Music acquired over the last two months or so in no particular order:
U2/How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Of course it’s good. It’s just not stunning. It’s too much like went before, which is something we’re not used to from U2.
Todd Snider/Songs from the Daily Planet. Bought this on the strength of one song I heard on XM, “Trouble.” Turns out, that’s the one truly great song on the CD, though “My Generation (Part 2), “Easy Money” and “Alright Guy” are good. After that, it’s pretty slim, and Snider just isn’t a good enough singer to make mediocre material tolerable.
Waylon Jennings/Honkey Tonk Heroes. Bought this after stumbling across a CMT show about the Outlaw Movement. Until then, hadn’t realized Jennings had an album out of all Billy Joe Shaver songs. Great CD. Great songs all the way through. My favorite track is probably “Black Rose,” which features the chorus line “The devil made me do it the first time/The second time I done it on my own” and the verse of “When the devil made that woman/Lord she threw the pattern away/She was built for speed with the tools you need/to make a new fool every day.”
Wanted/The Outlaws. Bought at the same time and for the same reason as the CD above. Just one of the classic country CDs I had to own. A fine compilation of Waylon, Willie and Jessie that changed the history of country music.
Dwight Yoakam/Dwight’s Used Records. When I first ordered this, I thought it was just another collection of Dwight doing other people’s songs, like the outstanding Under the Covers, but what it is is mostly a compilation of songs Dwight recorded with other people or for other people. There’s stuff from tribute albums he’s done, a couple of first-time released tracks. The stand out here is Dwight’s version of “Loco Motion.” Imagine Elvis at one of his Nashville sessions cutting an old rock and roll song, but with a little more twang. That’s “Loco Motion.”
Johnny A./Get Inside. Long-time readers know what a fan I am of Johnny A. His latest CD does not disappoint me. I’m not sure I would recommend it as an introduction to JA, but for a fan like me it fully confirms my contention that he is the greatest guitar player on the planet right now. He combines speed, dexterity, subtle nuance and a clear understanding of melody like no guitarist I’ve heard since Les Paul. Sometime Tuesday Morning is still the CD to start with if you want to discover the greatest of JA, but if you love great guitar playing, you shouldn’t be without either of these CDs.
Lyle Lovett/My Baby Don’t Tolerate. It’s Lyle Lovett. A reviewer need not say much more. It’s got the gospel and the jazz and the country all mixed together as Lyle does so well. The CD breaks no new ground, but Lovett has always resided on such a higher plain, that something new isn’t really necessary.
The Skeletons/Nothing to Lose. I added this CD to my Amazon Wish List a year ago or even further back. I’m now baffled what inspired me to add it, but having got it, I can only say, thank God I only pay $3 for it (bought it the day I did cause I could get it so cheaply used over the Net). The Skeletons had nothing to lose. And they got nothing in return. Boring.
Hell Bent & Country Bound. I remember as a kid whenver the local AM radio station would have an LP giveaway, I’d get on the phone and dial over and over, usually getting busy signals. If I was lucky enough to get through, I was never lucky enough to be the 9th caller. A few weeks back, XM’s X-Country station said, “e-mail us for a chance to win a CD.” So I did. And I won. Cool, uh? Good CD, too. It’s that Americana/Alt-Country stuff X-Country plays. I haven’t fallen in love with it yet, but I’m enjoying it.
Calexico/Feast of Wire. This was loaned to me the way friends loan digital music these days. It’s now on my Amazon Wish List with intent to purchase. First time I heard it, it reminded me a little bit of the Moody Blues. Another person who heard it heard U2, which I hadn’t heard. What it is is Americana that’s a bit more sophisticated than your average honky tonk wannabe might produce. Slick without being dry. Lush without being obnoxious. Solid musicianship and dexterous songwriting. A good discovery.