I’ve haven’t tried to force my questionable musical taste upon you since Christmas Eve, so here we go- a few albums I’ve been listening to a lot lately, a brief blurb about each, and a tasty selection from each of them. Enjoy, or not.
The Big Blues by Albert King
Somehow Albert King just doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He could do the “big blues” as well as the much more famous (and lauded) B.B. King, he recorded one of he best blues records ever (Born Under A Bad Sign) with Booker T. and the @#%&*! MGs as his backing band, he influenced Hendrix and Clapton, and his early 1980s performance with Stevie Ray Vaughan (In Session…) is just…everything. Ever. Songs like this are as close to religion as I get. Oh, and his nickname was the Velvet Bulldozer- THE VELVET BULLDOZER!!
Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg by The Clash
When the Clash signed their first contract they inserted a clause preventing CBS from charging more than the standard price for each Clash album (rather than for each “record”). The Clash then stuck it to CBS by releasing London Calling and Sandinista, a double album and a triple(!) album respectively and forcing CBS to charge only the single “record” price for them. The plan had been the same for their next album (the one which became Combat Rock), but in-fighting in the band prolonged the process and CBS got wind of it and put its corporate foot down. With the band unable to provide an unified front, CBS got it way. So, Combat Rock was released (and is a FAR better album that most give it credit for) and Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg was not. Now, why did I tell you all of that? I told you because one of the big “knocks” against Combat Rock was that because it was nothing like the group’s previous efforts (and because it had two radio hits) it was a “sellout.” Except when you hear it as it was meant to be you realize it is very much in the vein of Sandinista and London Calling: another brilliant collage of punk, rockabilly, reggae, and jazz.
Morrissey: World Peace Is None of Your Business
Steven Patrick Morrissey is insufferable. And yet… I own everything he did with the Smiths and everything he has done since. Much of it is brilliant…and much of it is clearly phoned in. I think the reason I always “take a chance” on a new album from “Mozz” is because when he phones it in he’s still average, and when he’s brilliant he’s just…transcendent. The title track of this album is brilliant, I’m still deciding about the rest.
Dude Incredible by Shellac
I’ve been wearing this album out since it was released last fall and that’s a HUGE compliment given that it had been seven years(!) since Shellac’s last album- “Excellent Italian Greyhound”- was released and it would have been very easy to be underwhelmed after waiting so long for it. But no, it holds up. It feels like Albini & Co spent all of those years stripping away every non-essential sound and lyric, leaving an album hat is brutally efficient, which if you’re a Shellac fan, is exactly what you want. It also scares people when they hear it for the first time, which I like.
Undercover by Big Country
A while back I treated you to Big Country’s cover Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” but there’s so much more on this album of covers. Here’s the list of other artists they cover: Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, C.C.R., Neil Young, Blue Oyster Cult, David Bowie, Smokey Robinson, the Rolling Stones, and more! It’s definitely worth, ah, “finding it online.”
Gary Clark, Jr. Live by Gary Clark, Jr.
Here’s the thing: If you’re just 30(!) and you’ve already played with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and dozens of other legends and won just about every guitar award anyone can dream up you can’t keep playing the humble card. And you certainly can’t cover and crush their songs like he does on this B.B. King song. Also, don’t Google the name “Nicole Trunfio,” or you’ll hate him for more than just his musical talent.
No Sleep ’til Hammersmith by Motörhead
It’s a live double album by Motörhead- what else is there to say?
Lazaretto by Jack White
Jack White is not everyone’s cup of tea- I get that- but he had me when he covered Son House’s “Death Letter” with the White Stripes and I liked him even more when I watched him in “It Might Get Loud.” This is album is a great, big, rocking MESS and all the better for it. It must be played loudly. Also, if anyone has he violin player’s cell number go ahead and leave it in the comments section- I think she and I would be great together!