Tuesday, October 19, 2010


For those who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am-ish, I go on SIRIUS XM OutQ's The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick (co-hosted by Keith Price) to talk about music. Sometimes I have a theme, and tomorrow I'm going to be talking about recently released "team-up" albums. (We may also talk about the late, great Solomon Burke as well).

First off is the album by John Legend & The Roots, Wake Up. It's an album of covers of socially conscious R&B and soul covers from the '60s and '70s (as well as one new song written for the documentary Waiting For Superman). Yes, the album was inspired by Barack Obama's election, and was originally supposed to be an EP, but ended up becomming a full length album. Some people think that John Legend is too polite and that he lacks grit. ?uestlove who co-produced the album helped to change that. And as smooth as John is, he is very socially conscious, and you can definitely hear grit and fury in the cover of Bill Withers' "I Can't Write Left Handed." Lots of the songs are pretty obscure, I'd chalk that up to ?uestlove, who probably chose the songs. My one criticism: why have guest MCs, even such great ones as Common and C.L. Smooth when Black Thought is in the group (he's only on two songs). Anyway, I really dig this album.

Fistful Of Mercy is a new group that features one of my favorite artists, Ben Harper. The band also features Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison. They just released their debut album, As I Call You Down. It isn't my favorite thing Ben has done, but it has some really great songs. I recently filmed a performance by the group, I'll be posting a song soon.

Finally, the new duo album by Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union (produced by - of course! - T-Bone Burnett!). Leon was a huge influence on Elton, and Elton reached out to him a while back. Discovering that Leon wasn't in a great place, and bummed that he seemed to be forgotten, Elton invited him to do an album together. It shows what a giving and generous guy Elton is, despite the whole "tantrums and tiaras" thing. So that makes me want to like it. I think it is his best album since 2001's Songs From The West Coast (one of my favorite Elton albums), but not quite as good as that one. Still, there are some great songs, including the first single "If It Wasn't For Bad" (written by Leon) and "Hey Ahab" (written by Elton and Bernie Taupin).

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