Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Last night, three of the four surviving Faces (but not Rod Stewart) reunited for a benefit gig in England, according to Music News Net. Ron Wood, Ian McLagan and Kenny Jones, with Wood's former Rolling Stones bandmate Bill Wyman on bass, performed with a few different singers, including Mel C. from The Spice Girls, Kiki Dee (Elton John's duet partner on "Don't Go Breaking My Heart") and the dude from Simply Red. OK, but it's still pretty exciting anyway! Apparently Rod was in the U.S. promoting his new album Soulbook, where he covers soul music classics (I'm curious to hear it). Apparently Kenny Jones was saying that the reunion may be in the cards for 2010! The benefit was for the PRS For Music organization, by the way.


Ward Sutton is a great cartoonist who has been featured in "alternative weeklies" like New York's Village Voice. But today on, I saw a cartoon that he did about the legacy of Bruce Springsteen's classic song, "Born In The U.S.A." Check it out.


I always appreciate new takes on profiles of rock artists. All of these guys have done so many interviews, sometimes it seems like it's hard to find a new angle. So, credit to Clash Music. Instead of talking to Tom Araya about the new Slayer album, they asked his advice on surviving all these years in the industry -- no mean feat, Slayer have never gotten any radio or video play, never came close to the pop mainstream, and still have a huge following. Their new album, World Painted Blood, comes out on November 2. On that note, check out a funny Slayer inspired video here.


Earlier this year, I wrote about how the long dormant Lilith Fair website posted a new message, "returning in 2010." Today, the site relaunched, with a list of cities that the tour will be hitting - no venues, dates, or artists, just cities. I went to all three Lilith Fairs and saw some great artists: Sarah McLachlan, of course, also Tracy Chapman, Sheryl Crow, The Indigo Girls, The Pretenders, Morcheeba. I wonder who Sarah will get this time around?


After collapsing one song into a concert earlier this week, last night Morrissey performed a full show last night at the Royal Albert Hall, according to the BBC. Glad to hear he's feeling better. He's scheduled to be on the road for the rest of the year, including dates here in the U.S.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


OutQ listeners know I like to flip the script. Last week, I discussed "outlaw" country music. Tomorrow,I'll talk about hip-hop.

I never bought into Jay-Z like most everyone else have. I have no great objection to him, I just have not often felt the need to pay to hear his music. That said, he has some great songs: I like "Can I Get A...," "Money Ain't A Thing" and his cover of Ice-T's "99 Problems." He was also great on "Swagga Like Us." But his new song, "Run This Town," featuring Rihanna and Kanye West, is great. Rihanna's cool, it's nice to hear her return with such power. And hopefully this will be the last we hear from Kanye for a while. I'm a fan of his music, but I think he needs a break from the limelight, and the world needs a break from him.

Kid Cudi is a protegee of Kanye, I don't know too much about him, but he seems to sort of come from the Native Tongues tradition. This song features Kanye and Common, and prominently samples Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga is also featured on Wale 's "Chillin'." He's a protegee of the great UK producer Mark Ronson. Pretty cool song. It's interesting to hear so many hip-hop dudes into Lady Gaga.

T.I. was being hailed as "The Jay-Z of the South" at one point. I felt the same about him as I did about Jay: no objection, but I wouldn't go out of my way to listen. After a while, I started to enjoy some of his songs. "Dead and Gone" with Justin Timberlake is great, and he killed it on "Swagga Like Us." This new song, "When I'm Gone," featuring Mary J. Blige, has a lot of weight. He's currently serving a year in prison.

Michael Franti has never gotten much attention in hip-hop, but just as I like "outlaw" country, I also like "outlaw" hip-hop. Not gansta, but guys who don't follow the same rules (or hire the same management companies or marketing companies) as the hip-hop stars. Franti got his start in a punk/hip-hop band called The Beatnigs who were on Jello Biafra 's Alternative Tentacles label. Then he had a sort of industrial/hip-hop hybrid group The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphopracy. Then he formed the more rootsy Spearhead, and they're sort of in the jam band scene. They're really political, but this is just a fun summer jam. I can't believe the guy has a hit single, like 20 years into his career! But good for him.

