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Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper

Guy from a paper in Phoenix wanted a picture of Mojo Nixon wearing a T-shirt from the music conference we were attending in Austin. Mojo, sweaty and drained after a typically hellacious set on a sweltering Texas night, agreed to pose. I was conned out of my shirt. The picture was taken, and everyone was […]

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The Proclaimers–Sunshine on Leith

SUNSHINE ON LEITH The Proclaimers Chrysalis FV41668 I’m not prone to racism, but the first time I got a glimpse of the Proclaimers I indulged in a riot of it. A colleague–one of these pointy-headed, British Simon Frith sociologist types–had said something about a pair of folkie Scotch twins who reminded him of Billy Bragg. […]

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Reivers

The Reivers’ sound is a heavenly melange of open-chorded guitars, soaring melodies, and the incongruous harmonies of songwriter John Croslin and singer Kim Longacre. Croslin’s voice is a friendly instrument, but it’s rough and low-pitched. Longacre’s, however, is a dreamy, soaring wonder. Together they’re a heady mix that shouldn’t work but does. The Reivers’ new […]

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Dylan and the Dead

To the editors: Please let Bill Wyman [Records, March 17] know– (1) Bob Dylan’s Real Live was recorded in Europe; not Japan, (2) Dylan did perform “Silvio” last summer at Poplar Creek, (3) Dylan has won another Grammy–yes, this might be quibbling–for liner notes for a Peter, Paul and Mary album, (4) Down in the […]

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Randy Newman

Call him the Sixth Wilbury: like a whole bunch of graying rockers, Randy Newman has had a career revivification courtesy of former Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne, whose sprightly production gave much of Newman’s latest album, Land of Dreams, its oomph. But it must have been hard for Newman, who ten years ago reamed […]

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Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams’s third record (called Lucinda Williams) is a charmer, released on Rough Trade, of all labels. She’s a country gal unapologetically, and if her record, production-wise, is a melange of messy 70s influences (particularly Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt), she overwhelms them with a wary integrity and an eye for the perfect lyric. “These […]

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Elvis Costello–Spike

SPIKE Elvis Costello Warner Bros. 9 25848-1 “I wish you’d known me when I was alive,” croons Elvis Costello, with a studied dissolution, on his new LP, Spike. He’s referring, obliquely, to his celebrated death-and-rebirth dog and pony show of three years ago: After a ten-year career of almost unrelieved caustic energy, the onetime London […]

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Go-Betweens

Critics have been creaming their jeans over the Go-Betweens for nearly ten years. The Australian combo is led by songwriters Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, who took their name (one assumes) from Joseph Losey’s moody, heavily symbolic movie. The pair have dispensed with the moodiness in favor of an ever-more-crystalline pop production, but they’ve retained […]

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Michelle Shocked

A straightforward folk song like “Anchorage” might lead one to think that an evening with Michelle Shocked would be quiet and tasteful. But “Anchorage” isn’t straightforward: it’s a complex, brutal, defiant, and ultimately uplifting triumph of a song, and while, yes, its singer and composer is a folksinger, she’s also something of an anarchist. (Her […]

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Year of the void: 1988’s greatest hits

Nineteen eighty-eight was devoid of any overarching theme, trend, or happening, rockwise; the vacuum itself has to be seen as the year’s big news. We did have a sales winner: George Michael, whose solo debut, Faith, and its five singles gave him the biggest blanket on the Billboard year-end charts to be seen in nearly […]