Cover Stories

The concept of singer/songwriters revisiting their work in new and different settings is not an original one. Some of the most interesting include Joni Mitchell’s Travelogue, Cyndi Lauper’s The Body Acoustic, and, more recently, the Indigo Girls’ Live with the University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra. On In the Blue Light (Legacy), a new studio album that marks Paul Simon’s return to the Sony Music family of labels, the legendary artist offers “fresh perspectives” on ten of his favorite songs. That’s an important distinction, because if you were expecting to hear some of your favorites, you’ll have to look elsetwhere. Simon […]

Really Retro

Hello 1968! It’s nice to hear from you again. Coming as it did after 1967’s ambitious (and symphonic) Days of Future Past, the Moody Blues’s 1968 album In Search of the Lost Chord (Deram / UMC), reissued in an expanded 50th anniversary edition, had a lot resting on its shoulders. A thoroughly psychedelic affair – check out “Legend of a Mind” with its Timothy Leary name-check – it’s a departure in more ways than one. Regardless, the album was accessible even if you weren’t partaking in mind-altering substances. “Ride My See-Saw” is one of the band’s most popular songs, and […]

Sound Tracking

 If you make plans to go to see a movie in early November 2018, you’ll have your pick of several titles featuring queer characters, including Yen Tan’s brilliant and devastating 1985 and Melissa McCarthy playing gay in Can You Ever Forgive Me. The overt queerness of A Star is Born is either the most calculated move in recent memory or a love letter to gay fans. Yes, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand are beloved by the LGBTQ community (and Garland’s A Star is Born was directed by a gay man), but the new version, directed and co-written by Bradley Cooper […]

They Will Rock You

First things first, for all of those concerned about the way that Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality is depicted in the Bryan Singer’s Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, you can relax. From the minute you first see Mercury, played brilliantly by Rami Malek (complete with prosthetic teeth), there is no doubt that the king of Queen was, in fact, a queen. Yes, his relationship with “fiancée” Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) gets a fair amount of screen time. But, so do his same-sex attractions, from being cruised by a trucker outside of a men’s room to his relationships with manager Paul (Allen Leech) and […]

Jill Sobule Kills it on new album

There is no one else like Jill Sobule. Seriously, how many other singer/songwriters can you think of who are outrageously funny, heartbreakingly serious and politically left, sometimes in the same song? Beginning with the commercial breakthrough of her 1995 eponymous sophomore release (containing the groundbreaking, inimitable hit single “I Kissed A Girl”) and continuing with outstanding (but unfairly overlooked) albums including Happy Town, Pink Pearl, Underdog Victorious,California Years and Dottie’s Charms, Sobule never failed to amaze us. Nostalgia Kills (Pinko), Sobule’s first album in four years is another masterpiece and one that deserves a large audience. Living up to its […]

Even More Solos and Sides

If you had the misfortune of suffering through Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, you might not think it would be possible for anything good to come from such a debacle. But you’d be wrong. Cher, who played Sophie’s grandmother Ruby, and performed the song “Fernando” as a duet with Andy Garcia, may be the only one who survived the wreck as a winner. For her new album Dancing Queen (Warner Brothers), her first studio recording in five years, Cher reinterprets ten ABBA songs with mostly delightful results. Not a particularly original concept (Erasure beat sure Cher to it by […]

Voices from the Past

All hail Liz Phair! Kicking the male-dominated Chicago rock scene in its tender nuts with her steel-toe boots, Phair’s 1993 debut album Exile in Guyville didn’t mince words when it came to the battle of the sexes. It was a bruising felt round the world, as dudes and bros moved to cover their privates. Twenty-five years later, the 18 songs on that album, as well as those on the preceding Girlysound home demo tapes, still sound fresh and ring true. The restored triple disc set Girly-Sound to Guyville (Matador), a provocative musical history lesson if there ever was one, is […]

Oh, the Horror!

You know how somethings improve with age? Well, Exorcist II: The Heretic (Scream Factory), now available in a collector’s edition Blu-ray, isn’t one of them. An incoherent mess when it was first released, the catastrophic 1977 sequel to The Exorcist, directed by John Boorman (Deliverance and Hope and Glory), features an intoxicated Richard Burton at his scenery-chomping worst. Even the few returning cast members, including Linda Blair, Kitty Winn, and Max Von Sydow, couldn’t give this doomed production the credibility that it needed. Father Lamont (a bumbling Burton) calls on the spirit of the late Father Merrin (Von Sydow) to […]

Dancing Towards Doomsday

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, things look bleaker than they have in a long time. You can bury your head in the sand and hope it stops. You can take to the streets in protest in an effort to make it stop. Or you can dance your cares away. Leave it to the genius of Merrill Garbus of tUNe-yArDs to turn cultural appropriation and apology for white privilege into a dance party as she does on I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life (4AD). Not only does the new album contain some of tUNe-yArDs’ fiercest […]

Complete Coverage

In the history of modern pop music, certain acts are associated with the songwriters behind their biggest hits. Dionne Warwick will forever be linked with Burt Bacharach and Hal David. While they had hits written by others, the Fifth Dimension’s most memorable hit singles were penned by Laura Nyro. Motown divas The Supremes (Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard) are another perfect example. It’s hard to imagine where they would be without the songs composed by the team of Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland. Essentially an expanded and rebranded reissue of 1967’s The Supremes Sing Motown, The […]