The Beastie Boys "Too Many Rappers" featuring Nas is the lead single from the Beasties' Hot Sauce Committee, which should have come out by now, but was delayed because of Adam Yauch's recent health scare. This song also gets some extra weight from Yauch's first lines: "I been in the game since before you was born, I'll still be MCing after you're gone." I'm glad that that's still true. No one takes the old-school hip-hop feel and makes it modern like the Beasties.


Aimee Mann is one of my favorite artists of
all time. And, one of the greatest artists of the past decade, if not the best. Not just because of her incredible albums, but also for the way she's conducted herself and her career. She's practically created her own alternate universe where she can exist without having to deal with the music industry. She's certainly earned that right.
A little background. In the '80s, it would be hard to predict how her career would unfold. She was the singer and bassist for a "new wave" band called 'Til Tuesday who had a huge hit with "Voices Carry." But they seemed destined for "one-hit wonder" status. They split up, and Aimee apparently had a hard time getting away from her label to sign with another label to launch her solo career.
In the '90s, she struggled with label problems, which were considerable. She put out two genius albums, 1993's Whatever and 1995's I'm With Stupid on Imago and Geffen, neither of whom knew what to do with them. They are great records and you should check them out.
When Aimee was working on her next album, her label Geffen was being folded into Interscope, who were enthralled with Limp Bizkit and Eminem... not the best enviornment for Aimee's music. They didn't like the album, or didn't get it, and she bought the masters back from them. Meanwhile, the great film director Paul Thomas Anderson, who had worked with Aimee's husband Michael Penn on Boogie Nights, started writing a screenplay around a lyric from one of her Aimee's new songs, "Deathly." That became the film Magnolia, and the soundtrack was mostly made of songs that Aimee was working on at that point. The film and the soundtrack both came out in December of 1999.
Aimee's music got more attention from its role in Magnolia than it had ever had before. Other songs from her late'90s sessions (and some songs from Magnolia) became the independently released Bachelor No. 2. Possibly my favorite album of the '00s. Interscope didn't think that it had commercial appeal, but it went on to sell more than 200,000 copies without major distribution, and it established Aimee as a career touring artist. She can play any song from Magnolia/Bachelor No. 2 and people know all the words.
She followed it up with Lost In Space in 2002, another classic, and on her own label, United Artists. She seemed to tour non-stop for the album for about two years - including some joint touring with Michael Penn. Those shows were so awesome: they played as one band, backing each other up. And the funny thing was, they hired comedian Patton Oswald to open the shows, but also to provide in-between song banter, ostensibly because they aren't funny. The joke is, both Mann and Penn are hilarious anyway (albeit in a drier way than Oswald).
Two more solid albums, 2005's The Forgotten Arm, and 2008's Smilers add up to a great decade. Plus, she started doing these really cool Christmas tours (although this year she's apparently only playing Largo in L.A.) to go along with her holiday album One More Drifter In The Snow. I don't think anyone out there today writes better songs, and no one has more cred (not that that matters, but I just have so much respect for the woman). I don't know if she's working on a new album - I heard she might be doing some kind of screenplay for The Forgotten Arm - but whatever she does, it is worth paying attention to. She's not the type to take requests, but I'd love to see her work with Jon Brion again (he produced Magnolia and Bachelor No. 2). I almost hesitate to write that last sentence - I kind of imagine Ms. Mann reading this and coming up with some dry, searing retort. But, whatever. Hey, if you've read this far, and don't have her albums, pick up Bachelor No. 2 and Lost In Space, you'll thank me.

More Best Of The '00s: Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson


The other night at the Q Awards, Robert Plant told the BBC that he's been talking with the organizers of England's Glastonbury Festival about playing their fest this summer. The event has already sold out, without naming one performer! But the festival seems to like having a very hip bill with some prestigious bigger names headlining - such as Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Paul McCartney. Plant said to the "beeb": "There is a place for me there, but I have no idea who with." He's always so cagey: of course millions of people would be hoping that he is referring to another Led Zeppelin reunion (although, this time around, John Paul Jones is the Zep-guy with the busy schedule, due to his new band Them Crooked Vultures). But he could just as easily be referring to another performance with Alison Krauss. Of course, as great as Robert and Alison are, they probably wouldn't be the right choice to headline that festival.


