Elvis Presley "Boy From Tupelo," Sony
A young Elvis Presley sings on tracks recorded from 1954 to 1956, and you can almost feel music
transforming under his touch. Some of the songs have a traditional feel that don't press the distinctly Elvis
sound that he later developed, and yet team with his 20-year-old charisma. Other songs demonstrate his
amazing ability to use his voice to portray intense emotion.
"Mystery Train" is a bluesy train song clearly influenced by African-American music of the time. "Blue
Moon" is also a remake, and it's haunting, Western-movie soundtrack style sounds almost otherworldly.
Overall, this is a fun collection of Elvis songs that leaves out many of his overplayed, popular songsÑwith
the exception of "Blue Suede Shoes."
*****Shelton's Single of the Week: "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY"*********
EDITOR'S NOTE: THERE WAS NO MODEL FOR ELVIS PRESLEY'S
SUCCESS; BUT SUN RECORDS HEAD SAM PHILLIPS SENSED THERE WAS
SOMETHING IN THE WIND, AN INEVITABLE OUTGROWTH OF ALL THE
COUNTRY AND BLUES HE WAS RECORDING AT HIS STUDIO. ENTER PRESLEY
IN 1954, BRINGING WITH HIM A MUSICAL VOCABULARY RICH IN COUNTRY,
COUNTRY BLUES, GOSPEL, BLUEGRASS, TRADITIONAL COUNTRY AND
POPULAR MUSIC--AS WELL AS A HOST OF EMOTIONAL NEEDS THAT FOUND
THEIR MOST ELOQUENT EXPRESSION IN SONG. THE REST IS HISTORY.
Laura Bell Bundy "Achin' & Shakin'," Mercury/Universal
Country singer and Broadway performer Laura Bell Bundy has put out her second album using a two part
approach: the first half of the album, known as "Achin'," showcases her storytelling ability and explores
intense emotions to a track of slide guitar and slow fiddle. She incorporates a touch of 1950s music into
this album with backup singing and rolling bass lines. The second half of the album, "Shakin'," is hopping
dancing music with distorted guitar, picked banjo, occasional brass and funky drums, and it shows the
more risqu side of Bundy.
Throughout the album, Bundy's voice has a sincere country twang and speaks words just as sincerely
about who she is, her beliefs and what she's been through. The subject matter in her songs is
multifaceted. It's a relief to hear such an honest and diverse country album that covers more than
straightforward romance, venturing into politics, childhood, anger and sexuality. This is country for the rest
*****Shelton's Single of the Week: Willie Nelson: "On the Street Where You Live"*********
EDITOR'S NOTE: By the way, for you youngsters, Hall & Oates are the most
commerically successful duo in rock history, and have come to epitomize the term
Johnny Cash "American VI: Ain't No Grave," Lost Highway/American/Sony
"American VI" is Johnny Cash's third posthumously released album. The songs on it were recorded
toward the end of his life, but Cash's clearly aged voice only adds potency to the songs.
While there isn't anything unexpected on the album, that isn't necessarily a bad thingÑCash's usual fare
is nothing less than fantastic. He magically makes dark, moody arrangements thrive next to Americana
songs, with lyrics that get at your soul. This isn't an introduction to Johnny Cash for the faint of heart;
rather, it's for brave new listeners and longtime Cash fiends.
******BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK*********
Shelton's Single of the Week: "WONDER WHERE I'M BOUND"
EDITOR'S NOTE: WHEN JOHNNY CASH DIED IN 2003, HE LEFT BEHIND A
VAST LEGACY OF RECORDED MUSIC SPANNING HALF A CENTURY. CASH WAS
A MYTHICAL FIGURE THAT EMBODIED MUCH OF WHAT WAS GOOD, BAD, AND
SOMETIMES CONTRADICTORY ABOUT AMERICA. YOU MUST CHECK THIS
Various "Kick Ass: Music From the Motion Picture," DGC/Interscope/Universal
While you may not remember watching "Kick Ass," the movie, it's soundtrack is one to check out. The
"Kick Ass" soundtrack is packed with high-energy songs of the electronic and rock persuasions riding next
to other odd treats from knowns and unknowns alike.
