” and 18 more, and this is before his first big hit. There is no second guessing any of it, if you don’t worship Jones you don’t worship pop or country for that matter (Grade: A+)

Still with albums (and, come to think of it greatests), Elvis 30 #1 Hits (Expanded Edition) has no reason for existing at all, the first take was already and incomparably smashing and adding ten odds and sods doesn’t do much, for the record Presley Estate, the last thing to be done with the King’s catalog is to arrange it by studio session (Grade: A), the thing about using a coupla dozen producers on a dance record is that even Max Martin can’t overwhelm the Lizzo vibe and an even and enjoyable outing with two hits already on her fifth album Special, and a couple more in the wings (Grade: B), Steve Lacey (formerly of The Internet) is a master guitarist and rhythm player but this is too weird and proggy for my tastes, we’ve seen lots of these type of soulmen flounder in the wake of Maxwell and Gemini Rights is alright but too cool (Grade: C+), Pearl Jam are a great band but not necessarily a great recording band, like Phish before them, they prove it on stage, so the expanded Tour Edition of 2020’s Gigaton is better because it includes the songs, a whole lotta hot stuff, live on stage (Grade: B).

I reviewed Sam Huber and Garrison Hawk’s political landmine of reggae dub “Justice For All” (here) (Grade: A-), “Easy Lover” has Ellie Goulding leading the likes of Julia Michaels, Big Sean and, wow Greg Kurstin to little effect (Grade: C), it’s not that “Pussy” is Latto’s first release since “Big Energy” dropped in 2020, it is that it is her first release since it hit big and it is very good with an excellent backing track (Grade: B), what is it about Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” that makes it so adaptable, and you can’t get much more protean that the Michael Buble and the BBC Orchestra covering it (Grade: B+), Rhett’s streamed solo performances were so good in 2020 that you really wanted a classic from him but the very writerly “Follow You Home” is overwritten (Grade: B-), following up the excellent “Skin Of My Teeth” with the excellent “Substance” will grab your attention on Demi Lovato’s pop-punk via dance beaut (Grade: A-)

SUBSTANCE – Demi Lovato

Easy Lover (feat. Big Sean) – Ellie Goulding – c

Elvis 30 #1 Hits (Expanded Edition) – Elvis Presley – A

You Gotta Be My Baby (Original Starday Records Recordings) – George Jones – A+

PUSSY – Latto – B

Special – Lizzo – A-

Drivers License (feat. BBC Concert Orchestra) – Live at the BBC – Michael Buble – B+

Gigaton (Tour Edition) – Pearl Jam – B

Follow You Home – Rhett Miller – B-

Justice for All – Sam Huber, Garrison Hawk – A-

Gemini Rights – Steve Lacey – C+

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