New music first
Two new acquisitions as we head full-steam into October. Today at the WB store, I picked up the new Jackson Browne record, The Naked Ride Home. I know that most people haven't given Jackson much of a chance, since he appeared in one too many benefits for Central American causes. But his I'm Alive of several years ago was an intermittently lovely collection of love and break-up songs (especially the title track, probably his strongest composition in years and years). He then followed it up with a weaker title, Looking East where he turned more to matters of policy than matters of the heart. We'll see how this one is. I'm not expecting The Pretender or Late for the Sky, but...
The other pick-me-up was David Baerwald's newest release, on Lost Highway Records: Here Comes the New Folk Underground. It's a much rootsier, folk-rocky affair than Bedtime Stories, but I am really enjoying it so far ... great lyrics and melodies, with a much more stripped down production than Baerwald fans are probably used to. I'm liking it already.
posted by Anon. 2:52 PM
We were standing by peaceful waters
Happy birthday today, October 10, to one of my favorite singer-songwriters, John Prine. Prine fans can find great chords and lyrics and other Prine errata here.
As for me, my favorite Prine songs?
"Grandpa was a Carpenter"
"That's the Way the World Goes Round"
"All the Best"
"Take a Look at My Heart"
"Fish and Whistle"
"Living in the Future"
And a great one for anyone out there who has been getting them aortal aches and pains -- "If You Don't Want My Love." Well-worth digging and discovering.
posted by Anon. 12:31 PM
Feeling two foot small
Grey day here in Los Angeles. Driving in to work, I listened to the Help! soundtrack. Most people point to Revolver or Rubber Soul as the changing point for the Beatles, but for me, you can go even further back to Help! Here they took a more introspective turn, bringing in acoustic guitars and plaintive, heartbreaking lyrics and melodies. Not that there aren't silly rockers -- the Dizzy Miss Lizzies of the world. But then there's "Ticket to Ride," "It's Only Love," and, perhaps one of the best songs they ever recorded, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." A great song in this climate, reminding us to bundle up and protect ourselves, from cold and other, more human ailments.
posted by Anon. 9:42 AM
Do you have a blog or linkbox? Add Palmermix!
Hiya. Due to my summer sequestering, I've slowly been having to rebuild Palmermix readership. You'd be surprised how many of my hits today, for instance, came from people doing Google searches for "Howie Epstein heroin." That said, we're still at much lower numbers than when Instapundit linked to us, way back in March.
Some frequent Palmermix readers do link to us a good deal. Outside Counsel, a Buffalo/Manhattan weblog that ventures back and forth between matters of the law and matters of food and rock music, is always kind. So is Below 14th, a blog featuring reviews of food and nightlife in Lower Manhattan.
Links are appreciated. I'd put up a linkbox on my site, but I don't have html. Anyone want to design a cool looking linkbox?
I think I can hear crickets.
And yes, you can still support Palmermix by purchasing any CDs linked on Palmermix to Amazon.
posted by Anon. 5:24 PM
The danger of keeping a blog for a few months is that one starts to worry that he's already posted about certain things. Don't want to be redundant. Or worse, contradicting myself, a more humiliating predicament.
I'm not sure if I've gone into much detail on Lyle Lovett. But seeing as how I've been listening some to his finest collection, his two disc set of covers, Step Inside This House, from 1998, I figured I'd post.
My take on Lyle is that I've always wanted to like him more than I actually do. My girlfriend says that his problem is that his songs make it clear that he doesn't like women too much; I'm not sure if that's it or not, though that's been a disqualifying barrier for me to enjoy such artists as, well, the Eagles. I think that the real problem with Lovett isn't his musicianship -- his singing, while limited, is pleasant enough, and I do love the arrangements of his songs. I think the problem is with his songwriting and material.
His best records of original material, by my estimation, are 1992's Joshua Judges Ruth and 1996's The Road to Ensenada. But these records, when looked closely, are not great albums, but instead ones which have probably two to four very good songs: "North Dakota" and "She's Already Made Up Her Mind" from JJR; "Private Conversation," "Fiona," and the title track off Ensenada.
The rest is a lot of filler, including some unbearable wacky novelty songs, where he's either aping/imitating black churchgoers ("Church" of JJR) or just pushing more Texan cliches ("That's Right You're Not From Texas" off Ensenada). Most other Lovett albums don't even fare this well: in looking over my Lovett collection (and thanks to used purchases, I have all his records except the live one and the anthology), I can probably keep his other swell songs to ten or so:
"If I Had a Boat"
"You Can't Resist It"
"If I Were the Man You Wanted"
His cover of "Stand By Your Man"
"Nobody Knows Me"
and insert your favorite three Lovett songs here, instead of sending me email telling me which ones are good.
