Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Recent Music Discoveries

Finally, finally, finally Los Lobos has released a greatest hits set worthy of their talent and career.

Wolf Tracks, Best of Los Lobos doth rock. It doth roll as well.

There are a couple of their early hits which are traditional Mexican music, though they still swing since Los Lobos is the band playing. And there's the oddity "Kiko and the Lavender Moon" that if it was ever truly a hit anywhere, I'd be surprised. The only interesting thing about the song is it's largely performed on an Optigan, and it sounds like it. (We had one of those monstrosities in my house growing up, and I actually could drone out a few songs on it.)

Other than that, it's a great rock and roll album. Were we back in the days when good compilations like the Eagles Greatest Hits and Elton Johns Greatest hits would dominate the charts forever, this album would join that pantheon.

This baby's about 2 year old now, so I'm a bit behind the curve, but Collective Soul's Youth is a solid offering. Not a bad tune on it. "Better Now" is probably one of the best songs they've recorded thus far.

For folks who haven't heard them (or haven't realized they've heard them - they had a bunch of hits back in the days of radio), they're the kind of tuneful, slightly bombastic rock that drives most music critics bugfuck. Which means most music lovers dig them.

You pair this with their greatest hits and their first album, you've got yourself a great set of songs.

To me, the Indigo Girls albums can be spotty. They usually have two or three great songs and the rest are forgettable. (Of course, rabid fans of theirs would disagree with me, I'm sure.) Even their hits compilation, Retrospective, doesn't really capture all their really good songs. I hope that in the future, they release an anthology that captures the hits and the great songs that didn't chart. (If anyone who's involved in that read this, please make sure "Peace Tonight" is on there.)

Well, for once, one of their discs is solid all the way through. Despite Our Differences is a nice set of songs. Swear to God, Emily Saliers has one of the most beautiful voices ever, imvho.

Standouts are: I Believe In Love, Fly Away (not the old John Denver, Olivia Neutron Bomb song), Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate, and Little Perennials.

This is not a CD recommendation, because I'm sure you already have some CD with Dave Brubeck Quartet's “Take Five” on it.

Stylus Magazine, who provide online music and movies reviews, have a list going this week of their favorite one hit wonders. (Most of their criticism is in the useless, snotty vein that pretty much all popular music criticism has decayed to.) But, in amongst the list of one hit wonders was this little trivia nugget:

39. Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Take Five”
A little-known fact: "Take Five" was not composed by pianist Dave Brubeck, but rather by saxophonist Paul Desmond. Following the song's massive success, Desmond went out to start his own group, and fearing that he would use the sonic blueprint of "Take Five" to great future success, Brubeck contractually prohibited him from using a piano in any of his future musical endeavors. As a result, "Take Five" was forever relegated to one-hit wonder status, best remembered (and wrongfully accredited to Brubeck) for the title's clever nod to its time signature. It should instead be treasured as the finest indication of Desmond's possibilities, whose sax had the slink of a Cheshire cat, the gliding ease of a seagull, and the voguish symmetry of a dry martini.
[Tal Rosenberg]

What a kick in the nards, eh? Makes me revise my mental image of Brubeck as a sweet, but somewhat square jazzguy.


Whisky Prajer said...

Re: Brubeck, it sounds like he learned the wrong lessons from Miles Davis.

Yahmdallah said...

I hadn't made that connection, but I bet you're right!

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Los Lobos! I'll have to check out this new collection album; "Just Another Band From East L.A.," their previous collection of hits and singles, included "Kiko," and I'm not interested if there's too much overlap.

If you like their "traditional Mexican" (more accurately Conjunto (if you're north of the border) or Norteno (if you're south of the border), have you listened to their old album La Pistola y El Corazon? My Mexican-American friends in college made fun of the Lobos for their intense Angeleno accents (e.g. pronouncing "g" as a hard "k" instead of closer to "h" the way a Mexican would), but frankly I can understand north-of-the-border Spanish a lot better than good Mexican Spanish, and I like being able to understand most of their songs. 'Cause they're great to sing along with. Los besos que me diste mi amor, son los que mestan secando....

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

"matando" not "secando" in that last line of course. And I'm sure plenty of spelling errors.

Yahmdallah said...

Here's the overlap from that previous collection (which I have too), asterisks mark songs on both:

Come On, Let's Go*
Corrido #1
Don't Worry Baby*
Good Morning Aztlan
Jenny's Got A Pony
Kiko and the Lavender Moon*
La Bamba*
La Pistola Y El Corazon*
Let's Say Goodnight*
Matter of Time*
Oh Yeah
One Time One Night*
Set Me Free (Rosa Lee)*
Shakin' Shakin' Shakes*
That Train Don't Stop Here
Volver, Volver (Live, 1987)*
Will the Wolf Survive?*

Thing is, I also judge an album by how it holds together as something I'd put and walk away from and just let play. "Just Another Band from East L.A." is nice in it's completeness, but it's just been not something I'd put on and play without programming the songs I want to hear. This new set is a great unit unto itself. And it's remastered, btw.

I have heard "La Pistola Y El Corazon" but didn't re-buy it in CD. I like Los Lobos' rockers interspersed with their "Conjunto."