Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Friday, December 09, 2011
David Kirby (Little Richard) on Bo Diddley
Michael T. Fournier (The Minutemen) on Hayden Thompson
Megan Mayhew Bergman & Kate Schatz (PJ Harvey) on The International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Nicholas Rombes (The Ramones, A Cultural Dictionary of Punk) on Henry Green
LD Beghtol (Magnetic Fields) on Southern food.
Plus a review of Richard Henderson's 33 1/3 on Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle.
Not to mention Mark Winegardner on Syl Johnson, Peter Guralnick on Howlin' Wolf, Oliver Wang on Charles Wright, and pieces by Roseanne Cash, Jack Pendarvis, Roy Blount, Jr, Nick Hornby... the list goes on.
Now that I've read the table of contents to you, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Generally, I take this sort of thing with a grain of salt, but there's not too much to argue about here.
Friday, December 02, 2011
By Aaron Cohen.
Continuum, paper, $12.95.
As with all the books in Continuum’s 33· series, this one looks at a single album — in this case, Aretha Franklin’s 1972 live gospel set, “Amazing Grace,” which Cohen (an associate editor at DownBeat) argues is her “artistic peak.” That’s no small claim, and to back it up Cohen uses one of the more dogged, simple and effective approaches in the series: sit down, cue up the music and expound on an album’s merits, cut by cut, while bringing in choice factoids, testimonies and eyewitness accounts. Of course, Cohen’s palpable wonder regarding Franklin’s legendary foray into gospel music helps the cause, but his enthusiasm never undercuts his judicious accounts of how a given track functions, and what made Franklin’s methodology so different from that of any other soul singer turned church musician (or, in Franklin’s case, church musician turned soul singer turned church musician). The detective work is formidable as well, and invaluable, given that “Amazing Grace” owed almost as much of its success to its behind-the-scenes players as it did to Franklin. Cohen calls the recording team “as unique as the situation,” and there’s an impressive breakdown of what went on in postproduction, which sometimes reads like a mash-up of biblical citations and digital patois: “The sermonette is cut and pasted together so that the New Testament tale is sandwiched between the Exodus parts.” Aretha completists and neophytes alike will have reason to take to bended knee in gratitude for Cohen’s delineation of the differences between the original album and the bells-and-whistles reissue.
The author of the Ramones 33 1/3 has a wonderful piece in the Southern Music Issue of the Oxford American, http://oxfordamerican.org/articles/issues/latest_issue/ on obscure Mississippi bluesman Henry Green.