Back in the day, Eric Clapton quit The Yardbirds because he thought that they were going too "pop" (he obviously hadn't predicted songs like "Lay Down Sally" and "Wonderful Tonight" in his future). He was replaced by Jeff Beck, and The Yardbirds became an even better band than they were before.

Now, Clapton has announced that he is dropping off of this week's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert at MSG because of gallstones. I'm sorry to hear that - and I hope he is feeling better soon. But pretty cool that Jeff Beck is playing instead. (Let's hope that Jeff doesn't do one of his legendary flake-outs and drop off - although then they might have to get Jimmy Page to play!).

I'd love to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shows (on Thursday night, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band and Stevie Wonder are on the bill, on Friday it is Metallica, U2 and Aretha Franklin), but I just can't afford the tickets.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I've already written about Buddy & Julie Miller's album, Written In Chalk.
It's too bad that more people don't know about this remarkable couple. Julie has been keeping a lower profile lately, but Buddy has been playing in John Fogerty's band, (after having played in Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' touring band, Robert returning the favor by duetting with Buddy on a cover of Mel Tillis' "What You Gonna Do Leroy" on this album). He also toured with Emmylou Harris, Patti Griffin (both of whom guest on the album as well) and Shawn Colvin on the "Three Girls and Their Buddy" tour. He had a health scare during that tour, but I saw him perform with Fogerty's band recently, and he looked and sounded great. Anyway, Buddy and Julie never get a lot of hype, I doubt they'd want it anyway, but you should check out their solo albums as well as the ones they record together, including this one.
Other Best of '09 albums: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life , The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre , Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall, N.A.S.A.'s Spirit Of Apollo , Levon Helm's Electric Dirt


How do you wish a guy like Morrissey well? I don't know, but I'd heard that he collapsed on stage after playing just one song ("This Charming Man") on Saturday night at a concert in England. Morrissey ain't the guy who is gonna be tweeting about this stuff (he would probably shoot anyone that suggested he even look at a "tweet"), but at least his website reports that he is under doctor's orders to rest, and that ticketholders for the show, and another show afterwards hold on to their tickets, as no decisions have been made about the concerts. Anyway, get well soon, Morrissey!


Unsurprisingly, U2 didn't just allow YouTube to stream their L.A. concert this weekend for nothing - it was to promote the next US leg of their tour, they'll be here next summer. One thing I learned from checking out the tour page on I was wondering how these guys, who used to campaign for Greenpeace, justified the tons of trucks that they need to transport their huge stage from city to city. But they are shooting for a zero emissions goal for the tour. Good for them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Remember back in January, I mentioned that Jack White would be collaborating with Adele? Well, it turns out that it's not just Jack, it was a session with The Raconteurs, much like their collaboration with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe. They re-recorded their own song "Old Enough," bluegrass style and Skaggs and Monroe. This time, they did a more R&B version of their song "Many Shades Of Black" with Adele. Oddly, it will be coming out on a soundtrack CD for the television show 90120. Please! Release it as a CD single, or at least a la carte on iTunes. Don't make me buy a 90210 album, I won't do it. I'll borrow someone else's. But I am definitely looking forward to hearing it. It's probably the last we'll hear from the band for a while: Jack White and Jack Lawrence are both still working with The Dead Weather, and after that, I'm sure Jack will do another White Stripes project - especially since a documentary film about the band is coming out soon. There's also rumors that Jack White may be working with The Rolling Stones as well. And, of course, Brendan Benson has just released a solo album. But I'm sure The Raconteurs will get together again at some point, and I hope they do, they're a great band.


Them Crooked Vultures - the band featuring John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass and keyboards, Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters on drums and Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stones Age and The Eagles Of Death Metal on guitar and vocals - will release their self-titled debut on November 17. I can't wait to hear it. A friend of mine recently went to see them at Roseland in NYC, where they played all new music that no one had heard yet, and supposedly it was awesome.

Speaking of The Foo Fighters, I heard their new single "Wheels," from their upcoming greatest hits album, and it is very Petty-like. I like it a lot.


