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Thursday, March 15th, 2012
Music Reviews

The Beat’s Record Roundup - Homemadesoul, Hubba Hubba, Gretchen Peters, etc.

Backwords

By the Neck

Campers’ Rule Music

Brooklyn-based band dabbles in psychedelic pop, with mostly successful results. The album could use a few more hooks, but it will be interesting to see how this outfit evolves in the coming years.

- Christopher C. Manson

Johnathan Blake

The Eleventh Hour

Sunnyside

Drummer Blake invokes some spirits of his (and other people’s) jazz ancestors in The Eleventh Hour.

Blake’s album debut as a leader finds him with a varied and impressive mix of musicians, among them pianist Robert Glasper and trumpeter Tom Harrell. The 10-track album offers echoes of sax legends Lester Young, Dexter Gordon and Coleman Hawkins, a spinoff suggested by a Thelonius Monk composition, and a Randy Newman tune that was part of a ‘90s film soundtrack. Seven of the tracks are written by Blake. It’s solid, carefully crafted stuff—two years in the making, according to the notes.

- Bruce Collier

Joe Cocker

Hard Knocks

429 Records

He still has the voice, but these songs are a little too polished (and unremarkable) to make an emotional connection.

- Christopher C. Manson

Leonard Cohen

Old Ideas

Columbia

As great as anything the man has ever done, putting him at the top of the wish list for 30A Songwriters Festival 2013. Along with the new Dion, one of the year’s best examples of a musician aging gracefully.

- Christopher C. Manson

Ani DiFranco

Which Side Are You On?

Righteous Babe

Shame on me for ignoring her all these years. This is a major work by an important artist, DiFranco proves herself a keen observer of the human condition, as well as our foremost protest singer (the title track and “Amendment”).

- Christopher C. Manson

Dion

Tank Full of Blues

Blue Horizon

The great, great rock legend’s third (and best) blues record. In his seventh (!) decade of record making, Dion has evolved into a master bluesman, formidable songwriter and first-rate guitarist. None of his surviving peers even come close to what he’s done here.

- Christopher C. Manson

The Doors

L.A. Woman (40th Anniversary)

Rhino

The overrated band’s best album because it’s their bluesiest. Hell, I even found myself warming up to Mr. Mojo Risin’, at least until I got to the rabid-fans-onlyneed-apply odds and sods that pad out this deluxe edition.

- Christopher C. Manson

Kathleen Edwards

Voyageur

New Rounder

As far as song cycles about ups and downs of relationships go, she’s not likely to put Adele out of business any time soon. But Edwards is a fine singer and even better songwriter, especially on the climactic “For the Record.” Ideal late and alone listening, whether you’ve been burned or not - Christopher C. Manson

Homemadesoul

Inspired by a True Story, Vol. 1

www.homemadesoul.com

Homemadesoul, a/k/a Curtis Clark, scores again with a terrific set that sounds undeniably old school and modern at the same time. Choice cuts include “Let’s Stay Together” (the Beachcomber Music Awards nominee for Best Original Song) and “Heartbreak Hotel” (not the Elvis Presley or Jacksons song, by the way).

- Christopher C. Manson

Hubba Hubba

Live at the Red Bar

www.eileenwestgallery.net

With at least three distinctive singers—Beachcomber Music Awards Hall of Famers Duke Bardwell, Bill Garrett, and Franko “Washboard” Jackson—Case Cooper kicking out the jams, and Doug “Dr. D” Dickerson tearing up the guitar, you’d be hard pressed to find a more energetic (and fun) example of Beachcomberland live music. An official Destin CD release party is scheduled for Sunday, March 18 at the Funky Blues Shack. Definitive: Washboard’s “Smoke a Big Joint for Jesus.”

- Christopher C. Manson

Patrice O’Neal

Mr. P

Gladys & Dude Productions

The recently deceased O’Neal—gone way too soon at age 41—distinguished himself on Comedy Central’s Charlie Sheen roast by calling Captain Kirk an asshole and being the only person on the dais that was genuinely funny. He does it again here with his gut-busting observations on sex, the TSA, and economics, to name a few.

- Christopher C. Manson

Papa Grows Funk

Needle in the Groove

www.papagrowsfunk.com

Partially produced by New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint—not the funkiest guy in the world, at least to my ears—this is a fist-rate effort by John Gros and company. The instrumentals really smoke.

- Christopher C. Manson

Gretchen Peters

Hello Cruel World

Scarlet Letter Records

Peters appeared at the 2011 30A Songwriters Festival, and anyone who caught her set will be pleased that “Idlewild” has been preserved for repeat listens. Other highlights include “Dark Angel” (a duet with Rodney Crowell), the infectious “Woman on the Wheel,” and “Five Minutes,” first recorded by Lorrie Morgan way back when I still listened to country radio. It’s obvious here, despite Peters’ success as a songwriter, that the best voice for these songs is her own.

- Christopher C. Manson

Scorpions

Comeblack

Sony

The German rockers remake old hits and cover some oldies, and believe it or don’t, it’s pretty damn good. Though at their ages, “Rock You Like a Thundershower” might have been more appropriate.

- Christopher C. Manson

Soul Rebels

Unlock Your Mind

New Rounder

A near-perfect celebration of New Orleans, its music and its people. The covers of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” are dead-on, but the most propulsive thing here is the joyous opening track “504.”

- Christopher C. Manson

Joe Louis Walker

Hellfire

Alligator

First half is all the solid evidence that Walker is a master of the blues universe, then he shows you what else he can do--gospel (“Soldier for Jesus,” “Don’t Cry”), soulful ballads (the poignant “I Know Why”), straight-up rockers (“Too Drunk to Drive Drunk,” “Black Girls”) and even country (a fantastic cover of “I’m Movin’ On”).

- Christopher C. Manson

Yo-Yo Ma – Stuart Duncan – Edgar Meyer – Chris Thile

The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Sony

Classical I found the downloads for this recording under Classical Music on iTunes, probably because the lead musician is classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma. This is somewhat misleading. Goat Rodeo Sessions, recorded live at House of Blues in Boston, is more of a folk/Americana concert, like Prairie Home Companion on a good night. There’s some classical, but Ma and colleagues Duncan, Meyer, Thile and Aoife O’Donovan bring pretty much every stringed instrument there is to create a let’s-jig-in-the-pub mood. The audience loves it…how often does the world’s greatest cellist sit in on fiddle breaks and hoedowns?

- Bruce Collier