Mark Rosen Poop 2019


My POOP DISC-CLAIMER (disc-lamer?): In a more perfect world music would be one of many vehicles that could bring about meaningful change. In a less perfect one music might at least provide balm to a troubled world. But amidst the chaos and calamity so pronounced right now in America, music struggles even to be a diversion. I look forward to a time when my music habit can once again consume my attention and I hope even more that I can recognize America once again when I wake up on November 4th.
These are the titles from which I sought and occasionally found some small respite from the events of 2019. New issues, expanded issues and reissues all combined.

Buy OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS – Songs of Our Native Daughters New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
1. OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS – Songs of Our Native Daughters
True story: I bought this CD at my local record shop, popped it in my car and headed about a mile and a half before having to pull off the road to read along with the lyrics and the liner notes. For fifty minutes I sat mesmerized in a parking lot, bowled over by the emotion, the scholarship and the power of these four very talented women as they connected historical dots between slavery, racism and misogyny in America. Seeing them perform this at the Egg in Albany was even more stirring, where I found myself with tears literally streaming down my face at one point; after the song “Mama’s Cryin’ Long” ended, there was a very long five second pause before the audience could even react. Album of the Year. Album of the Last Few Years.

Buy THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS – Easy Way New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
2. THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS – Easy Way
The two brothers who lead the Cactus Blossoms have long been in touch with their inner Everly Brothers. This record includes richer, deeper songs and more textured arrangements than their last record (see my 2017 POOP) and is a perfect blend of retro and metro. Unfortunately it clocks in at 33 minutes and that’s after a three year layoff.

Buy JIMI HENDRIX (and a Band of Gypsys) – Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
3. JIMI HENDRIX (and a Band of Gypsys) – Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts
They are apparently still learning and working through this new material in front of an audience so each performance (that is each of the four shows and each song) is sometimes markedly different from the others. The assaultive “Machine Gun,” for instance, paints an entirely different visual in each show (one of burning cities, another of Vietnam). This is Hendrix relying less on his guitar effects and more on going for a deeper groove. But one dumb album title.

Buy CURT BOETTCHER AND FRIENDS – Looking for the Sun New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon
4. CURT BOETTCHER AND FRIENDS – Looking for the Sun
Boettcher was the king of 60’s California Sunshine Pop and his productions on this various artists compilation are the real stars here, especially since the artists here are occasionally unremarkable. But the lush studio arrangements leave these songs anything but nondescript. At its worst, sunshine pop might be dismissed as cloyingly melodic, bordering on easy listening. But Boettcher elevates these songs and artists into a stratosphere I didn’t quite get as a pimply kid. As a matter of fact, this is the exact antithesis of what I listened to back then, and perhaps that’s part of the attraction. The 36 page booklet provides valuable musical context.

Buy THE LONG RYDERS – Psychedelic Country Soul New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
5. THE LONG RYDERS – Psychedelic Country Soul
The Long Ryders were early purveyors of Americana, and while their songs have never really gone out of style, some of those 80’s production values certainly have. Enter this thoroughly modern-sounding but not dissimilar collection of power country pop.

Buy BOB DYLAN – The Bootleg Series Vol 15: Travelin’ Thru, 1967-1969 New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
6. BOB DYLAN – The Bootleg Series Vol 15: Travelin’ Thru, 1967-1969
John Wesley Harding, as we know it, is so ingrained that the early takes are quite jarring . . . and wonderful for it. Yes, Dylan chose the best takes for the final album, making these early stabs all the more fascinating. The sessions with Dylan and Johnny Cash, featuring two giants checking their egos and just kicking it around, are great fun as well (the Nashville Skyline sessions less so). All in all, a welcome addition to Dylan’s canon from a vital period in his career.

Buy THE REPLACEMENTS – Dead Man’s Pop New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
7. THE REPLACEMENTS – Dead Man’s Pop
1989’s Don’t Tell a Soul, arguably the ‘Mats worst album, is given a new lease on life in this new mix that swaps out the big drums and over-production, revealing some pretty wonderful songs that were hiding in plain sight. This box set also includes a two disc typically reckless concert from the same period.