Not that this is becoming a comic book blog, but I just read that Mastodon
is scoring the upcoming Jonah Hex film. Hex is a western badass character via DC Comics, and Mastodon are the perfect band to do the score. I haven't written about them yet, but if I were in high school today, that would be my band. I'm quite a few decades out of high school, and I still think that they rock. Hopefully this movie will be good too - Josh Brolin is a great choice for the title character. Megan Fox is in it too - all I know about her is that she pops up in lots of magazines.


It looks like Spider-Man, the Broadway musical -- with songs written by Bono and The Edge -- is experiencing more troubles, according to a New York Times blogger. I was no fan of the idea in the first place, and I'm not surprised. For the record, I totally loved "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," the song that U2 did for one of the (bad) Batman films in the '90s. And The Edge even did a pretty cool title theme for a Batman cartoon after that. I don't have a problem with this kind of stuff. But a superhero musical that's not done as kitch? I don't see how it will work, and it kind of goes to show you what sort of stuff Bono and The Edge (and I am a huge fan of both) will come up with without Larry Mullen Jr. around for quality control. I mean, really, this is an idea that had to have come up at some dinner party where $5000 bottles of wine are the norm. It seems to embody all the '70s and '80s rock bloat that U2 were always against.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band opened all of their Giants Stadium shows (and some of thier Spectrum shows) with a brand new song written for the occasions of both venues closing down, "Wrecking Ball." Now you can buy it at iTunes for 99 cents, or $1.99 with the video. I wonder if Pearl Jam will cover it when they play the actual final concert at The Spectrum on Halloween.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Rush drum maestro Neil Peart rarely speaks to the press
but he wrote a great tribute to Blue Cheer, whose bassist/singer Dickie Peterson, recently passed away. It's on Rolling Stone's website.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Public Enemy is asking fans to fund the recording and marketing of their next album, and they promise to share the profits too. So far, they have raised $50,000. I wonder how many groups from any genre would be able to pull that off, two decades into their career.


Variety reports that Run and D.M.C. are in talks with film producer Paula Wagner (a producing partner of Tom Cruise) to bring the Run-D.M.C. story to Broadway. That could be disastrous, but who knows, it's a great story (albeit one with a tragic ending).


The Roots album How I Got Over was supposed to come out this month, but now it won't be out until text year, according to ?uestlove's tweet. He says they want it to be "right" instead of "right now." This is an important album for them - their first since getting the Jimmy Fallon gig, and their second and (probably) last on Def Jam.


Faith No More have done some reunion shows at a few European festivals this year, but what U.S. fans want to know is, when will they play here? Bassist Bily Gould just tweeted this: "In response to all of our concerned US brethren...YES...we yare now actively planning US dates." HELL YEAH!


I've written about the new Levon Helm album, Electric Dirt, a bit already, but it is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year. In fact, this album combined with his big comeback album of 2007, Dirt Farmer, should put him up for my Best Of The '00s series. And even if you don't agree with the statement - that he is one of the best artists of the decade - he surely has one of the most compelling stories. At the start of the decade, the reunited version of The Band - featuring Levon, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko - had broken up, following Danko's death in December of 1999. In the late '90s, Levon had been diagnosed with throat cancer, and was told he wouldn't be able to sing anymore. And he was running out of money and risked losing his farm.

Via his "Midnight Rambles" - concerts at his barn - he earned money to pay his medical bills and dodge forclosure. But the shows weren't just financially valuable: they were so hot that Levon went from being a nostalgia-based artist to someone who people would drive far distances to see (his barn is located in Woodstock). These days, his cancer is in remission, his singing is incredibly strong, his Rambles always sell out, he even tours a bit (selling out two nights in a row at NYC's Beacon Theater a few years back) and he has two super-highly acclaimed albums. Of course this story wouldn't matter so much if those albums weren't so great - but they are. Do yourself a favor and check them out!

Other Best of '09 albums: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life , The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre , Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall, N.A.S.A.'s Spirit Of Apollo


I don't know what's up with the cover of N.A.S.A.'s Spirit Of Apollo album, or what they are trying to say. But don't let the Klan clown trick you, this is a very one-world album. The guest list includes: David Byrne, Chali 2na (formerly of Jurassic 5), Chuck D, Method Man, The RZA, John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, KRS-One, Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ol' Dirty Bastard (the album has been in the works for a long time), Tom Waits, Kool Keith, Kanye West, Santigold, Lykke Li, George Clinton, M.I.A., Del The Funkee Homosapien, Ghostface Killah and the late DJ AM. N.A.S.A. features DJ Zegon and Squeak E. Clean (aka Sam Speigel aka Spike Jonze's brother, which explains some of the guest list). It is a great, fun album that not enough people know about it. Check it out, have a great time, thank me later. It's hard to explain.

