Shot Of Rhythm

[ Wednesday, April 26, 2006 ]


Double shot of my baby's love, part 2: New release round-up

Obviously, at the very tip-top of this week's list is Bruce Springsteen's astounding album of old folk songs, WE SHALL OVERCOME, which - thank God - is a lot closer to the multicultural party vibe of his first two albums than the sleepy, graduate-seminar atmosphere I was afraid he'd pull out. He's singing great, the band sounds great, and he FINALLY has a drummer who can swing (Larry Eagle in the house!). His blend of a bluegrass/country rhythm section, New Orleans brass, gospel background vocals, accordion and organ creates the kind of American folk orchestra that legendary pre-jazz musician Lieut. Jim Europe aimed to create in the early-20th century. The other great triumph of WE SHALL OVERCOME, connected with the previous, is the fact that Springsteen's exuberance and irreverence reminds all of us that the "folk" music of the present was the "pop" music of the past, and that - far from Greil Marcus' "old, weird America" - the majority of antique American songs that have stayed popular were the daily music of love, death, joy and struggle for thousands of ordinary folks. Thanks, Boss. Can't wait for the tour.

"Old Dan Tucker"

"Mary, Don't You Weep"

"Jacob's Ladder"

Second today, though, is the new collaboration between Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, ALL THE ROADRUNNING, a glorious surprise of gently insistent songwriting. This album is not gonna change anybody's life, but it might make it better for awhile. Knopfler hasn't sounded this good since the heyday of Dire Straits, and Harris keeps the tremulousness to a minimum, letting her naturally rich vocals shine through the gorgeous melodies and rich instrumentation. Some of it sounds country-soul, some straight pop-rock, and - on "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" - Knopfler even sounds dangerously like Springsteen in his pop-soul mode. I've probably played ALL THE ROADRUNNING as much as any record this year, and that's only a day after it came out. Seriously; it's that addictive. Like a warm ocean breeze, perfect for summer evenings and - I'm sure - the cold, cozy winter nights that inevitably follow.


"Donkey Town"

"Beyond My Wildest Dreams"

Make sure you check out the Flavor Flav entry below, and I'll see you after awhile.

On the box right now: Ice Cube, DEATH CERTIFICATE.


Dove With Claws [4:50 PM]


Double shot of my baby's love, part 1: Flavor Flav

So, I'm away this weekend at the Experience Music Project conference, so I'm givin' you a special two-fer this evening. First of all, I offer four pieces of evidence to reclaim Flavor Flav from the sad dustbin of VH1 (un)-reality show infamy. Flav's work with Public Enemy not only enriched each of Chuck D's blasts of righteous indignation, but - in my humble opinion - Flav's biting humor and penchant for fierce dance beats are highlights on each PE album, including their god-awful new record, where Flav's track is about the only worthwhile cut.

Here are four of his best. "911 Is A Joke" and "I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga" show Flav at his very best, half-trickster, half-philospher, all bangin'. "What Kind Of Power We Got" is a rarer track, from 1994's underrated MUSE-SICK-N-HOUR-MESS-AGE. The final cut, "The Hot 1," is a recent, rare, and - I believe - as-yet-unreleased single that suggests that, not only does Flav still have it, but he might could return PE to the toppermost of the hip-hoppermost. His flow is mad, the beat is - in PE's truest tradition - harsh to the point of abrasion, and the insanity in every verse lands the song somewhere between "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and the street-corner ravings of a schizophrenic. Before Brigitte Nielsen, before FLAVOR OF LOVE, and before he became the buffoon that Public Enemy always lampooned through his presence, Flavor Flav was - and still is, I believe - one of the most original voices in modern music.

So here's four from Flava, the once and future hype-man extraordinaire. Stay tuned for the new-release round-up:

"911 Is A Joke"

"I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Niga"

"What Kind Of Power We Got?"

"The Hot 1"

On the box right now: Ice Cube, DEATH CERTIFICATE. Welcome to the jungle...


Dove With Claws [4:38 PM]