Mike Jurkovic Poop 05

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John Prine – Fair and Square
After nine long years, Prine returns stronger than ever. Bush bash song of the year ‘Some Humans Ain’t Human’. Even his July appearance at The Palace was primo Prine.



 


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The Kennedys – Half a Million Miles
Nary a year goes by without Pete and Maura on my list du POop. High harmonies, sparkling folk pop and ‘Namaste’. I daresay it won’t get much better, given the current musical clime.



 


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Bob Dylan – No Direction Home
And do I daresay that as long as they raid the vaults and/or his Bobness keeps on keepin’ on there’s going to be a Dylan disc on my POooPy list year after glorious year. Don’t be cheap: get both the DVD and CD sets



 


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Sons of The Never Wrong – The Nuthatch Suite
That nuthatches have the rare ability in the bird world to climb down trees headfirst is all you need to know to fully appreciate this innovative and inventive trio of Chi-town songwriters and humorists. Kind of like The Roaches meet the Manhattan Transfer while listening to Newman and Prine on a shuttle betwixt Twin Peaks and Gerdes Folk City.



 


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Maria Muldaur – Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul
Had Muldaur only recorded J.C. Johnson’s erotic ‘Empty Bed Blues’ (forever an Xplicit staple of Empress Bessie herself) ‘Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul’ would be worth the price of admission . That she includes eleven other haunted Highway 61 mileposts, notably ‘Ain’t What You Used To Have’, ‘Decent Woman Blues’, ‘Tricks Ain’t Walkin’, and ‘Take A Stand’ places this firmly into must-hear land.



 


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Rodney Crowell – The Outsider
Arguably the lesser of his recent resurgent recordings (‘The Houston Kid’, ‘Fate’s Right Hand’) ‘The Outsider’ still packs a full fisted wallop. ‘Beautiful Despair’, ‘Don’t Get Me Started’, and ‘Say You Love Me’ are my faves, though I still hold to the unpopular notion the Emmylou duet on ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ doesn’t live up to anyone’s expectations. Guess I’ll take that one up with my therapist.



 


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Paul McCartney – Chaos and Creation In The Backyard
I can’t tell you how many Macca-philes heaved a sigh of relief upon hearing this. Mac’s strongest since ‘Flaming Pie’ and before that, ‘Flowers In The Dirt’.



 


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Kate Bush – Aerial
So what if after 12 years she’s singing about doing the laundry and imitating bird calls? This is Kate, man Giving color to every moment, creating a 2 disc Zen suite that lends our attention rest and re-assurance.



 


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The Band – A Musical History
Though it makes no mention of their work with John Hammond Jr .(1965 – ’67) and could have included a few more rarer basement tapes and live tracks, this set is a beautifully packaged and inspiring motherload



 


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Bruce Springsteen – Devils and Dust & Born To Run; 30th Anniversary Box Set
Though I was practically brow-beaten by Fino and other long timers into believing ‘D&D’ a great disc, I still think it’s mostly B stuff compared to ‘Joad’ and ‘Nebraska’. I did feel these songs would be more compelling live, and was proven correct (aren’t I always?) by the bootlegs and 2 shows I saw (Albany & Continental Airways). Still, any disc with ‘Maria’s Bed’, ‘Leah’, ‘The Hitter’ and the transcendent ‘Matamoros Banks’ ain’t nothing to sneeze at or bitch about. I may be of the heretical mind that with the flexibility, nuance, and virtuosity of his solo shows E Street becomes irrelevant, but BTR is why they rose to such legend. We know the power and consequence of the music so it’s the Hammersmith Odeon ’75 DVD that’s the monster rush. The making of ‘Wings For Wheels’, though at times a tad too sanctimonious, is a treat for long timers and newbies both.



 


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Eldar Djangirov – Eldar
Many cringe when I bring up jazz but Djangirov, only 18 and echoing Bill Evans is a sure thing. There’s
too much feel, bounce and flourish in this guy’s brain to hand coordination to be just flash. Accompanied by Brecker, Pattitucci and Todd Strait, Eldar composes and plays with an elder’s insight.



 


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Thelnious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane – At Carnegie Hall
Coltrane figures heavily in two truly archival finds of 2005. This one, from a lost Voice of America 1957 broadcast, could be the peak recording of their brief, 9 month collab. Free of junk, booze and weeks away from rejoining Miles, Trane blows concise and clean, with a newfound economical harmony he would eventually trade for the sheets of sound. Monk is pure Monk, playing what he hears his iconic way, while bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik and drummer Shadow Wilson envelope these two unique forces of nature.



 


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The John Coltrane Quartet – One Up, One Down: Live At The Half Note
Culled from private recordings and cleaned up from the bootlegs, Coltrane, Tyner, Jones and Garrison in 1965 at the peak of their improvisational form. There is simply nothing else on Earth like the title track.



 


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Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders Band – Keystone Berkley, 9/1/74
Though it may not be the jazzy ensemble it’s billed as (could Jerry ever be locked into one groove for too long?) this thoroughly smokin’ 3fer has plenty of tight jamming. There’s been a shitload of Garcia released this year but here’s the keeper.



 


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The Lady Disappoints: Bonnie Raitt – Souls Alike
Just once before I die I hope Bonnie gives up the VH1 mantle and lets her hair down again and records the blues like she used to. One hell of a show at The Palace in October though.


Honorable Mention:
Jude Johnstone – On A Good Day
Jackson Browne – Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1
Neil Young – Prairie Wind
oh yeah and you gotta see ‘Walk The Line’

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