Other Best of '09 albums: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life , The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre , Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall, Willie Nelson & Asleep At The Wheel's Willie & The Wheel

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Very often on OutQ, I talk about being a big fan of Little Steven's Underground Garage, and the kind of music that they play on the channel. Tomorrow, I'll be talking about the kind of music they play on Steven's other channel, Outlaw Country. I don't know if I'll get to all of it though, there's lots of great new music to talk about.

First off, new albums from the great Willie Nelson, who, in my mind, is one of the best artists of the '00s. Willie's collaboration with Asleep At The Wheel, Willie And The Wheel, is one of my favorite albums of 2009. It is a fun, rollicking, party album - kind of the way that Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions album is. He also has released American Classic, an album of traditional standards, which is a nice album, but not as good as Willie And The Wheel. I'll be talking about both albums. Willie gets played on Outlaw Country a lot, but of course he has his own channel, Willie's Place. He actually calls in to a live show on the channel every Wednesday.

Willie's longtime buddy Kris Kristofferson has a new album, Closer To The Bone, which is pretty close to the bone, in that it is quite a stripped down album, with very little other than Kris' grizzled voice and guitar. I've only recently gotten into Kris' music, and it's a revelation how great he is.

I meant to talk about Levon Helm on the show a few weeks ago, but it didn't work out. Hopefully we get to it tomorrow, Electric Dirt is one of my favorite albums of the year, and "When I Go Away" may be my favorite song of the year. I think Electric Dirt and his last album, Dirt Farmer, have (maybe) done for him what Raising Sand did for Robert Plant: helped him to finally escape the long shadow of an awesome former band.

Rosanne Cash's new album, The List, is based on a handwritten list that her dad gave her decades ago. It was his 100 "essential" country songs of all time. This album sees her covering some of the songs on that list, some as duets with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Rufus Wainwright.

Finally, one of my favorite DJs, and the lady who I listen to nearly every morning, Elizabeth Cook. She is the weekday morning DJ on Outlaw Country (the weekend lineup is equally awesome, including Shooter Jennings, Steve Earle, Don Was, Cowboy Jack Clement and even WWF legend Hillbilly Jim who has great taste in music), and a great artist in her own right. I'm going to write more about her in the future, she deserves your attention. I think the OutQ crowd will enjoy her song "Sometimes It Takes Balls To Be A Woman."


You can see U2 's concert at the Rose Bowl this weekend, even if you're not in California. They're streaming it, for free, on YouTube. Get more info at


I've never heard of Peter Joback, and I'm not a huge fan of the British Coldplay-ish band Travis. But I have always loved their song "Sing," and Mr. Joback has a really nice version of it - it is a duet with Kate Pierson of The B-52's. And I love the animated video. So I thought you might like it too. If there were more pop songs like this, pop music would be better I think. Ms. Pierson normally sings with a bit of wink, in a sort of kitchy way - which she's great at and I love - but this is a bit more earnest, and I love that too. The video is kind of simplistic - Peter and Kate singing make people happy and less mad. But for the few minutes that it takes to watch it, I'm smiling the whole time, and wishing I could "sing" like them.


Most people might not think of Willie Nelson as one of the top artists of the '00s. But the problem with "most people" is that they don't pay enough attention to things that aren't being shoved down their throat. Willie has put out some incredible music this decade, including what may be my favorite Willie album ever, 2004's It Will Always Be.

Talk about being vital: by my count, he's put out thirteen albums of new material this decade. Not all of them were great: the reggae album (2005's Countryman), the children's album (2001's Rainbow Connection) the collabo-heavy album (2002's The Great Divide) and the blues album (2000's Milk Cow Blues) aren't really classics. But they are all ambitious and all have their moments. Two of his other albums got slammed but also had some cool moments: the Ryan Adams produced Songbird (from 2006) and the Kenny Chesney produced Moment Of Forever (from 2008).