Mika vs RedOne gives us an '80s-house music collision, The Little Ones introduce a Samba rhythm,
Sparks bring an epically operatic punk number, Zongamin show us the junction of hand drums and
breakbeats, and Ennio Morricone let's us know how weird a music score can get. The energetic mood
continues with songs from the Dickies, The New York Dolls, Prodigy and others. There are no misses on
this soundtrack, only hits, no matter how odd the sound.
Shelton's Single of the Week: "Don't Cost a Dime"
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sweet's hits lead the raunchy glam pack during the
Seventies. These coifed pretty boys were just obnoxious enough to offend
your mother but safe enough to cultivate a mass success.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists "The Brutalist Bricks," Matador
As far as new, nationally recognized punk goes these days, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are well ahead
of the pack. They refuse to get swept up into pop-punk banality. Their chords, while not exactly intricate,
are sharp and expressive rather than sickly-sweet and upbeat like so much other so-called punk music
today. This holds for their lyrics as well: when they sing a love or breakup song, it is rooted in a thoughtful
story or a distinct image.
And they are not afraid of politics, which is the root of punk music after all. The lyrics to "The Stick," a
track on "The Brutalist Bricks," are telling: "You think the government, it wants you on your knees / But I'll
tell you something, and here it is: / They want you driving to the supermarket, buying milk and cheese /
And generating taxes to fuel their corn subsidies / You're either nibbling at the carrot, or you get beat with
Don't worry. Pop-punk hasn't taken over completely. Enjoy this album, and know that you won't be
mindlessly singing alongÑthe album will get you thinking as well.
******ARTIST TO WATCH!!!*******************
The Dandeliers and Other Great Groups on States "Chop Chop Boom," United/States/DelMark
States Records, a subsidiary of United Records that lasted from 1952 to 1957, used its five years wisely,
recording a stunningly talented group of doo-wop, jazz and R&B vocalists. Singing with some of the best
studio musicians of the time, numerous groups cut singles for States Records. However, despite their
quality, the singles remain rareÑmost were sold only in Chicago, home base of the record label.
The Dandeliers, The Hornets, The Strollers, The Drakes, The Palms and The Five Chances bring 1950s
R&B to life on "Chop Chop Boom." Instead of bemoaning that your local oldies station plays the same ten
artists over and over and over, check out this record and get turned on to these forgotten but superb doo-
Various Artists "Live at Knebworth, 2 CD Set," Eagle Rock
"Live at Knebworth" is the 20th anniversary edition of an album recorded at a live 1990 performance
featuring such artists as Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Tears for Fears, Pink Floyd and Elton John. The
concert was thrown to raise money for music therapy for disabled people. The fundraiser was wildly
successful and the money went to the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation and the Brit School of
The music on the album is a flashback. In 1990, many pop stars were practicing a more sober style of
music than they had in the past, and this is apparent in the album. However, it's interesting to remember
what was happening back then with big names, and some of the artists' performances were pleasant, and
************LATE BUT GREAT***********
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "DIRE STRAITS: THINK I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: NICK CAVE WASN'T THE FIRST PUNK WITH LITERARY AMBITIONS, NOR
WAS HE THE FIRST ROCK SINGER TO BE FASCINATED AND INSPIRED BY SUFFERING, RELIGION
OR THE GOTHIC LORE OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH. BUT FEW HAVE EXPLORED THESE THEMES
WITH CAVE'S PASSION OR DETERMINATION, OR LASTED SO LONG.
Riyel "Riyel," Chicken Coup/Summit/Allegro
Haitian band Riyel brings us a sometimes funky, sometimes mellow and completely Caribbean jazz
album. The album is rich with brass instruments and hand drums. Its tumbling rhythms show us the
personality and complexity of Haitian jazz.
A cover of "Four Sticks" by Led Zeppelin are among Riyel's heavier songs, but smoother songs such as
"Pathfinder" round out the album. "Aguanile," the last track on the album, shows us how intricate Haitian
rhythms can get, and is accompanied by unexpected but exciting vocals. So learn how to dance, turn up
Riyel's highly accessible record, and get down to the sounds of the islands.
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Back Broke"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: Their shockingly successful cult phenomenon is one of the strangest rock stories of our time. Check them out.
Anima "Enter the Killzone," Riot/Metal Blade
Anima groans and roars with death-metal fervor that seems to rage forward faster than the speed of the
mind. Dynamically-changing rhythms and sheer brutal forcefulness drive the album toward its conclusion,
though the end of the album seems slightly less energetic than the beginning.
