PICK OF THE WEEK
The Ed Palermo Big Band. “Eddy Loves Frank” (Cuneiform, 2009) What’s this? Yet another big band tribute to Frank Sinatra? Au contraire. Eddy loves Frank Zappa, and this 17-piece big band blows hot ‘n’ heavy on nuggets like “Let’s Move to Cleveland,” “Regyptian Strut” and “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing.” Nippertown jazz men Cliff Lyons (alto sax) and John Hines (trumpet) are both onboard, and they fire up a couple of mean, wailing solos on “Echidna’s Arf (Of You).”
This Mortal Coil. “Filigree & Shadow” (4AD, 1986) I watched “The Lovely Bones” – very disappointing. The best thing was the soundtrack – lots of Brian Eno and This Mortal Coil’s haunting rendition of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” which reminded me just how much I like TMC. On this album, they crawl through a couple of other Buckley gems – “Morning Glory” and “I Must Have Been Blind” – as well as a bunch of other great lush, dark nuggets from Gene Clark, Pearls Before Swine, Judy Collins, Colin Newman, Van Morrison and others.
Johnny Griffin and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. “Pisces” (Original Jazz Classics/Riverside, 2004) Two tough tenor saxmen get tender on an album of ballads. Somebody thought this wasn’t a very good idea – the album was recorded in 1962, but not released til 2004 – but it sure sounds sweet to me.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of ‘Repo: The Genetic Opera'” (Lionsgate, 2008) Like all good opera, this is totally over the top, but no, this isn’t the musical version of “Repo Man.” Rather, it’s a kind of futuristic rock opera – “Rocky Horror” meets “Bladerunner,” although musically speaking it’s closer to a punked-up “Jesus Christ Superstar” with such songs as “We Started This Op’ra Shit” and “Can’t Get It Up If the Girl’s Breathing?” And what a wild cast – Ogre (of Skinny Puppy), Paul Sorvino, Sarah Brightman and, yes, even Paris Hilton. OK, I’m putting the film in my Netflix queue right now…
Christina Kubisch. “Dreaming of a Major Third: A composition for the Clocktower of MASS MoCA” (Edition RZ, 1997) Kubish recorded the bells of the museum’s clocktower, shifted the pitches and re-shaped the attack of the notes to create a thoroughly dream-inducing ambient swirl of hypnotic sound.
Ola Belle Reed. “Rising Sun Melodies” (Smithsonian Folkways, 2010) Playing banjo or guitar, Reed sings these 19 songs – eight of them previously unreleased – straight from the heart, unadorned. This album is so stark, so undeniably honest that it seems impossible that it was recorded in the ’70s. This is ancient – and timeless – Appalachian mountain music.
What Bird. “Good Night, Good Riddance” (WhatBirdMusic.com, 2008) This Nashville-based duo of vocalist-guitarist Julia Harrison and bassist-percussionist Winston Harrison sport a nifty, somewhat dark-hued indie pop sound on this debut album. Strong original tunes and a cover of the Church’s “Under the Milky Way.” Julia Harrison’s voice fits somewhere between Karla Bonoff and Maia Sharp.
Todd Rundgren. “The Very Best of Todd Rundgren” (Rhino, 1997) If you didn’t already know what big ears and far-reaching musical tastes Rundgren possesses, you’d find it impossible to believe that the guy represented by this career-encompassing 16-track hits collection has just released an album tribute to blues legend Robert Johnson.
Fayssoux. “Early” (Red Beet, 2008) This is an exceptionally sweet, no-frills, deceptively simple country album. Fayssoux McLean can be heard singing harmony and duets all over the early Emmylou Harris albums. She left the music biz and became a teacher. This is her long-overdue debut, and it’s a thing of unadorned grace and beauty. With Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, the Whites, Lloyd Green and more.
Fats Domino. “They Call Me the Fat Man: The Legendary Imperial Recordings” (EMI, 1991) Four discs. 100 songs. A wealth of great sounds from the great New Orleans R&B piano man spanning 1949-1962. Oooow-weee…