Thursday, March 19, 2009

it's still no "Chocktaw Bingo"

James McMutry - Where'd You Hide the Body (listen) I made this contribution to the chat-mosphere* yesterday

and was immediately pointed to Mr. McMurtry's 1995 album Where'd You Hide the Body? for reconsideration of my position. So OK, maybe he has more than one song, "Levelland" is nonstop epic

but the album as a whole strikes me the way many singer-songwriter albums do - too much ornamentation blotting out the songs. It's a delicate balance; there is only so much one-man-and-a-guitar that a body can listen to (I guess, I can listen to a lot) but the artists who excel at this tend to lay it on too thick or don't stop a well meaning producer from doing so. This album is good though, reminding me of one of Lou Reed's finest (and equally overwrought) solo moments.
Lou Reed - Magic and Loss (listen) Lou Reed's meditation on having two friends die from cancer in the course of a year lies relatively unheralded among his more salacious recordings, but I love this record. Listening to it now, I think it might even be better than New York, which I've long held as his solo nadir. The songs are nakedly about his anger at a disease, with a defiant optimism borne aloft by an ever-present rage kept mostly in check, which I guess is the only way you can deal with things like cancer. Worth tangential exploration thanks to this record is the singular vocalist Little Jimmy Scott, who offers startling backup vocals on "Power and Glory"

"Sword of Damocles" almost blows it with Reed's drug swagger, but the song as a whole always gets me. About chemo: to kill you they must kill you - it captures that futility one feels fighting something unfightable

oh man, and this song too! the cold black sea, it waits for me.

OK, I guess this is my favorite Lou Reed album.
Paul McCartney - Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (lala) I'm not the world's biggest Paul McCartney fan in the world, but this little undersung record of his is rather charming, largely lacking the hokeyness that, for me, undercuts a lot of his solo material. Producer Nicgel Goodrich, who shaped Radiohead for OK Computer and Pavement for Terror Twilight, might be just the thing he needed, what all geniuses need - a good editor. Or maybe he listened to decades of XTC perfecting his own sound and decided to see if he could come up with something on par.

* I call chat-mosphere if it hasn't been coined already

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