Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I, Flathead

Well, the new album is out.  I, Flathead has received rave reviews.  What do I think?  Well, it is a rockin' good time.  Do I like it as well as Chavez Ravine, or My Name Is Buddy?  Not yet, but it has been slowly growing on me as it seeps into my consciousness.  I play it in the car, and I have to say it makes for some fine driving music.  A little John Hiatt, a little Eric Clapton, and then I, Flathead cranked up loud with the sunroof open.  I love the sound, open and raw.  Ry's guitar work is so beautiful.  Maybe I would wish for a bit more slide, but I like his rhythm playing too, and the way so much is going on, but it sounds so...simple.  More as it develops...

Just read the new Janis Ian biography, Society's Child and I can't believe what a compelling read it was.  She's had quite a life, filled with tragedy, and yet she comes across as positive, hopeful and joyous.  It arrived with a 2-disc best of called The Autobiography Collection which is arranged in the order of the chapters in the book (each chapter is named after a song) and taken together with the book it gave me a new appreciation for her body of work. 

I saw Jakob Dylan on the Jay Leno show and got a copy of his new solo album.  He's not his father but there's definitely something there.  Another Rick Rubin stripped-down affair, but the songs hold up for the most part, and I've kept going back to it, so...that's a plus.  Then there's the 2-disc retrospective of the career of Arthur Brown...that's right...the God of Hell-Fire!  That first album was his peak...but he's done some interesting things since, and by condensing them all down to 2-discs you get the best.  Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue has been re-issued on CD, in a deluxe package with out-takes and a 2nd disc featuring the unreleased followup album Bambu.  When POB first came out Dennis signed copies of it at the CNE.  My wife took a few pictures and if I can find one or two I'll post them.  One of the great lost albums, it's tremendous to have it available...even though I had managed to supplement my vinyl copy with the first CD release a few years ago...having the expanded edition is great.  Who would've thought that Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis would blend so well together?  Two Men With the Blues is a joy from start to finish.  Don't miss it!  Biggest disappointment of the summer?  Ron Sexsmith's Exit Strategy of the Soul.  What a yawner!  Too  much piano, not enough guitar, and the horns??? Come on Ron!

I read James Lee Burke's Swan Peak and I always enjoy the adventures of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell.  There's a real sense of place about them.  This time they're in Montana, away from Louisiana, and the new geography adds a different flavour to the story.  Some of Burke's tales are better than others, but this one's a dandy.  

That's it for now.  Two more Rylanders almost ready for printing.  Gotta see The Dark Knight this week.  And I'm looking forward to The Watchmen...due in March!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

after a long absence...

Good Morning!  I know Lester Bilbo will be happy to see that I'm making an appearance.  Things have been crazy around here.  I presented at CNIE conf. 2008 in Banff that last week of April. Then a couple of days meeting at the U.of Calgary with OUETD.  A short holiday in Red Deer with my brother and his wife.  Saw Drumheller, and the hoodoos, and a lot of other stuff.  Back home in time for my wife to have bilateral knee replacements.  Now 8 weeks later she's doing very well. Walking without a cane, straight legs!  Fantastic!  And then a trip to Las Vegas for infoComm '08! Cirque du Soleil's KA was spellbinding!  In the meantime a ton of great music has been released. While in Calgary I got a copy of Tom Phillips Downtown Cowboy, Albertan country singer; Tom Petty's Mudcrutch (the resurrection of his old band) which is lots of fun.  Found a copy of Ersi Arvizu's Friend For Life produced by Ry Cooder (not as immediately great as Mavis Staples, but an excellent album nonetheless), and Elvis Costello's Momofuku (which hasn't grown on me yet.)  T Bone Burnett's Tooth of Crime is just too weird for me, I think I'm finished testing his solo records...while his productions just get better and better!  Bill Frisell's history, mystery was a disappointment too, not enough guitar on it, too much band for my taste.  Not that it's bad...on the contrary...but it wasn't the Frisell album I was hoping for.  Other purchases?  Tony Joe White (who played at HCI one Friday night when I was in grade 13), John Hiatt, Sonny Landreth, Bette Midler's greatest hits (excellent), Eliza Gilkyson's Beautiful World (she's fantastic), Paul Weller, Walter Becker, Solomon Burke, and Ry Cooder's I, Flathead (the deluxe edition).  By the time I finish listening to all this...it'll be August.  Saw Steely Dan on the weekend at Casino Rama.  They were precise, and tight, and their guitarist is fantastic.  Great show.