Quantcast
Advertisement
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)

CROSSCURRENTS, PART THREE
The Motown story (3/22a)
SONG REVENUE CHART: "RING" IN THE IDES OF MARCH
The full Monte yet again. (3/22a)
NOT IN HITS LIST
We use only the highest-quality click bait. (3/22a)
COLUMBIA SPRINGS THE COUNTRY TRAP
A whole new wrinkle (3/22a)
THE ROOTS OF ROCK & SOUL, SONG BY SONG: THE LATE ’50S
The saga continues. (3/22a)
THE NEXT RECORDING ACADEMY HEAD IS...
(The envelope, please.)
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT MARKETSHARE
But it is, really. Isn't it?
WHAT IF I DON'T STREAM?
First of all, don't panic.
WHO ORDERED THIS PIZZA?
Seriously, come get it now or we're eating it.
Critics' Choice
GARY CLARK JR. MAKES LAND
2/14/19

Full disclosure: While I’ve long admired Gary Clark, Jr. as a player, singer and writer—with the chops to handle blues, soul, rock and pop, no question—never before, apart from the occasional hair-raising guitar lick, has he startled me.

Until now.

Clark’s new Warner Bros. Records set, This Land (due 2/22, following a 2/16 SNL appearance), is something new. The man’s prolific gifts are now attached to material with a far greater purpose than ever before. The material is in large part overtly political, full of fury and defiance and sorrow, befitting a time when our chief executive is an overtly racist charlatan. But it’s delivered with an explosive confidence and joy, with singalong choruses, blazing electric leads and a riot of bubbling grooves.

In short, it’s the great rock and roll record you’ve been waiting for.

Witness the big synth buzz that kicks off  opener and lead single “This Land,” giving way to wailing wah-wah and a barbed-wire litany of tensions and injustices: “Fuck you, I’m America, son/This is where I come from.” Now check out “What About Us,” with its ironic “there goes the neighborhood refrain” and shards of molten riffage. Or “I Got My Eyes on Me,” which rekindles the honeyed soul vibes of Marvin and Stevie in the verses before uncorking a monster rock chorus. On “Feeling Like a Million” and the instrumental excursion “Highway 71,” Clark manages to lace up reggae/dub and Hendrix-y bends in a way that feels fresh. “Gotta Get Into Something” has a bracing vintage-punk tempo that suggests Bad Brains rampaging through a Chuck Berry fever dream. The horn-driven “Feed the Babies” is a “Mercy Mercy Me” for the present moment, with a “Trouble Man” strut. He channels Prince through both his voice and his fingers on the stomping, heart-baring soul of “Pearl Cadillac.” There’s a Temptations glow to the stutter-step singalong “When I’m Gone.”

It seems no corner of the musical universe exceeds Clark’s grasp, and each eclectic element reinforces a humanistic, yearning, raging, hopeful, disgusted, insistent perspective—in other words, exactly what our daily crisis demands.

Not that Clark has abandoned the blues. The acoustic “The Governor,” replete with saucy slide, is both authoritative and tongue-in-cheek; closing cut “Dirty Dishes Blues” brings This Land back down to earth—with a Delta-style lament that plays like a nod to fellow Texan Albert Colins’ “Too Many Dirty Dishes.”

Of course, Clark remains one of the premier guitarists of his generation, and the array of miracles he can conjure from his axe—whether it’s screaming or swooning—is as central to his mystique as ever.

Will a record this full of purpose and guitar cut through the noise? I haven’t the faintest idea. But I know it’ll give a lot of hope and inspiration to rock fans.

KIRK FRANKLIN'S "THEORY"
PROVES SOUND
1/27/19

 Gospel music is the wellspring that helped feed such secular tributaries as soul, R&B, rock and pop—yet it rarely makes the mainstream in unadulterated form. Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day,” a few cuts from the Staples Singers, Aretha’s roof-raising church songs and, more recently, the soaring devotional pop of Lauren Daigle are more the exceptions than the rule. But for 25+ years, Kirk Franklin, arguably the form’s most influential contemporary figure, has maintained an avid following among the faithful and respect in the secular world with his finely wrought, irresistibly funky bursts of gospel goodness.

Which is how he’s earned 12 Grammys, nine NAACP Image Awards and many other earthly laurels (including 43 Stellar Awards from the gospel community). As an executive and producer/impresario, he's developed his own Fo Yo Soul label and collaborated with Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, Ledisi and Tori Kelly, among others. He’s also worked with Live Nation Urban to produce the Exodus Music & Artist Festival, which he’ll host and headline on 5/26.

Today’s sermon is “Love Theory” (RCA Inspiration), now impacting gospel and Urban AC radio. The track crystallizes the man’s considerable skills in crafting big, choir-sung hooks and silky grooves, and the video, featured below, demonstrates his fiery ministerial charisma. Even if you don’t have a religious bone in your body, we think you’re gonna feel it.

Franklin is now finishing up his next studio set (his 13th); he’ll perform on BET’s 20th Super Bowl Gospel Celebration on 2/2 and will host the Stellar Gospel Music Awards on 3/29.

UMe REVISITS ZAPPA'S '76 NYC TRIP
1/25/19

Starting in 1974 and continuing into the early 1980s, Halloween in New York meant a visit from Frank Zappa and his revolving collection of astoundingly talented cohorts. His concerts at The Palladium  were legendary—comical, theatrical, outrageous and, of course, outstandingly musical—and word of mouth alone made tickets to each year’s runs highly coveted.

In 1976, he opted to switch up holidays and pushed his NYC run to four nights between Christmas and New Year's Eve after performing on Saturday Night Live on 12/11. (The week of Halloween he was in Philly appearing on The Mike Douglas Show to promote the release of Zoot Allures.) 

Hits were not the draw at the time: All of his Palladium runs pre-dated “Valley Girl” and most of the shows came before his disco ditty “Dancing Fool” had anti-dance crowd singing “I may be totally wrong but I’m a fool.”

During his lifetime, Frank died in 1993, only one of the Palladium sets was ever released, Zappa In New York, culled from the 1976 shows and released in 1978 after censors blocked its release due to “Punky’s Whips.” 

Zappa Records/UMe is revisiting those 1976 shows with a suite of expanded anniversary editions of Zappa In New York that will be released 3/29.

The expanded versions will be available as a five-CD box set, triple LP set and digitally. The five-disc collection will be housed in a limited-edition metal tin shaped like a NYC street manhole cover and includes a replica ticket from one of the shows. The four additional discs are loaded with relevant vault nuggets and more than three hours of unreleased live performances from the Palladium concerts.

Frank’s band at the time comprised Ray White on vocals and guitar, Terry Bozzio on drums and vocals, Eddie Jobson on keyboard, Ruth Underwood on percussion and synthesizer, Patrick O’Hearn on bass and vocals and David Samuels on timpani and vibes.  The brass section featured Randy Brecker on trumpet and Michael Brecker on tenor saxophone, Lou Marini on alto sax, Ronnie Cuber on baritone sax and Tom Malone on trombone. The sets included such faves as “Dinah-Moe Humm,” “The Purple Lagoon,” and “Cruisin’ For Burgers.”

The Zappa In New York 40th anniversary editions are available for pre-order now and all digital pre-orders will receive an instant grat download of the unreleased rarity “The Purple Lagoon/Any Kind of Pain.”