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|American IV: The Man Comes Around
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Landmark 2002 album ... the final one released during his lifetime! Covers of classics by Nine Inch Nails ; Hank Williams ; Depeche Mode ; Simon & Garfunkel ; The Beatles ; Sting and others.
On first thought, the idea of the Man in Black recording such covers as "Bridge over Troubled Water," "Danny Boy," and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" might seem odd, even for an artist who's been able to put his personal stamp on just about everything. But American IV: The Man Comes Around, which also draws on Cash's original songs as well as those by Nine Inch Nails ("Hurt"), Sting ("I Hung My Head"), and Depeche Mode ("Personal Jesus"), may be one of the most autobiographical albums of the 70-year-old singer-songwriter's career. Nearly every tune seems chosen to afford the ailing giant of popular music a chance to reflect on his life, and look ahead to what's around the corner. From the opening track--Cash's own "The Man Comes Around," filled with frightening images of Armageddon--the album, produced by Rick Rubin, advances a quiet power and pathos, built around spare arrangements and unflinching honesty in performance and subject. In 15 songs, Cash moves through dark, haunted meditations on death and destruction, poignant farewells, testaments to everlasting love, and hopeful salutes to redemption. He sounds as if he means every word, his baritone-bass, frequently frayed and ravaged, taking on a weary beauty. By the time he gets to the Beatles' "In My Life," you'll very nearly cry. Go ahead. He sounds as if he's about to, too. Unforgettable. --Alanna Nash
|Wanted! The Outlaws (1976-1996 20th Anniversary)
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Reissue of the mid-'70s outlaw country classic featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser, with original artwork, liner notes (from Chet Flippo) and nine "lost" tracks!
Less successful when it's sentimental (Waylon Jennings' "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys") than when it's wry (Willie Nelson's myth-puncturing "Me and Paul"), this cash-in compilation of previously released cuts was just in time to grab the first platinum record ever awarded a country album. It's not bad, but both Jennings' contemporaneous Dreaming My Dreams and Nelson's Red Headed Stranger are more nuanced tastes of the good-bad-but-not-evil-ol'-boy lifestyle. (Not to mention much of Tompall Glaser's own Outlaw compilation.) This 1996 CD reissue adds nine more tracks from the era as well as a new Jennings-and-Nelson version of Steve Earle's "Nowhere Road." --Rickey Wright
|Gordon Lightfoot - Complete Greatest Hits
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The most comprehensive single-CD collection by this treasured troubadour. These 1965-1987 United Artists, Reprise and Warner Bros. tracks include his Top 10 hits Sundown; If You Could Read My Mind; The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald; Carefree Highway , and 14 more!
Though he rose from the ranks of journeyman '60s folksinger to become a potent and consistent '70s hit maker, Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot's stock in trade was as much hard-eyed, dispassionate observation as romance or poetic whimsy. Perhaps that's why his songs have been covered by everyone from Elvis (this set's "Early Morning Rain") to Dylan. If there's such a thing as an alpha-male folkie, Lightfoot certainly fits the bill. Spanning the tongue-in-cheek chauvinism of 1965's "For Lovin' Me" and the cheatin' ways of "Sundown" to more introspective fare like "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Beautiful," this 20-track collection presents a concise primer on Lightfoot's career and craft. After his career peaked with one of the most unlikely top five hits ever, the gloom-laden 1976 narrative "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," Lightfoot's production tailed off sharply, though this anthology's "Stay Loose" ('86) and "Restless" ('93) are testament to his enduring skills as a songwriter and performer. --Jerry McCulley
- Gordon Lightfoot - Complete Greatest Hits by Rhino
|Either / Or
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Heart sewn firmly to his sleeve, Elliott continues his tuneful dissection of life & what makes it difficult.
- Folk/Neofolk, Indie , Rock, Singer/songwriter
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Michael,George ~ Patience
It must be hard being a George Michael fan. Patience is only his fourth studio effort in the 18 years since Wham! split, so its release must be some cause for celebration. There always seems to have been something preventing him from releasing a new album--from arrests for lewd behavior, protracted battles with record companies, or prolonged periods of grieving for departed family and friends. Thankfully, Patience is pretty good.