"Enter the Killzone" is almost jazzy as far as death metal goes. Don't think you're going to hear a
saxophone or something; the album is as dark and heavy as any death metal. However, there are odd
rhythms, strange voice manipulations and chords that ring to strained minor keys. If you love metal and
prefer something traditional, "Enter the Killzone" may not be for you, but if you want to dive into the depths
of horror and you are open-minded about your metal, check out this recording.
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "The Game"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: DRAWING EQUALLY ON THUDDING NEW DASH METAL RIFFOLOGY AND THE
GOTHIC-INDUSTRIAL DISCO OF THEIR HOME TOWN OF CHICAGO, DISTURBED WAS PART OF
THE FIRST WAVE OF POST-KORN, NU METAL BANDS.
Paper Tongues "Paper Tongues," Octone/A&M/UMG
Paper Tongues is glued together from hip-hop, electronic beats, and rock and roll. The glue itself are the
voices of the seven members of the band. Their sound are sometimes heard independently, but the most
exciting moments are when a harmonic, unified, choir-like singing emerges out of a combination of their
voices. The singing is augmented by the lyric's honesty and insightfulness.
Paper Tongues is reminiscent of a modern-day version of the 1970s and 1980s band Queen. While
Queen's greatness remains far out of reach, "Paper Tongues" is a fun, dramatic listen with a refreshingly
unique and positive outlook and a lot of potential for future releases.
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "SEEING STARS WITH PATTY GRIFFIN"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mark Knopfler is more interested in satisfying himself than any audience, but when he played "The Sultan's of Swing" with Dire Straits and you don't get a multiple orgasm when you listen, you need help.
Patty Larkin "25," Road Narrows/Signature Sounds
Patty Larkin has been making music for 25 years, and made this album to acknowledge all she's gotten
from other musicians in that time. The album is a tribute to 25 friends, as Larkin plays one love song
written by each friend, imbuing it with her own low and tender voice.
"25" is a concept album, and it makes for a long but diverse listen. Hearing how she ties together the love
songs, though some are energetic and some are slow, some are metaphoric and some straightforward,
shows off her talent not just as a singer-songwriter, but as an interpreter. Her instrumentation should be
categorized with the best of folk guitar, as well. "25" is a new classic pop-folk recording.
***********LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL*****************
*******Shelton's Single of the Week: "WITH JANIS IAN: ITALIAN SHOES"**********
EDITOR'S NOTE: PATTY LARKIN IS A MUSICAL ADVENTURER WHO WRITES SONGS
DESIGNED TO INVITE AUDIENCES TO SHARE HER JOURNEYS. HER COMPOSITIONS ARE
KNOWN FOR THEIR DEPTH, SENSUALITY AND INTROSPECTION. HER STUNNING PRODUCTION
AND INCREDIBLE VOICE ARE ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE, WHICH IS WHY PEOPLE LIKE ROSEANNE
CASH, SUZANNE VEGA, MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER AND GREG BROWN ARE SOME OF HER
MANY PARTNERS ON THIS ALBUM.
Matthew Stubbs "Medford and Main," Blue Bella
Matthew Stubbs makes blues, soul, funk and rock fresh as an ocean breeze. The surf-inspired, guitar
based instrumentals on "Medford and Main" catch somewhere in your chest until you can't help but shake
a leg, nod your head, or full-on rock your body.
Unlike so many guitarists today, Stubbs has an intuitive grasp of the importance of restraint, catchy hooks
and repetition. He treats his guitar like a pen, and what he writes are meaningful, multilayered lyrics too
serious to be cheesy but too playful to sound self-important. The balance is perfect, and the lack of vocals
allows you to truly appreciate the soulful sounds painted by Stubbs. If you love the music behind Brooker
T. and the MGs, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and other soul, you simply must check out "Medford and
EDITOR'S NOTE: He burst onto the scene in the late 70's as one of the first
in a new breed of singers known as "new traditionalists." They were
dedicated to playing country the way Hank, Merle, and Lefty did, and to keeping the
tradition of real country alive. I've never heard a sweeter voice in my
Woody Guthrie "My Dusty Road, 4 CD Box Set," Rounder
Woody Guthrie's music comes back to us in droves with this four disc set. Each disc has its own theme.
The first disc is essentially a best-of for Guthrie. It includes some of his more popular tunes, both his
originals, such as "This Land Is Your Land," and some traditional tunes, including "Going Down the Road."
