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Album Reviews
Friday, April 19, 2013

Live at Scullers (Pazz Productions)

 This album is a great reminder of why I still go to concerts. I recently enjoyed a performance by alto saxophonist Grace Kelly, whose hard bop jazz sensibilities showed impressive maturity. Kelly’s new concert release in no way
Album Reviews
Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011

A Treasure: Neil Young Archive Series #9 (Reprise Records)

It's hard to separate the music from the events surrounding Neil Young's career in the mid-1980s. I mean, how many artists get sued by their own record company for not sounding enough like themselves? Few, but this what Geffen Records did to Neil after he submitted a string of albums which were not in line with label expectations...
Album Reviews
Monday, Feb. 7, 2011

Broken Dreams Club (Fantasy Trashcan/Turnstile Records)

Wow! A band with horns. And a steel guitar. And a Mellotron! And plenty of mood. And an ethereal voice appropriately hidden in the mix. And interesting songs. And guitars that sound like they are on loan from Chris Isaak’s Silvertone at their most atmospheric. This all adds up to a distinctive and memorable...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010

Hank Williams Revealed: The Unreleased Recordings (Time Life)

As a performer and composer of country songs, Hank Williams had absolute, rock-solid consistency. Williams’ writing credentials have never been in question, and with Hank Williams Revealed—the second three-CD set of songs intended for one-time radio broadcast—Williams’ abilities as a performer...
Album Reviews
Monday, Jan. 19, 2009

The Unreleased Recordings (Time/Life)

When Hank Williams died at the age of 29 he had released 61 songs. In spite of this relatively small amount of material, Williams found himself at the apex of country music. Since 1953, Williams' estate has milked revenue from the deceased star's recordings in ways that make the Jimi Hendrix vultures look like amateurs, and endless...
Friday, Nov. 21, 2008

(Penguin), by Janis Ian

Janis Ian's autobiography, Society's Child, is an interesting read about mid-20th-century New York culture, including McCarthy-style oppression and overt racism, but she really should hire a fact-checker. Although the book serves as a wide-eyed account of show business in the 1960s and '70s, it's difficult to fully believe Ian's recollections because she makes numerous errors about the music scene. Ian states that Sam the Sham headlined Shea Stadium and The Blues Project morphed into the Chicago Transit Authority. Neither is correct. Ian had two...
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

(Little, Brown) by Joe Nick Patoski

Joe Nick Patoski draws a portrait of Willie Nelson based on 35 years of covering his subject. He does an especially good job with Nelson’s early years, describing the difficulty of breaking into the music scene. Unfortunately, as the book continues, it often reads as if the journalist has stitched together his various
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

(Random House), by Truman Capote

Similar to viewing scarce footage of John Coltrane or hearing an unknown concert recording by Woody Guthrie, this new collection of Truman Capote’s previously uncollected essays encourages a re-evaluation of his canon. Because each of these essays had been published separately during the author’s life, this compilation doesn’t possess the same scholarly fascination as 2005’s release of Summer Crossing, Capote’s lost first novel. Still, Portraits and Observations should spark renewed and deserved interest in this unique American voice.

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