Buy NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE – Colorado New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
8. NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE – Colorado
Neil and Crazy Horse arrive like old friends who’ve stopped over to bring some comfort food, 47 minutes of it. The usual Neil-sophomoric lyrics are obscured by his crack band, leaving Neil with maybe his best record in a very long time. Keep on rockin’ in the freedom-threatened world.

Buy KJ HOLLAHAN – Two Thousand Miles New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon
9. KJ HOLLAHAN – Two Thousand Miles
I discovered this on my two week vacation to Newfoundland this year. Apparently every town there has artists and groups who self-release CD’s, available at local shops. KJ Hollahan was a crew member on a small boat tour we took; they were playing this over the sound system and hawking it to guests as we got off the boat. Newfoundland music uses traditional Irish instruments and typically deals with drinking, fishing or drinking and fishing.

Buy LANKUM - The Livelong Day New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
10. LANKUM – The Livelong Day
Most traditional Irish music has an underlying (and often barely discernible) drone at its core. Here four Irish musicians and their friends highlight the drone and downplay the traditional notes, offering a challenging take on some old tunes. When I was in Ireland two years ago, my wife noticed how everyone, from kids in their teens to old guys in their eighties, were listening, singing and dancing to the identical music. Not sure they would to this one.

11. V.A. – “MERRY LUXMAS: IT’S CHRISTMAS IN CRAMPSVILLE: SEASON’S GRATINGS FROM THE CRAMPS VINYL BASEMENT
“YULESVILLE!”

Two amazing collections, both providing surveys of how early rockers and R&B-ers made Christmas music their own. The Lux collection leans a little rougher and rawer than “Yulesville!” but lacks the detailed song-by-song notes that the Bear Family comp includes. Sixty-four tracks and hardly any overlap. Hark the herald angels doo-wop, jump and wail.

12. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Western Stars
In a break from the usual arena stuff, Springsteen delivers Jimmy Webb-styled character portraits in a languid new voice, offering big songs about small subjects. I saw the concert film last week (gorgeously shot, by the way) and it definitely helped illuminate this record for me.

13. THE GRIP WEEDS – Trip Around the Sun
The Weeds from Jersey wear their 60’s influences proudly (the Who/the Byrds/psychedelia) and neatly connect the dots between then and now. Actually a 2018 release.

14. V.A. – If You’re Going to the City: A Tribute to Mose Allison
A nice cross-section of artists salute the jazz piano hipster who knew how to turn a phrase while philosophizing on the state of the world.

15. STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES – Guy
I knew virtually nothing about Guy Clark except his reputation. This tribute went a long way toward letting me in on the secret. His brief segment in Ken Burns’ “Country” doc came along at the perfect time to even further pique my interest.

16. THE HIGHWOMEN – The Highwomen
This is a collection of country songs by women and pretty much about women. There’s much here to light a fire under a male dominated idiom, even as the likes of Miranda Lambert, Kasey Musgraves and others manage to dominate critical circles.

17. NRBQ – Turn On Tune In
NRBQ 2.0 is not really the same band from back then but they similarly bring amazing musicianship, sensibility and fun to everything they touch. Recorded live in DC and the wonderfully named Monty Hall at WFMU in Jersey City.

18. WILLIE NELSON – Ride Me Back Home
At 86 Willie may have lost half a step but that puts him in an even better position to offer sage observations on matters of love, politics, his horse and mortality. Earlier this year he was forced to give up his favorite habit, owing to worsening lung issues (his harmonica player Mickey Raphael once said after an old drug bust, “Willie feels great now. He lost seven ounces”). I’m just hoping that his decision to cover Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” is not a symptom of Willie starting to lose his marbles. The rest of this record suggests otherwise. There will be a gaping hole in the fabric of America when Willie finally leaves us.

NOTABLE MUSICAL MOMENTS:
OUR NATIVE DAUGHTERS – Live at the Egg in Albany. It was filmed by the Smithsonian but I’ve not yet been able to locate the results.
Ken Burns’ “Country Music” on PBS – entertaining, informative, important
“Cruel To Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe” – Will Burch’s sweetly told account of a rather interesting career

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