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Two Great albums; Country Music IV: From rock to soft

One day after writing the obituary of the album, I bought the album of the year and first runner up. I have only spinned Green Day’s “21st Century Breakdown” once but I can’t imagine hearing a better album this year and, mind, i didn’t like “American idiot” all that much. The lyrics to “Breakdown” are already passed it (one of the reason Dylan got into personal politics was how dated the lyric became with public politics) and it’s a real problem on “Breakdown” but despite the dated and stupid anti-Bushisms the album sounds so great. If I hear a better song than “The Static Age” this year I’ll be a happy, happy (I) man!!
This is pop-punk as proselytized by the Buzzcocks but for the first time Green day have really given Pete Shelley a run for his money.
I just bought a tix to catch em at MSG on July 17th and with that much more time to think about I hope to have a better review than it sounds good.
I also bought a tix to see Art Brut at Mercury Lounge on the strength of their earlier album “Bang Bang Rock & Roll” and great song “Formed A Band” and the new album “Vs Satan” is damn close to professional (actually Frank Black produced it so manybe I just mean catchier) but Eddie Argos still speaks rather than sings and the band still has a lo fi ethos.
Having said all that “Vs Satan” is the real deal: a crash course for the ravers tripping back to Eng Lit 101 and a must buy and if they are being ironic I’m missing it entirely.
When last heard from Country Music was holding the flag of conservatism over the head of acid rock and fighting them to a draw until the Byrds got together with the good upper middle class Gram Parsons what the Byrds did for Folk music a coupla years earlier -they made it chewe and tasty for the youth of America. Except they didn’t. “Sweetheart Of the Rodeo” -an album in the running for greatest ever, was a straight faced take on country music with Parson and MaGuinn sharing vocals (except Parsons vocals were taken off the finished album for contractual reasons).
It starts with a great Dylan song “You Ain’t going Nowhere” and continues with the awesome “The Christian Life” (worth a quote: “I won’t lose a friend by heeding God’s call for what is a friend who would want you to fall”) and the country classic “You’re Still On My Mind”.
It didn’t sell very well and Gram’s two (greatest albums ever) solo albums “GP” and “Return Of the Grievous Angel” and the Flying burritos brothers “The Gilded Palace Of Sin” is just about the template for everything that came after.
And what happened next was Gram died (at a ridiculous and pathetically young age) and the Eagles lived. Yes, country lived on in So Cal. Listen, I like Don Henley as much as the next guy and more than most but Henley couldn’t write country as well as Parsons with a blueprint and the Eagles, one of the most successful bands of all times, are simply a good, completely irrelevant band.
Most everything So Cal touched it dumbed down (though the exceptions, hi Zevon, were big). I’m not complaining that So cal Country was bad, I’m complaining it lacked a depth of feeling both Country rock and country legends had in spades; a technically brilliant vocalist like, say, Linda Ronstadt, would prove ten years later (once she’d stopped selling) she was a true great but her country was only beautiful and callow.
And things would get worse: in Part V -here come the 80s: run, run, run for your life….

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