Bob Dylan is playing mostly covers these days. Unlike most rock performers, when he goes out on tour he rarely does more than one or two songs off his latest album (or three or four most recent albums). What he does instead is choose–with varying degrees of creativity from tour to tour and night to […]
Category: Music Review
Lucky Peterson–Lucky Strikes!
LUCKY STRIKES! Lucky Peterson Alligator AL 4770 Despite the renewed mainstream popularity of the blues, aficionados still lament the dearth of the kind of deeply expressive, emotionally taut performances that distinguished the music during its heyday. The litany is familiar: style has won out over substance, spectacle over soul, technique over truth. Especially among young […]
Band out of time: Are the Replacements too late to be rock stars?
The Replacements’ finest moment came on TV—Saturday Night Live in 1986. They were appearing to promote their fourth album, Tim, which was their first for a major label (their previous albums—Hootenanny; Stink; Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash; and Let It Be—were released on an indie label, Twin/Tone, out of their hometown, Minneapolis). […]
Rufus Thomas–That Woman Is Poison!
THAT WOMAN IS POISON! Rufus Thomas Alligator Records AL 4769 Rufus Thomas is the patriarch of Memphis soul music. Although he’s best known to mainstream audiences as the purveyor of such novelty dance numbers as “Walkin’ the Dog” and “The Funky Chicken,” a special respect is due him for his role in keeping the blues […]
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. […]
O Lou of little faith
There are two great figures in American rock ‘n’ roll: Elvis Presley and Lou Reed. Bob Dylan has a catalog that stands with anyone’s in rock ‘n’ roll, but he isn’t a single figure so much as he is a compendium of figures. Elvis and Lou are important because they represent the two poles of […]
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 […]
Wrong place, right time: Dr. John vs the Moulin Rouge
There’s always been something incongruous about Dr. John. In the 1950s he was one of the few white musicians to play an integral part in the explosive New Orleans rhythm-and-blues recording scene. Under his real name, Mac Rebennack, he played piano and guitar on sessions by such greats as Dave Dixon, Huey Smith and the […]
The Shocked Agenda: bringing the revolution back home
Music is like politics in that it is too important to be left to professionals. –Michelle Shocked Why did she have to ruin a great concert with all that political-forum crap? I came here to be entertained. –a dissatisfied concertgoer Those who would allow no forum for fools to spread inane ideas are themselves the […]
Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead—Dylan & the Dead
Bill Wyman reviews the 1989 live album.
A celebration of sex
The lounge at the East of the Ryan Motel on 79th Street is not what you’d expect from a nightclub with a reputation for elegance and sophistication. The ceiling is low, the wooden walls mostly unadorned. Customers sit at long, cafeteria-style tables. Despite a few sparkling chandeliers, which add a touch of class to the […]
Robert Covington–The Golden Voice of Robert Covington
THE GOLDEN VOICE OF ROBERT COVINGTON Robert Covington Red Beans/RB-012 Most Chicago blues fans know Robert Covington as the energetic shuffle drummer who lays down the foundation for the Sunnyland Slim Blues Band. As Sunnyland’s percussionist, Covington gets the chance to sing two or three songs a set. His affable nature and resonant voice have […]
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 […]
Traveling Wilburys–Volume One
TRAVELING WILBURYS VOLUME ONE Traveling Wilburys Wilbury Records 25796-1 There was a time when the rock ‘n’ roll super session seemed almost meaningful. Clapton and Winwood–together! Beck and Stewart and Truth! Crosby and Stills and Nash and Young! It was thought that opposites–John and Paul-style–could somehow attract, calm each other’s excesses, and produce good music. […]
Ho and Hum: Is success spoiling U2?
To every garage band, basement jammer, and Stratocaster-copy basher in America, U2 must be the Dream personified. With scant, almost minimal musical resources, vocalist “Bono,” bassist Adam Clayton, drummer Larry Mullen, and guitarist “The Edge” have carved out a solid and distinct artistic identity, a huge international audience, and a critical reputation as the band […]