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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 7-16-21 – 7-22-21 Reviewed

Earlier today, I reviewed Elvis Costello and the Attractions and Juanes “Pump It Up” with the old backing track but Juanes vocals replacing Elvis’ (here) (Grade:A), now here is his old china Nick Lowe with an outtake from one of his masterpieces, the 20 year old The Convincer, “Different Kind Of Blue,” which first saw the light of day as a promotional release for 2007’s At My Age, though this is the low key and beautiful Convincer outtake first commercial release, and it is so good it immediately joins “Poor Side Of Town”  and “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide” as the highlight of an album that is one long highlight  (Grade: A).

In the albums, another “A”, Get On Board The Soul Train Volume One: Philadelphia International box set is the first eight  studio albums released by the label from 1971-1973, they are Billy Paul: Going East, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes: I Miss You, The O’Jays – Back Stabbers, Billy Paul: 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, Dick Jensen: Dick Jensen, The Intruders: Save the Children, MFSB: MFSB and Billy Paul: Ebony Woman and puts Billy Paul back in perspective and MFSB to remind us (Grade: A), Pop Smoke was shot to death before he knew he was alive and New York drill (and rap as a genre) lost a major new star (New York drill still hasn’t recovered from his passing 18 months ago),  sure it’s a cut and paste job (and what’s with Kanye’s lousy verse?), it does function as an album but undoubtedly  not the album he’d have released if he’d lived through it. Can you hear another “Dior” here? Really, at this point in  time executive producer Fitty should not be glorifying “Manslaughter” (Grade: B), Tones and I is simultaneously a hyper-pop variant singer songwriter and a one hit wonder, her debut album, Welcome To The Madhouse, is addictive and intelligent pure pop  (Grade: B), Blondie have been releasing the live concert song by song till you reach six on Vivir en la Habana (Live from Havana, 2019) and there will be a short film that goes along with it, it isn’t bad at all but with songs like a nine minute “Rapture” and added Spanish flava in your ear everywhere, it was always gonna bea goodie (Grade: B), speaking of live albums -Tedeschi Trucks Band and Trey Anastasio’s 2019 live on stage recording of the entire Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’), it isn’t bad and if anyone is gonna perform songs made famous by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman please let it be Derek Trucks, but even so while on stage it must be considered a major pleasure, on record it is highly irrelevant (Grade: B), since we already have the 28 song Eric Clapton deluxe, quite why we need the Anniversary Deluxe Edition -essentially adding Clapton remixes, I have no idea, but with Clapton getting himself cancelled I am gonna support it anyway, maybe just as an excuse to listen to “Slunky” again (Grade: B).

A busy day at the singles ranch, I wish Azealia Banks would knock off the EDM beats on her raps, on “Fuck Him All Night” she finally reaches the point of diminishing returns (Grade: B), Billy Bragg can write a ballad, remember “The Saturday Boy” from 1984, but he can’t write a ballad now and “I Will Be Your Shield” is just awful and a bummer (Grade: C-), “KESI” is already one of the best songs of the year and Camilo’s add of Shawn Mendes is inspired Latin pop and a terrific version with Shawn in English (Grade: A) . Finally, EDM popster Mabel got my attention with the addictive earworm “Let Them All Know” and the follow up is another pop disco, heavy on the beats and don’t skimp on the melody “Take It Home” (Grade: B+)

Fuck Him All Night – Azealia Banks – B

I Will Be Your Shield – Billy Bragg – C-

Vivir en la Habana (Live from Havana, 2019) – Blondie – B

KESI – Remix – Camilo, Shawn Mendes – A

Pump It Up – Elvis Costello And The Attractions, Juanes – A

Eric Clapton (Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – Eric Clapton – B+

Take It Home –  Mabel – A

Different Kind Of Blue – Nick Lowe – A

Faith – Pop Smoke – B

Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’) – Tedeschi Trucks Band,Trey Anastasio – B

Welcome To The Madhouse – Tones And I – B

Get On Board The Soul Train Volume One: Philadelphia International box set – Various Artists – A

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