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D. Sean Brickell (gorgeous Virginia Beach, VA United States)
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N Awlinz Dis Dat Or D Udda
N Awlinz Dis Dat Or D Udda
Price: CDN$ 20.19
13 used & new from CDN$ 11.85

5.0 out of 5 stars N'aw-ice 'n' Pure, July 13 2004
Straight shot o' Weesi-anna's best musical soundscape here, and ol' Dr. John is just the professor to bring it all home. If you prefer your Bayou sounds sanitized and watered down for Top 40, stay away from this. It's too pure and likely gonna be a tough dose of the real thing.
On d'udda hand, this is a treasure chest. Each song is worthy of repeated listens, and each time something new and valuable is discovered. Picking the best of these 18 songs ain't possible, as each contributes to the overall perspective.
Spirituals, blues, standards, voodoo, soul. It's all here.
It's become way-too-commonplace today to puff up a CD with guest artists. But this has very serious cats sittin' in, and they don't simply show up for a payday. They came to play and pay homage to the distinct music found only in N'Awlinz.
I'm a sucker for anything Randy Newman does, but he has never sounded more inspired. Willie Nelson is today's Perry Como, but he, too, finds a new depth of performance. What can be said of B.B. King except you'd better be ready to play when he shows up; and they do!
Arrangements of lyrics and themes and scores are so evenly proportioned that songs you know like the palm of your foot sound fresh again. The way Mavis Staples and Dr. John retool "When The Saints Go Marching In" makes you wonder where you ever heard these lyrics before.
With The Dirty Dozen Brass Band backing, Michael Bolton could make passable music, so you can imagine what happens when blended with the real deal.
Forgive my musical ignorance. I'm not familiar with a lot of the other notable local musicians on this CD. But any of 'em could cut the famous studio boys in The City or L.A. or Nashville without breaking a sweat.
I'm here to testify. It's gonna be a long time until I've fully digested this cajun meal, and I love each bite.

Ashgrove
Ashgrove
Price: CDN$ 14.65
14 used & new from CDN$ 12.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Tell the Truth!, July 6 2004
This review is from: Ashgrove (Audio CD)
We can all agree on one thing about Dave Alvin: the boy tells the truth, in his playing and his lyrics. This is another amazing musical gem and my personal favortie since "Blackjack David," his last CD of all-new original material. Not that he's ever done anything less than 4-star quality, mind you.
I wrestle with the mystery of how folks like Springsteen get such (deserved) credit, whilst Alvin consistently releases equally impressive -- if not better!! -- CDs. Should the blame be his punchless record label, today's sorry state of radio, or managment that can't hook him up with a huge tour to reach the masses? The problem sure ain't the material and performance.
An interesting study is listening back-to-back to "Somewhere In Time" off this CD and recent Los Lobos release. The Los Lobos session ranks as my "Song of the Year" thus far in 2004. Nonetheless the more economical version contained here still drills deeply into the soul, exposing deep aches and loss we've all suffered through, minute-by-minute, only to find some hope to help us survive.
The title track is the honest howl of a genuine man. He has lost his youth and is now victim of his own drive and desires formulated at an impressionable age. It's a contemporary perspective worthy of comparison to Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience."
"Out Of Control" is just a brilliant character study, and Alvin may have read my childhood diary before writing "Nine Volt Heart."
"Black Sky" and "Black Haired Girl" are other superb standouts (after "Blackjack David" what other black song will we get?) that showcase Alvin's band this time.
The Guilty Men are a formidable backing ensemble, but session players on this were definitely open for business at the studio. Bob Glaub on bass is especially well situated in the mix, emphasing and punctuating the messages with an underlying and subtle urgency.
Whaddya want? It's summer. So do yourself a great big favor. Put "Ashgrove" on, pour a crisp drink, go outside under the moonlit sky and listen to a CD that'll revise the how you see life while it validates your personal truth and values.

To Tulsa And Back
To Tulsa And Back
Price: CDN$ 13.82
18 used & new from CDN$ 8.10

5.0 out of 5 stars It Don't Get No Better'n This Here, June 11 2004
This review is from: To Tulsa And Back (Audio CD)
If you know a more gifted tunesmith and guitarist than J.J. Cale, I'd sure like to hear about it. "To Tulsa and Back" validates my opinion that blues-based rock 'n' roll simply don't get no better'n this here.
Gritty-yet-sophisticated music underlies life's themes of the down-but-not-quite-out in society. The slightest possiblity for redemption keeps hope alive. Maybe we somehow can rise above America's supposedly non-existant caste system to a better life.
Musically, I hear stiffling hot "after-midnight" summer in some off-Beale Memphis joint. Sounds of the wide-open Wild West simultaneously project tranquility and desolation.
I hate to use a cliche, but there's no way to ignore the fact that this is the CD Clapton wishes he still had in him today.
A must-listen CD from one of our genuine originals and treasures.