Flitting between fraught ballads and up-tempo adult pop (the misguided sample-laden single "Freeek!" being the unnecessary exception), George here returns to the structure and mood of 1990s Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1. Patience is at its most delicate and moving with its title track, the intense, tabloid-attacking "Through" and the painful family memories of "My Mother Had a Brother." To balance this, hearts will be raised by "Amazing," with its echoes of the Bee Gees, "Round Here," in which George remembers his early days scampering around Bushey with Andrew Ridgley, and "Cars and Trains," which celebrates the kind of lifestyle that so riled the LAPD back in 1998. That's the thing about George Michael these days. Love him or loathe him, he is unapologetically himself. And fans should be very grateful for that. --Dominic Wills
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The musical collaboration of the decade, Raising Sand is the sound of two iconic figures stepping out of their respective comfort zones and letting their instincts lead them across a brave new sonic landscape. Despite hailing from distinctly different backgrounds, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant share a maverick spirit and willingness to extend the boundaries of their respective genres. This spirit, expertly honed by producer T Bone Burnett, has resulted in an album pitched three steps beyond some cosmic collision of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the untapped potential of the folk-rock revolution.
Supported by the unparalleled musicianship of Marc Ribot, Dennis Crouch, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, Norman Blake, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren, and Riley Baugus, Plant and Krauss -- as both solo and harmony vocalists -- tackle an intriguing selection of songs from such tunesmiths as Tom Waits, Gene Clark, Sam Phillips, Townes Van Zandt, The Everly Broth! ers, and Mel Tillis. Raising Sand finds Robert Plant and Alison Krauss exploring popular music's elemental roots while still sounding effortlessly, breath-takingly contemporary.
The song "Killing the Blues" is featured in the new JC Penney American Living Campaign.
Perhaps only the fantasy duo of King Kong and Bambi could be a more bizarre pairing than Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet on Raising Sand, their haunting and brilliant collaboration, the Led Zeppelin screamer and Nashville's most hypnotic song whisperer seem made for each other. This, however, is not the howling Plant of "Whole Lotta Love," but a far more precise and softer singer than even the one who emerged with Dreamland (2002). No matter that Plant seems so subdued as to be on downers, for that's one of the keys to this most improbable meeting of musical galaxies--almost all of it seems slowed down, out of time, otherworldly, and at times downright David Lynch-ian, the product of an altered consciousness. Yet probably the main reason it all works so well is the choice of producer T Bone Burnette, the third star of the album, who culled mostly lesser-known material from some of the great writers of blues, country, folk, gospel, and R&B, including Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt, Milt Campbell, the Everly Brothers, Sam Phillips, and A.D. and Rosa Lee Watson. At times, Burnette's spare and deliberate soundscape--incisively crafted by guitarists Marc Ribot and Norman Blake, bassist Dennis Crouch, drummer Jay Bellerose, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Seeger, among others--is nearly as dreamy and subterranean as Daniel Lanois's work with Emmylou Harris (Wrecking Ball). Occasionally, Burnette opts for a fairly straightforward production while still reworking the original song (Plant's own "Please Read the Letter," Mel Tillis's "Stick with Me, Baby"). But much of the new flesh on these old bones is oddly unsettling, if not nightmarish. On the opening track of "Rich Woman," the soft-as-clouds vocals strike an optimistic mood, while the instrumental backing--loose snare, ominous bass line, and insinuating electric guitar lines--create a spooky, sinister undertow. Plant and Krauss trade out the solo and harmony vocals, and while they both venture into new waters here (Krauss as a mainstream blues mama, Plant as a gospel singer and honkytonker), she steals the show in Sam Phillips' new "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," where a dramatic violin and tremulous banjo strike a foreboding gypsy tone. When Krauss begins this strange, seductive song in a voice so ethereal that angels will take note, you may stop breathing. That, among other reasons, makes Raising Sand an album to die for. --Alanna Nash
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|Elton John: Madman Across the Water
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With the Hit title track, plus Levon; Tiny Dancer , and more. From 1971.