But lets get to the good stuff: other than It Will Always Be, there was You Don't Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker from 2006, 2003's Run That By Me One More Time with his old boss Ray Price, Last Of The Breed, a 2007 double album collaboration with Ray Price and Merle Haggard, and this year's collaboration with Asleep At The Wheel, Willie and The Wheel.

Then there's the one off stuff: his hit single with Toby Keith, "Beer For My Horses," "You Are My Flower" from the 2004 Carter Family tribute album, his daring cover of Bob Dylan's "He Was A Friend Of Mine" for the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack, the equally daring (but funnier) follow-up single, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond Of Each Other." There was the collaboration with Gillian Welch, "I'm Not Afraid To Die," the much funnier iTunes single "Superman." He did a cool cover of Fats Domino's "I Hear You Knockin'" for the Goin' Home tribute album. And another Dylan cover, an amazing verion of "Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)" backed by Calexico for the I'm Not There soundtrack (which made me think he should do a full album with Calexico). And, oh yeah, he covered Waylon Jennings' "Good Old Boys" for the Dukes Of Hazzard soundtrack. He also appeared in the movie. Who else worked with Gillian Welch and Jessica Simpson this decade? Oh yeah, he co-starred in the movie as well, and he also was in Toby Keith's Beer For My Horses flick too.

He still runs Farm Aid, and is a political activist for everything from the legalization of pot to the banning of slaughtering wild horses for meat. Also, he is the proprieter of Carl's Corner Truck Stop in Texas, and also of the great SIRIUSXM Channel Willie's Place.

We should all be so vital in our 70s! Here's to another great decade, Willie.

More Best Of The '00s: Bob Dylan

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I think that the last time Bono wrote one of his columns for The New York Times it was about Frank Sinatra. This time, it is about Barack Obama, and the promise of, and the idea of, America. Check it out.


Metal Hammer had been kind of fuelling rumors that
Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax would be touring together. But now, it looks like it isn't going to happen, according to interviews with Kirk Hammett
and Lars Ulrich. It would be hard to imagine this tour
ever happening, as good as it sounds. I think if Metallica toured with Slayer, that would be awesome enough.


Breast cancer is no joke as everyone knows. But what not everyone knows is that men can get breast cancer. Original KISS drummer Peter Criss didn't know until he found out that he had it. Happily, he had it removed and now he is cancer-free, working on a record and his autobiography. Check out this interview he did with CNN.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


This isn't a tech blog, but this article in ArsTechnica really interested me. It lists various complaints by content industries (music, movies, etc.) about how new technologies were going to "kill" the industry. The composer John Phillip Sousa was worried about people owning "recorded music," and felt he deserved to get paid any time one of his compositions was listened to. Some people thought that photocopiers would make books obsolete. The film industry went ballistic over the VCR and the logo I'm using without permission here was something that the music industry used to protest recordable cassettes. Yes, I am a NARAS member, and I do believe that artists deserve to get paid, but you just can't fight progress. If you are a company or industry, you need to learn to adapt, not have to government make the technology that makes your job more challenging illegal. Now that's the ultimate bailout.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A couple of months ago, I posted about all of the new Willie Nelson releases that came out this year. I actually missed one: Naked Willie, which is some of his older, heavily orchestrated records that were kind of "unmixed" - in other words, stripped down to bare essentials - by Willie's long time harmonica player Mickey Raphael.

And now there's another new release that I didn't know about: a DVD of a concert by Willie with Wynton Marsalis, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis Play The Music Of Ray Charles. It's Willie and Wynton's second DVD in as many years: last year's Live From Jazz At Lincoln Center In New York City also yielded an album Two Men With The Blues. Norah Jones guests on the new DVD.

But my favorite Willie project of the year, and one of my favorite albums of 2009 overall is Willie's collaboration with Asleep At The Wheel, Willie and The Wheel. It is an old-school Texas swing album filled with traditional country tunes, and it is a lot of fun. But the fact that he is 70, has been involved with so many different musical projects, and still runs his businesses, including Carl's Corner truck stop and his great SIRIUS XM channel, Willie's Place.

