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Review Roundup!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on April 29, 2010 by 30daysout

Lots of new records out now … and so little time to listen.  Even less time to review, so here are some capsule critiques of albums by a few of our favorite savvy veterans.

Merle Haggard has been making music for more than 50 years and the simple declarative title of I Am What I Am means that listeners will get what Merle does best.  And that’s deliver a bunch of hand-crafted tunes that reflect on a long life, lost love, a lost life, or long love.  In fine voice at age 73, Haggard doesn’t need the gimmick of big-name guest stars (his only duet is on “Live and Love Always,” with his wife Theresa) or cover versions.

MP3: “Live And Love Always” by Merle Haggard

One of the oldest singers goin’ today is also one of the busiest – Willie Nelson has Country Music, which should be the first of three or four albums he releases this year, if the past few years are any indication.  Willie enlists Oscar-winning musician T-Bone Burnett as a producer and T-Bone’s house musicians surround Nelson’s idiosyncratic vocals with a swirl of music that’s mysterious when it needs to be, and playful when it wants to be.  It may seem like a no-brainer to turn Willie loose on a handful of country standards, and even if this album seems a little flimsy it’s also a fine experience.

MP3: “Gotta Walk Alone” by Willie Nelson

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Review: Classic Rockers, the Second Team

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on April 23, 2008 by 30daysout







When they don’t want to die, where do once vital rock stars go to burn out or fade away?  Or rust – whatever. Of course they burn out in plain sight.  Fading away is a lot uglier. 

Most do it by just hanging in there, plugging away with album after album until nobody gives a damn any more.  Or they do it by making a “comeback.”  Listening to their recorded output is often more painful than looking at a photograph of these aging forgotten rockers.

Now of course there are exceptions: John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen and even Levon Helm put out excellent albums last year, all with their trademark sound.  And Robert Plant may have been the most successful by redefining himself as a roots-rocker alongside Alison Krauss.

We’re really talking about mainly journeyman rockers who at one point made it big, either as part of a band or as a solo act.  After 20, 30 or in some cases 40 years, the spotlight gets smaller and smaller and there’s room for only a few elder statesman superstars.

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