Trip
Trip
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 70.95
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best CD of 2004, (as of 5.24), May 24 2004
This review is from: Trip (Audio CD)
Lemme start by stating I never listen to techno or club mixes. NEVER, ever! But recently I heard "The Trip" playing in the import section of a store. Whoa mama, this thang just blew my little-critical-highmindedness outta orbit. Not only did I immediately fall under Mr. Middleton's infectious spell -- yes dear folks -- I bought the CD. Then listened again and again and again and again. Still am.
For a more qualified opinion, I played The Trip for my 11-year-old son, who promptly proclaimed his Dad's finally figured out what his friends listen to. We compared notes: my son expounding on TM's brilliant mixing, and me on the original songs he uses as a musical platform.
Of the discs, I prefer "Party" to "Chill." This week. Other times, my opinion flops.
If there's ever gonna be a classic in this genre, I'm placing bets this'll be it. It's The White Album of its format.
Indispensible!!!!!

The Ride
The Ride
Price: CDN$ 18.86
11 used & new from CDN$ 8.98

5.0 out of 5 stars What Was I Thinking?, May 5 2004
This review is from: The Ride (Audio CD)
For almost 15 years I've truly believed Los Lobos is the greatest Mexican rock band in history. What was I thinking? I now realize they're one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands ever, nationality notwithstanding.
How do I know? I took The Ride. Not too many bands can successfully retool an earlier song. Los Lobos, as always, presents honesty in the freshest way imaginable. The duets are brilliant, showcasing the social and economic issues of the SoCal Mexican community as genuinely universal themes.
Elvis Costello's vocals on "Matter of Time" will tear your heart out. Tom Waits's "Kitate" will keep me engaged for a long time. Dave Alvin's bluesy licks on "Somewhere in Time" cut to the core of your soul. Speaking of soul, add legends Mavis Staples and Bobby Womack to the mix, and this is one sizzling musical fajita.
It's only May, but I bet this will be in my Top 10 of the Year. Anyone wanna bet on a Grammy nomination, too?

Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess
Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess
by Walter Yetnikoff
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, Great Story, Great Fun, March 5 2004
I'll admit it. Kiss and tell books are just too juicy to pass on, and a reader can drown in all the name-dropping here.
Walter Yetnikoff's first-person account of the development of CBS Records, and the zenith of the music biz are simply spellbinding. It's an easy and terrific read, a fascinating story, and great fun.
WY takes no prisioners. He writes about Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen with an irreverence equal to what he tells of his own shortcomings.
His contemporaries who shaped the music business are Clive Davis, David Geffin, Tommy Mottola and Ahmet Ertegun. None hides from WY's light of truth. He isn't mean-spirited, just brutally honest.
Was excess in the rock 'n' roll industry of the 70's and early 80's a myth or fact? You decide:
Drink? By the barrel.
Drugs? Enough to float Columbia's economy.
Sex? Hugh Hefner never had it so good.
Money? Bill Gates and Ted Turner, for all they have, are duds when it comes to enjoying a lifestyle beyond decadence.
WY knew he was living a fantasy and didn't deny himself any of the many and mind-boggling opportunities presented.
Yeah, admit it. Who wouldn't want to live the life WY appears to have had during the good ol' days at CBS Records?

WY was fortunate to have been there before Sony took over or the industry started being run by accountants who wouldn't know a hit record or fun if it crawled into bed with them.
I can't really decide if it's accurate to credit WY for CBS Records' success. Perhaps he was just the right-type crazy when things went straight to the top. Either way, there's no disputing the company and entire music industry did reach its pinnacle on his watch, though.
C'mon back Walter. The sorry excuse that's today's record business needs a straight double-shot of your brand of insanity. Rock is about rebellion and edge and attitude. What we now have is Justin, Brittany and Janet and yet nobody at the labels can understand why the industry is sucking.
I'd love to see what the publisher and lawyers wouldn't let WY put in his book. Somehow, as wild he's Howling At The Moon, I bet this is the sanitized version of what he coulda given us.

Soul on Bikes
Soul on Bikes
by Tobie Levingston
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 35.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Faster Than A Chopped Harley!, Jan. 22 2004
This review is from: Soul on Bikes (Hardcover)
Soul On Bikes is a terrific story and even better read. Tobie Gene provides an interesting perspective on the Old South and the rise of Blacks in America. Along the way beatnicks, hippies, urban revolutionaries, Hells Angels, and other counterculture segments of society are respectfully given proper narriative.
Most of all, the real reason to read this book is fun. Words fly off the pages faster than a chopped Harley. Every page reveals yet more interesting details about bike riders and their clubs. As a society open only to Blacks and Harley riders, the East Bay Dragons M.C. has maintained its status as one of our nation's oldest, most formidable organizations.
Here's the real test: I haven't riden in more than 30 years since the last time I put a bike down in traffic and thought it was the end. I'm white and from the east coast. There aren't too many similarities on the surface between the Dragons and me.
Nonetheless, as the book unfolds I can wholly identify with the spirit of the Dragons without having to stretch my imagination.
That's what I call an engaging book.