Other Best of '09 albums: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life , The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre , Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Last summer, I saw Rancid at Irving Plaza in NYC and was blown away, as I have been every single time I've seen them... starting with a gig when they totally blew away The Offspring at Roseland in the summer of '94 (when Offspring were just becomming the biggest band in the land). But I was curious how much I'd like their next album; I don't love their last two albums, 2000's Rancid and 2003's Indestructable. I like, but don't love, Lars Frederiksen's solo records, and Tim Armstrong's other band The Transplants. (However, I love Tim's 2007 solo album A Poet's Life).

Let The Dominoes Fall, which sees them returning to Epitaph, and Bad Religion guitarist/Epitaph boss Brett Gurewitz returning as their producer, is a classic. It's just fun, but deep and moving. I know that lots of indie bands like Pavement will invoke punk rock, but to me this is punk rock with heart, soul and blood. Every word means something, every note is supposed to be there. Tons of great songs that I can't wait to hear live. The expanded version features a bonus disc with acoustic (or demo) versions of the songs. Few of the songs exceed three minutes, but one of the more suprising ones, "Civilian Ways," breaks four. It's an acoustic ballad about a soldier who comes back from the Middle East, and nothing is the same. It brings a lump to my throat. Totally non-partisan and really moving. I wish more people would hear this song - and this album. But the blogs and the media are looking elsewhere. Luckily for you, you're reading this. Now go and check this album out.

Other Best of '09 albums: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life , The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre ,


It happens maybe once a year, and maybe even less. I find out about an artist who I just have to tell everyone about. This year, hands down, that artist is The Cocktail Slippers. Their album, the Little Steven-produced Saint Valentine Day's Massacre, is either my favorite album of the year or my second favorite only to Bob Dylan's Together Through Life, depending on my mood.

They get nearly no press, and haven't done very many U.S. shows - they are from Oslo, Norway - but who cares. Forget what all the blogs are talking about - those bands will be gone soon anyway. They don't need hype. This album is FUN. It's like The Go-Go's or The Bangles or The Shanri-La's. If you trust anything I've written on No Expiration, do yourself a favor and buy this record.

Other Best of '09 albums: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life


Guess what? The first decade of the millenium is almost over! Not only do music enthusiasts "have to" come up with their favorite things from this year, but also the decade!

As I've just mentioned, Bob Dylan had was one my favorite (or one of my two favorite) albums of 2009, Together Through Life. But his other two albums from this decade - "Love + Theft" and Modern Times - are also classic. All produced by him, all devoid of high profile guest cameos, all done by Bob the way he likes to do it - not paying attention to what's going on today, and doing absolutely nothing to court the media's attention. I'd be happy to see a Dylan show where he just draws from those albums (although I'd want to add 1997's Time Out Of Mind as well). Of course I love his '60s stuff and some of his '70s stuff, and I'm not saying his '00s material is quite as earth shaking, but it holds up incredibly well.

Speaking of performing, the '90s were a goldern era, performance-wise, for Dylan. The shows were just stellar. I don't think the '00s have been quite as good, at least up until I saw him this summer. And since that show, guitarist Charlie Sexton has rejoined his band. I think he's back to being great in concert, and I hope to see him later this year.

Bob also was present in movie theaters. First with his cinematic vanity project that I still haven't seen : Masked & Anonymous. I heard it was a brilliant disaster. The soundtrack had Bob doing covers of traditional tunes, as well as Dylan's songs covered by Los Lobos, Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead. And then with I'm Not There, a Todd Haynes film based around his songs. Even though it didn't do for him what Across The Universe did for The Beatles, it was a very cool film with a great soundtrack that featured his songs interpreted by Eddie Vedder, Richie Havens, John Doe of X, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Sonic Youth, Calexico, Mark Lanegan, Willie Nelson, Roger McGuinn, Los Lobos and The Black Keys, among others.

Bob allowed his record label to mine his vaults while not seeming to rely on it too much. Still four volumes of The Bootleg Series over a decade was a cool bonus. The best one was Volume 8: which covered 1989 through 2008. Bob gave a bit of himself away as well, via the Martin Scorsese directed doc No Direction Home, Bob's book Chronicles Vol. 1 and Bob's satellite radio show Theme Time Radio Hour.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that Bob is my artist of the decade. (Although I still have to consider Jack White and Aimee Mann, to name two other candidates).