PICK OF THE WEEK
Leo Ferre. “En Public Au TLP Dejazet” (EPM Musique, 1988) I really have no idea why I bought this exquisite 2-CD set – except for the striking cover photograph of an older, balding, gray-haired man holding his head in his hands as he stands alone in the spotlight. So despite the fact that I’d never heard Ferre – or even heard of him – I purchased the album, and I’m thrilled that I did. On this 33-song live recording from 1988, Ferre sings in French, and for the most part I have no idea what he’s singing about, but I remain entranced. Stylistically, he cuts a wide swath from jazz to music hall, from classical to cabaret music – laced with the strong vein of melancholy. It lands somewhere near the camps of the Belgian great Jacques Brel and Italian iconoclast Paulo Conte.
Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. “The Complete Reprise Recordings” (Concord, 2010) Cool music for a heatwave. Summer personified.
Rickie Lee Jones. “Pop Pop” (Geffen, 1991) Her version of the Airplane’s “Comin’ Back to Me” is simply heartbreaking.
The Ike Reilly Assassination. “Sparkle In The Finish” (Rock Ridge Music, 2004). With a huge smile on my face, I watched these guys deliver a great, heart-on-sleeve, rafter-rattling, beer-soaked rock show at Valentine’s just last month in front of an embarrassingly small crowd. I needed to refresh my spirit with this disc – but then much to my delight, I discovered that they’re heading back to Valentine’s on Thursday, August 5 – just before they hit the stage at Lollapalooza. What luck.
Zap Mama. “ReCreation” (Heads Up, 2009) I like the earlier, strictly a cappella Zap Mama better, but Zaire-born leader Marie Daulne and her sister singers still make some pretty intriguing music these days – even with instruments.
Harry Nilsson. “Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology” (RCA, 1994) A delicious 2-CD compilation of some of the best work by the under-appreciated popster.
Tommy James & the Shondells. “Travelin‘” (Collectors’ Choice Music, 2010) A new re-issue of TJ&S 1970 swansong LP shows the band stretching way out from their bubblegum pop roots, as they embrace psychedelia, gritty rockers and straight-up blues.
Joni Mitchell. “Court And Spark” (1974, Asylum) Bummed that I was missing John Kelly’s Joni tribute show at Bard College last weekend, I decided to go right to the source. I almost always reach for “Hejira,” but this time I decided to go back a little farther.
Ry Cooder. “My Name Is Buddy” (Nonesuch, 2007) A concept album/cautionary tale told by Buddy Red Cat, Lefty Mouse and others. Something akin to a folk-rock musical relative to Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”
Tindersticks. “Waiting For The Moon” (Beggars Banquet, 2003) I am sooooo in love with Stuart Staples’ voice – breathy and bluesy at the same time, something like those first couple of Tim Hardin albums on Verve/Forecast.