Vinyl destination

All things considered, when you factor in her health, as well as her stated distaste for the music industry, 2007’s Shine (Craft Recordings), newly reissued and making its (180-gram) vinyl debut may be Joni Mitchell’s final studio recording. Mitchell, who became an increasingly outspoken critic of contemporary culture, especially in the 1980s and 1990s on albums such as Dog Eat Dog, Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm, Turbulent Indigo and Taming the Tiger, doesn’t relent in the least on Shine. Narrowing her focus to the destruction of the planet (“This Place”, “If I Had A Heart”, “Bad Dreams”, “Strong and Wrong” […]

Family affairs

 Extraordinary singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson knows a thing or two about good genes. Her father, Terry Gilkyson, was also a singer and songwriter with a fascinating career. In addition to writing hit songs for others, he sang on The Weavers’ hit “On Top of Old Smokey” and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the song “The Bare Necessities” from Disney’s 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book. Eliza’s brother Tony is also a musician and was a member of the important L.A. bands X and Lone Justice. Eliza herself has been a recording artist (under her own name) for more than […]

Safety in (small) numbers

Social distancing can be a challenge if you are in a band. It probably gets somewhat easier for musical duos and (possibly) trios. Tennis, married couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, have a habit of social distancing when it comes to writing their songs on long boat trips as they are known to do. For two people in the habit of keeping their distance from other folks, the timeless pop songs on Swimmer (Mutually Detrimental/Thirty Tigers) have a universal appeal. The evocative and suitably titled opener “I’ll Haunt You” lingers long after it ends. “Need Your Love” picks up the […]

What does Chicago sound like?

During the great COVID-19 shutdown of 2020 we have plenty of time to ponder all sorts of things. Such as what does Chicago sound like? In the early days, Chicago sounded like the blues and jazz. By the 1960s, Chicago’s rock scene included bands such as The Buckinghams, The Cryan’ Shames, Shadows of Knight and New Colony Six. Named for the city, Chicago went on to become one the biggest bands in the world during the `70s and beyond. Other `70s acts included Styx, The Ides of March, Cheap Trick and REO Speedwagon. The Chicago music scene lost ground to […]

Don’t Pull the Plug

Even the most devoted listeners to electronic music must admit that things were getting kind of stale. But things have changed over the course of the last year, beginning with Billie Eilish’s thrilling and Grammy Award-winning When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The good news is that there’s more where that came from. Eilish wasn’t the only plugged-in act to score Grammy gold in early 2020. Far from being the Chemical Brothers best album, No Geography (Astralwerks) nevertheless scored two Grammys, one Best Dance / Electronic Album and one for Best Dance Recording (for the song “Got […]

Mad Respect for the Elders

The immeasurable loss of Leonard Cohen, who died at 82 in 2016, is still being felt. There was only one Cohen and there doesn’t appear to be another on the horizon who can replace him. As hard as it was to take, fans resigned themselves that You Want It Darker, released shortly before his passing (eerily similar to David Bowie and Blackstar) would be his final album. That, however, is not the case. Thanks for the Dance (Columbia / Legacy), a project by Adam Cohen (musician son of Leonard), incorporates nine more of his father’s compositions, completed after his death […]

Songs of Long Ago

It must have sucked to be Frank Sinatra during the 1960s. After being a dominant musical force throughout the 1950s and recording some of the most timeless albums in pop music history – including In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me and Only the Lonely – he was suddenly adrift. To add insult to injury, The Beatles, who were kicking Sinatra’s proverbial ass, were Capitol Records’ label-mates, essentially pushing him aside. But Ol’ Blue Eyes had a few more tricks up his sleeve and his 1969 album My Way (Capitol / UMe / Signature […]

Here, Queer

Currently at a laughable 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, the winter holiday rom-com (and waste of a perfectly good Henry Golding) Last Christmas may be better remembered for the 15-track album Last Christmas: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack featuring the Music of George Michael Wham (Sony / Universal) than anything else. Movies inspired by songs (The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, Convoy, Ode to Billy Joe, Harper Valley PTA) don’t have the best track record. Nevertheless, the gathering of these songs on the soundtrack, including the title tune, “Faith,” “Praying for Time,” “Waiting for that Day,” “One More Try,” […]

Yesterday Today

More than 50 years into his solo recording career, James Taylor shows no signs of slowing down, still performing concerts to sold out houses. Taylor, the first non-Beatle artist signed to Apple Records, went on to record six studio albums for Warner Brothers, followed by a long association with Columbia Records. Taylor’s WB albums, released from the early to mid-1970s, have been reissued in the creatively titled little box set, the Warner Bros. Albums 1970-1976 (WB / Rhino). Taylor set the bar (almost too) high with the first two, 1970’s Sweet Baby James and 1971’s Mud Slide Slim and the […]

Wonderful Christmas Time

Originally released in 1994 and reissued in an expanded CD edition in 2018, Wonderful Christmas Time (UMe), Diana Ross’s only solo Christmas album makes a holiday return in a limited edition, translucent red vinyl double LP set. Bracketing the album with songs by her 60s-era music contemporaries, Paul McCartney (the title track) and John Lennon (“Happy Xmas War is Over”), Ross mixes gospel (“His Eye Is On The Sparrow” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain”) with traditional (“The First Noel,” “Ave Maria,” “Amazing Grace”) and popular (“The Christmas Song,” “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland”) songs of the season wrapped up […]