Named for a cut that originally appeared on his Tumbleweed Connection album, Madman Across the Water yielded some of Elton John's earliest AOR staples. "Tiny Dancer," like the previous "Your Song," was introduced and carried by John's masterful piano composition. The song's sense of longing also employed the falsetto chorus that would become as much of a trademark as his costumes. "Levon," another entry into the John/Taupin "ballad of" category, is one of their finest pieces. The orchestration gives the song not only its sense of foreboding, but also its release of tension as the song ends. "Rotten Peaches" became a favorite, as did "Holiday Inn." There's also a different interpretation of the title track than appeared on Tumbleweed Connection. --Steve Gdula
|Tomorrow Is My Turn
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Rhiannon Giddens, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, makes her solo recording debut with Tomorrow Is My Turn, due out February 10, 2015, on Nonesuch Records. (The vinyl will follow on March 3.) The album was produced by T Bone Burnett.
Burnett first worked with Giddens when she performed last fall at a concert he curated at New York City s Town Hall that was later broadcast on Showtime: Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis. Backstage, Burnett was immediately moved to ask if he could produce a record with her. It was clear the first time I heard her at rehearsal that Rhiannon is next in a long line of singers that include Marian Anderson, Odetta, Mahalia Jackson, Rosetta Tharpe, Burnett says. We need that person in our culture.
For her first solo disc, Giddens chose a broad range of songs from genres as diverse as gospel, jazz, blues, and country. In addition to the traditional Black Is the Color, tracks include Hank Cochran s She s Got You, made famous by Patsy Cline; Dolly Parton s Don't Let It Trouble Your Mind ; O Love Is Teasin , popularized by the Kentucky-reared mother of folk Jean Ritchie; and Elizabeth Cotton s Shake Sugaree.
I had already started putting together a list of songs that didn t really fit into the Chocolate Drops world, Giddens explains. At the top was Tomorrow Is My Turn [immortalized by Nina Simone]. Seeing Nina do it on YouTube was revelatory. I knew she d gone through a lot of hard times, as so many people did in that time period. Watching her sing this song, with the words tomorrow is my turn, I began to think about the struggle of her and women like her. The significance of this song led Giddens to make it the title of the album as well. Other songs started getting on my list and they were all by women or interpreted by women, she says.
Tomorrow Is My Turn was recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville, with a multi-generational group of players whom Burnett assembled. Among them are fiddle player Gabe Witcher and double bassist Paul Kowert of label-mates Punch Brothers; percussionist Jack Ashford of Motown s renowned Funk Brothers; drummer Jay Bellerose; guitarist Colin Linden; legendary backup singer Tata Vega; veteran Nashville session bassist Dennis Crouch; and Giddens Drops touring band-mates, multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins and beat-boxer Adam Matta.
Tomorrow Is My Turn follows Giddens work with Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James, and Marcus Mumford on Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes, an album also produced by Burnett that was released in November 2014. Her contribution was hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as the showstopper...evoking antebellum blues with a magnificent voice that interrogates the myths stirred up at Big Pink. The New York Times agreed, saying On lead vocals she s the album s revelation, singing melodies that hark back to Celtic modes with a decisive presence and a haunting grace.
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Audio CD (March 30, 2004)
Original Release Date: March 30, 2004
Number of Discs: 3
Label: Bmg Special Product
Also Available in: Audio CD
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Amazon.com Sales Rank: #24,761 in Music (See Bestsellers in Music)
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#42 in Music > Pop > Oldies > Bubblegum
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Includes Urge for Going; Chelsea Morning; Big Yellow Taxi; Woodstock; The Circle Game; Free Man in Paris; Help Me; Both Sides Now; You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio; Carey; California; Raised on Robbery; River; Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody; Come in from the Cold one incredible tune after another!
She's only had four bona fide Top-40 American hits, and one was a Miles of Aisles live version of "Big Yellow Taxi" that's not included here. But after almost 30 years, she's finally delivered a 15-song compilation of her signature songs that will be a CD point-of-departure for casual fans and newcomers well into the new millennium. The companion Misses volume is an intriguing curio that might rather more generously have been marketed as a bonus disc. --Jeff Bateman
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