Lovett often seems to be singing less as himself and more as a persona -- wacky lovelorn guy with strange hair. Lovett's appeal to me seems similar to that of a band like Old '97s. While aping and mimicking much of country music's mannerisms, you don't get all that much of an idea of how much he actually likes or respects the style.
Which is one reason why Step Inside This House works. It's not Lovett walking in off an Altman set doing his impersonation of a loony Texan. Instead, it's his singing from the heart songs that he loves. And it's a pretty well-chosen collection, too; aside from a few too many inevitable Townes Van Zandt songs ("If I Needed You" is always pretty, but Lovett is a little too reverential for "Lungs" and "Highway Kind"), it's an album of covers of songs you probably never heard before. He covers Guy Clark, sure, but it's a song Guy Clark never recorded (and a beaut, too, Lovett choosing the song to title the collection... it's one of those songs you want to learn the chords for right then and there so you can pull out a pock-marked Martin and strum it for your sweetheart). The rest are songs that only Austin music scene die-hards might know. But the songs are beautiful, especially the wry "Bears" and "Bosque Country Romance," and the rollicking "More Pretty Girls Than One."
Sure, there's far too much here. He coulda kept it down to one 77 minute disc, instead of spreading the wealth. But still, there's a better on-base-percentage here than on a normal Lovett record. And if you like discovering a new set of acoustic songwriters, this might be a good travelogue to that rich Austin scene.
As for his next record, Lovett has been taking his time. Figure that it's been 6 years since his last album of originals. Why the delay?
Maybe he's been working on a set of originals that deserve to see the light of day.
Or maybe he has writer's block. But that never seemed to stop him before.
posted by Anon. 5:08 PM
Discussion around the conference table at work today about the big sports weekend we just had (I'm not a huge Angels fan, but I am a Mike Scoscia fan, even if I can't spell his last name correctly, and I'm certainly a fan of Mike Scoscia crafting a winning strategy to beat the Yankees) led to discussion of tonight's MNF game, which is the Packers vs. the Bears. And any discussion of the Bears leads me immediately to ... well:
"Well they call me Sweetness
and I like to dance
Running the ball is like making romance
We had to go to training camp
To give Chicago a Super Bowl champ
We're not doing this because we're greedy
The Bears are doing this to feed the needy
That's why we got here, on the double
To catch me doing the Super Bowl Shuffle."
Amen. God bless Walter Payton, wherever he may be.
posted by Anon. 12:39 PM
Checking my cell phone messages today, I got this one from a friend:
"I was sitting in a taxi heading downtown."
That was it. That was the message in its entireity.
Friends who leave enigmatic Paul Simon quotes on one's cell phone voicemail. Friends, indeed!
posted by Anon. 9:00 PM
Beast of burden
Did the world really need another Rolling Stones anthology? Probably about as much as it needed another live Rolling Stones album? What with Hot Rocks and More Hot Rocks: Big Hits and Fazed Cookies both covering the Abkco years across two different two disc sets (and the similarly titled Big Hits and Through the Past Darkly titles covering... pretty much the same period)-- not to mention the three disc Singles Collection -- and then (apparently the now out-of-print) Rewind covering their hits from Sticky Fingers to right before Dirty Work, not to mention Sucking in the Seventies, which covered songs from It's Only Rock and Roll through Some Girls (still with me?) the Stones have never been afraid to anthologize or repackage their hits.
(Just look at this list an Amazon user put together for some examples of the anthology-crazy Stones.)
That's not even mentioning the greatest hits shows of all their live records: Get Your Ya-Yas Out, Love You Live, Still Life, Flashpoint, Stripped, No Security. (Enough live records that I've gotten tired of typing the little html code to separately italicize them all.)
And yet, here we have Forty Licks, a two disc set spanning both the Abkco and post-Abkco years. Friends gave it to me as a birthday gift tonight. And even though I already have probably 90% of the songs on it -- from Hot Rocks, from Rewind, and from a few of the other albums ("Happy" from Exile; "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" from Sticky Fingers) -- I'm excited because it has "She's a Rainbow" and "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby."
"She's a Rainbow" is one of my favorite Stones songs, and one which I used to own, before I traded away my copy of Satanic Majesties Request for some Allmans record I didn't even want. It's a bit psychedelic, but it also has one of the lovelier Stones melodies, with some of my favorite Mick vocals. Sigh.
posted by Anon. 8:40 PM