Broken Music
Broken Music
by Sting
Edition: Hardcover
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars How Can Sting Do This?, Nov. 21 2003
This review is from: Broken Music (Hardcover)
Sting's music, for my taste, has become rather formulated and predictable, albeit very good. I like to call him the Neil Diamond of today's generation.
So how in the world did he write this amazing book?
Technically, it's a steady read that keeps you engaged from page one to the last word. The stories cohere and build an intimate profile of one of the world's foremost performers. It's the ultimate backstage access.
To his credit, Sting speaks with equal honesty about his triumphs and falls, which cover a wide scope of emotional territory. He is proud of his education and artistry but just as open about his professional failures. His failures as a son are balanced with his ongoing internal search for truth and breakthrough. He reveals himself as a typical father who examines his wants against limitations.
Most of all, Sting is exceedingly kind to all his musical mates, performers and management. If you're looking for a punative kiss and tell about the breakdown of The Police, you won't find it here. He openly credits the momumental contributions of Steward Copeland and Andy Summers, in addition to those who assisted his earliest attempts to become a professional musician.
I only have two drawbacks.
1. The books opens in Brazil during a religious experimentation with drugs. I could never tell if the entire book is endorsing drugs for "medicinal" purposes.
2. The last Sting concert I attended was superb. But he quit playing 14 minutes before the amphitheater's curfew, leaving a sold-out audience wondering why he didn't use that time to give us a few more favorite songs. Same here. Sting comes up before the finish line, leaving us wondering what he could have offered with a touch more effort and a better contract with his loyal fans.
Read the book!

Face To Face
Face To Face
Price: CDN$ 15.67
8 used & new from CDN$ 12.64

4.0 out of 5 stars Risen From The Grave, Oct. 31 2003
This review is from: Face To Face (Audio CD)
Mr. Hooker certainly isn't the only artist to release "new" music after his death. But his new CD sure-enough is better than almost anyone else who has. Rather than a plodding, macabre effort to cash in one more time (you know the ones I'm talking about), this CD is as vibrant as, well, life!
Following Mr. Hooker's recent success formula once again, a stellar cast contributes. And oh, mama, what a lineup: Van Morrison, Elvin Bishop, Jack Cassidy, Johnny Winter, Warren Hayes, Dickie Betts and George Thoroughgood. With these backing musicians, even I could sound passable. But behind Mr. Lucky you can imagine the great results. Serious performers only, if you please.
My personal favorite track is "Dimples" featuring a duet with Van The Man and Elvin Bishop on second lead guitar. But that choice might just change on repeated listens. There ain't a dog amongst the 15 tunes here, and how often can you say that about a CD anymore, even on so-called "Greatest Hits" packages?

Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel
Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel
by Neal Pollack
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Roll Over Lester Bangs And Tell Hunter S. Thompson The News!, Oct. 27 2003
Prior to this amazing book, Hunter S. Thompson was the undisputed monarch of Gonzo journalism. And Lester Bangs was his counterpart in music criticism.
Their storytelling was channeled through massive quantities of drugs and sex and rock 'n' roll and drugs and drugs (they liked drugs) weaving wild tales of life and adventure. Yep, 'ol HST and Les, I sure-enough hear Neil Pollack knockin' at the door.
To describe this book in a word: outlandish! A brilliant voice tells the (you really want to believe) story-behind-the-story. Even though it's all a farce, I couldn't help loving every word. Every punctuation mark, for that matter. And I don't even like the guy, much less completely agree with his point of view.
Somehow, virtually every major rock artist and event get chronicled with Pollack dead-center on the action. Elvis gave him his non-Jewish name at his bar mitzva. He and Dylan hung tight in the early days. Along the way Pollack also influences The Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Lou Reed, Bowie and Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, Springsteen, and Kurt Cobain -- and a the prime component at Monteray Pop, Woodstock, and the Fillmore -- amongst lots of others.
Be forewarned. Proceed very carefully here. You might make a mistake and assume this is a casual read because the story simply flys along at the speed of -- well pure crystal meth, I suppose. Nuh-uh! No sir-re-bob-a-roo! This here book's the making of a monumnental new member of Gonzo journalism at its damnable best.
Roll over Lester Bangs and tell Hunter S. Thompson the news.

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