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Books
Monday, Nov. 8, 2010

Sean Wilentz’s revealing analysis of a vital songwriter

Sean Wilentz’s Bob Dylan in America (Doubleday) is a significant work that connects Dylan’s narrative shift from American oral tradition song to literary text. It is also a definitive social and political history regarding what is buried deep in Dylan’s songs. The research and writing is impeccable, and we at long last have a serious study of Dylan’s artistic...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 8, 2010

The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (Columbia)

The revolution has begun again in earnest. Going back even before the first Dylan album to recordings that are as noticeable for their profound invisibility as The Basement Tapes, we find hidden authenticity that defies all of the easily found “Facebook Music” that has endlessly befriended us because we need...
Books
Monday, Oct. 11, 2010

Music critic Greil Marcus not in top form

For all of its unforgivable flaws, Greil Marcus’ When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison (PublicAffairs) does have an innovative and evocative manner about it. The most significant success is its form. Twenty-three chapters, excluding an introduction, are divided into four parts...
Album Reviews
Monday, Oct. 11, 2010

Safe, Sound & Temporary (self-released)

Milwaukee’s At Latl consists of Kevin Christensen, Dan Mahony and Kent Watson. The band delivers each song in a delicate balance of addictive originality with no tiresome phrasing. Listeners are brought into every song rather like an overheard experience. Safe, Sound & Temporary is not a brief album, but it goes...
Books
Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

Music legend’s masterpiece continues to morph

The graphic novel based on Neil Young’s Greendale (published by Vertigo) is the illustrated version, replete with variant narrative, of the original. But what exactly is the “original” when it comes to this work? Is it the live concert series?
Books
Monday, June 28, 2010

Morgan, Wardle package ‘Classic Album Covers’ from 1955 to 1995

Pop culture often celebrates what is no longer available in the 21st century. Take albums. Recording a body of songs as a unified work of art seems like an idea that has gone and cannot be brought back. With the advent of...
Books
Monday, March 29, 2010

David Kirby’s biography without merit

After reading David Kirby’s Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll (Continuum), it’s clear that Little Richard is in need of a quality biography. The only other book, Charles White’s...
Album Reviews
Monday, March 15, 2010

Hellbound for the Highway

It’s refreshing to hear new, original music that isn’t self-absorbed and fraudulent like that of so many contemporary singer/songwriters crying into their imported beer. Hellbound for the Highway suffers as a result of weak lyrics—overused stuff—but excels in music that is tough, honest and technically proficient. One can ignore the words and not be burdened...
Books
Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

Hank Reineke sheds light on an elusive legend

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is a seminal and frequently overlooked character in the folk music revivals of Britain and America in the 1950s and ’60s. It’s not hard to discern why he has been overlooked, given that he is such an elusive and unreliable character...

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