The second album is called "Woody's Roots," and contains mostly traditional songs. The third album is a
collection of Guthrie's political songs, ranging from "Gonna Roll the Union Down" to "Harriet Tubman's
Ballad." Finally, disc four is a collection of his collaborations with his friends guitarist Cisco Houston and
harmonica player Sonny Terry.
If you've never heard Woody Guthrie, what you need to know is that he tells stories, he creates moments,
he is honest yet charming, he is Americana. Folk musicians for years have found Guthrie himself to be
their roots music. Six previously unreleased tracks top off this musical treat. "My Dusty Road" is a
fantastic and diverse collection of Guthrie's work.
************POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK*******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: WEATHERED, LEAN AND KINDLY, WOODY GUTHRIE'S FACE IS THE FACE
OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC. THIS ASTONISHING, PROLIFIC COMPOSER IS TO THE GRITTY,
ACOUSTIC STORY-SONG WHAT LOUIS ARMSTRONG IS TO JAZZ AND LITTLE RICHARD AND
ELVIS ARE TO ROCK AND ROLL--THE CLEAREST, DEEPEST SOURCE.
Allan Holdsworth, Alan Pasqua, Jimmy Haslip and Chad Wackerman "Blues for Tony," MoonJune
Four jazz musicians come together to celebrate the life of late fusion jazz drummer Tony Williams. The
songs on "Blues for Tony" are all taken from a live concert. They range from five minutes to 11 minutes,
allowing time for rolling and rollicking improvised solos from all the band's members.
Though fusion jazz is a combination of traditional jazz, funk, rock and R&B, this album reveals that the
fusion is very much an independent genre, and still very much alive. While the instruments are typicalÑ
guitar, bass, keyboard and drumsÑthey take you places that only creative jazz musicians can.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "You Belong To Me"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: I fell in love with Carly many moons ago as she was taking
her kid home from a gymnastics class and I was bringing my daughter to the
next class at Central Park West in New York City. Vulnerable vocals share
romantic intimacies, childlike wonders and bold observation. Her "Never Been
Gone" album is as forthright, passionate and wonderfully outspoken as ever.
Devon Sproule "ÁDon't' Hurry for Heaven!" Black Hen
Devon Sproule mixes yodeling with reggae and twang with ballad, all under the guidance of her front and
center voice. Her sardonic lyrics surprise you in conjunction with her unconcerned pop-folk
instrumentation, and let you know she's sincere. She is funny and inspiring, and her album beckons
summer in ruthlessly. From the song "Good to Get Out": "It's good to get out of the house / Doesn't it feel
so good? / Just go and buy a motorcycle / and ride 'til the summer's over."
Sproule is new on the scene, and should be gaining attention in short order with this album. It combines a
carefree sound with grounded lyricism in a symbiotic balance.
**************** NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK**********
******Shelton's Single of the Week: Rebound"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: They go to a place outside themselves, sitting under the stars or all of a sudden there's a hailstorm.
Tony Trischka "Territory," Smithsonian Folkways
This is banjo at its best. Tony Trischka gives us world-influenced tunes and Americana, traditional songs
and originals, vocals and instrumentals. Every song has complex rhythms to rock your body and well
constructed melodies to rock your intellect. Trischka executes each song with sensitivity to mood; each
note is precisely emphasized or de-emphasized.
Unlike many of today's Smithsonian Folkways releases, this one is a first-time release. "Territory" reminds
you why you love Bla Fleck so muchÑbecause Tony Trischka was his instructor. Trischka maintains a
more acoustic feel than Fleck, and the jazz influence is more subtle than in Fleck's music, just hovering
on the outskirts of the songs. Interesting keys and collaborations with Pete and Mike Seeger, Skip Ward
and fiddle star Brittany Haas speckle the album. "Territory" is emotive and danceable, it will sweep you
from home to Hawaii to Africa and back, and it will remain in heavy rotation in your music player for
EDITOR'S NOTE: One of my true heroes. Her singing is so unique it's like speaking. She's completely naked within a song.
Scott Warren "Quick Fix Bandage," Jangular Music
Scott Warren sings to us in a rye voice over a landscape of guitar about troubles and visions that crop up
in life. The music on the record, with scattered slide guitar and harmonica, hints at country music as well
as indie rock. However, "Quick Fix Bandage" has its own feelÑone that could carry you through troubled
times as well as everyday ups and downs.
Warren is adept at playing many of the instruments on the album. But more importantly, he is able to read
the human condition and voice our woes for us. The melodies and rhythms on "Quick Fix Bandage" aren't
mind-blowing, and they aren't supposed to be. The album is more like an old friend with an ordinary, but
essential, shoulder to lean on.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Dreamless Sleep"*************
Jennifer Knapp "Letting Go," Graylin
Jennifer Knapp is back after a seven-year hiatus. She stopped recording and playing big concerts in order
to rethink her relationship with the music industry, which is a step to be commended by lovers of
The Knapp you hear on "Letting Go" is a soulful singer with a powerful voice that is the highlight of her
music. She sings to wailing guitars and rock drums, but it's fun to imagine her singing a cappella, a sign
that she probably puts on a stunning live show. While some songs' arrangements fall into the trap of a
repetitive rock and roll sound, others are uniqueÑand more importantly, Knapp's intense, almost Eddie
Vedder-like vocals make the whole "Letting Go" experience worthwhile.
"SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE" (created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Hey, Soul Sister"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: Reba is one of the great, if not the greatest,
women of country music, who has sold millions of albums. Her lyrics always come
from the heart, and she has created another great Reba album for old fans
as well as new ones.
Caleb Klauder "Dangerous Me's and & Poisonous You's," Hearth
As sassy and sexy as any rugged folk or old-time musician, Caleb Klauder eases your mind with his
bountiful vocal harmonies and skillful mandolin-playing. The rest of the band, which sounds like it could
have come straight out of the great depression era, maintains an upbeat rhythm with bass and honky-tonk
Klauder is inspired by the small, Washington State farm he called home as a child, and passionately
imbues his music with a down-home country feel. Klauder's songwriting, both musically and lyrically,
stands out from today's onslaught of old-time musicians. As he explains, "My songs and my music are
real. Real Stories, real pain, real loveÉ. It's not a clich to me."
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "Why I'm Leaving"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: His political wordplay anticipated rap. As a novelist, poet, and pianist, Scott-Heron achieved an incredible synthesis of laid-back soul music long -- with jazz-fusion, embellishment borrowed from Bitches-Brew - period.
"rla Fallon "Distant Shore," Green Hill/Elevation/EMI
"Distant Shore" is a good example of well-made new-age music. The album is well-produced and has a
healthy mix of slow, tinkling-piano songs and upbeat cuts. Irish singer and harpist "rla Fallon has created
a theme album exploring the idea of distant shores, some near and some far, some comfortable and
others almost inconceivable.
Using Celtic music as a basis, Fallon is not afraid of treading into the realms of country music and
beyond. Her decision to leave the bland and somewhat cloying vocal group Celtic Woman was a good
one. She is now able to experiment a bit and pour her own personality into her songs.
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "All Comedians Suffer"*************
Ray Davies and the Crouch End Festival Chorus "The Kinks Choral Collection," Decca/Universal
The Kinks, a British Invasion rock band that enjoyed a 32-year run, has been reworked and rewound by
its lead singer and main writer, Ray Davies, in beautiful but absolutely peculiar choral arrangements on
this album. "You Really Got Me" and "Victoria" are as familiar as ever as they are sung by a rocking
This album will make you think you've died and joined the Kinks in heaven. It would be fantastic to play
the album during a fancy holiday party, with the Kinks' lyrics ringing clear and in strange harmony with
angelic voices, all topped off by the rugged relief of Ray Davies's own singing. It's always good to see old
artists willing to move in new, interesting and, overall, satisfying directions.
***************If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This******************
******Shelton's Single of the Week: "WORKING MAN'S CAFE"*************
EDITOR'S NOTE: NO ONE CAN WARBLE SADLY ABOUT TWO MISFITS FINDING EACH
OTHER IN THE MIDST OF A LONDON CROWD, AND WANDERING OFF TO SOME SECRET PLACE
WHERE THEY BELONG. IT'S A DREAM ONLY RAY DAVIES COULD REALIZE IN MUSIC, WITH THE
ACHE OF HIS DELICATE VOICE UNDERSCORING HOW FAR OUT OF REACH THE DREAM WAS.
NOBODY SANG ABOUT LONELINESS THE WAY RAY DAVIES DOES.