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an ear full

  Music reviews by  Nat  Lathy


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Gene Autry-All American Country (2005, SONY BMG) 10/10

Posted by nlathy on April 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Talking about Autry isn't going to win you plaudits from all circles. 

I used to dismiss the "singing cowboy" myself. But the movies are enjoyable in large part due to the songs. 

And this album is a delight throughout the 10 tracks. There are a number of standards he gives his own style to. 

Fats Domino did perform the definitive "Blueberry Hill." But Autry's version is wonderful, as well. 

You can have your Mills Brothers, but Gene is just fine on "Someday You'll Want Me to Want You." 

His voice has command of these songs. There's a less is more quality to the instrumentation, which makes his songs essential. 

2014 it's rolling along

Posted by nlathy on February 21, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm anxious to see what kind of music dazzles me this year. So far, I can just enjoy the older music.

Last year had its share of good music. No albums I've heard have thrilled me beyond belief, but I've heard some good cuts.

Albums by Mogwai and Cymbals have had their moments. But l'm waitng for better LPs to come along.

For now, I can enjoy the older music. The Beatles continue to dazzle after all these years. I still think the band was best through 1965.

The best music ages just fine.

John Coltrane: One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note (Verve, 2005) 10/10

Posted by nlathy on February 1, 2014 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

There have been critiques of the recording quality. I'm not losing any sleep over it.

I'll just enjoy the sax playing. It's hard to quibble when 27:00 tracks (the title cut and "My Favorite Things") continue to captivate me.

There was a time when you could dine and listen to great jazz. You still can dine and groove at the Half Note, but there's no Coltrane playing there anymore. On this disc, you're taken there, and the sax solos do the rest. And Elvin Jones' drumming adds to the excitement.

This is the best way to hear McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison, too.

Coltrane vs. Monk

Posted by nlathy on January 17, 2014 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

OK, I'm really not trying to start a rivalry, but I have started reading book about John Coltrane, Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, by Ben Ratliff.

Maybe, it won't change my preference for Thelonious Monk, but it's all interesting reading. Ratliff is sold on Coltrane. He's certainly played with a number of the top artists, and left a mark with each one.

It's fascinating looking at the culture of jazz at a time. I've come across the historical assesment of jazz artists going for solitude in the 1950 after being more communal earlier. Coltrane and Sonny Rollins fit into the new isolationism.

The isolation approach seems comfortable to me. But then again there's a place for stepping outside the comfort zone. Discussions about these artists would make for lovely ice breakers. Then again, I could just go back to the couch and give another play to  a Monk, Coltrane, or Brubeck collection.

It's about time I reviewed Trane's Interstellar Space. Right now, I'm listening to Metric, an underrated rock band. Man doesn't live by jazz alone.

2013 in review

Posted by nlathy on December 29, 2013 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Album of the year-Savages-Silence Yourself

Runner-up-Vampire Weekend-Modern Vampires of the City

Song of the Year-Mice Parade-Warm Hand in Narnia

Disappointment of the Year-End of Robert Christgau's Expert Witness on MSN website

Longevity award-Wayne Shorter

Memorable live performance-Black Angels

Hope for pop music-Quadron

Still Hanging on for some reason-Sara Bareilles, Pet Shop Boys

Passing of a legend-Lou Reed

Magnetic Fields-69 Love Songs (Merge, 1999) 9/10

Posted by nlathy on December 19, 2013 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I've made my way through this album (more or less).

There's some filler on this one. It takes forever to get through these songs. But there are plenty of good songs. Editing of this album would have been appreciated.

There's ample hooks to go around. And the humor is plentiful.

But I have to give points to an album which has a song title "Busby Berkley Dreams." As a Berkley fan I can't help but be pleased. Turn on the Mickey and Judy movies more so than Frank, Esther and Gene.

Led Zeppelin-Led Zeppelin (Atlantic, 1969) 10/10

Posted by nlathy on December 12, 2013 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

New possibilities for heavy metal were opened up by Led Zep.

This debut features the amazing tracks "Good Times, Bad Times," "Communication Breakdown" and "Good Times, Bad Times." It's blues reworkings in a heavier and sometimes at a much faster pace.

Robert Plant's vocals are chilling.  And there's the relentlessly creative guitar playing of Jimmy Paige and the powerhouse drumming of John Bonham. 

It's a great experience. Radio played the above mentioned tracks in heavy rotation, but they still sound good. Rivalling any of them is "How Many More Times," which at 8:29 sounds about as good as anything they've ever recorded.

Nothing here quite approaches anthem category. That would come later, but this is their most satisfying album. The hypnotic quality of the music makes these tracks objects for study if not contemplation. Every cut demands repeated listenings.

They can kick the music into another gear when they have to. And they can even it slow it down, which they do on the haunting "Your Time Is Gonna Come."

It's an album to savor, and yes it's loud.

Modest Mouse-The Fruit That Ate Itself (K KLP63, 1997) 8/10

Posted by nlathy on December 6, 2013 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

This EP shows the band sounding like the Beastie Boys and the White Stripes on one cut.

There isn't any rap on "Dirty Fingernails," but there is screaming same with the excellent title cut. "Sunspots in the House of the Late Scapegoat" is one of the great tracks here, which show amazing potential at this stage in the group's career. "Summer" is incredibly strong, as well.

There aren't any duds among the nine cuts (three of which  combined barely pass 2:00). None of the tracks are longer than 3:29. It's a good look at the group's potential. You can find better songs, if you dig into the more recent part of the group's song catalog. Isaac Brock's singing takes the band into various territories, and most of its successful. They do rock. It's not quite classic rock in the truest sense of the term, but close enough.

Tony Williams-The Joy of Flying (1979,Columbia) 8/10

Posted by nlathy on November 30, 2013 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Williams made a very strong album with Lifetime. This isn't quite up to the same level.

The one cut, which rocks as hard in a jazz framework in Lifetime fashion is "Open Fire," where Ronnie Montrose plays some great guitar. A drum solo from Williams reminds the listener this album is really a showcase for Williams. Still the cuts are reasonably strong througout.

Even the free jazz "Morgan's Motions" starts to grow on me after a while. Although I don't see the need to stretch it out for 8:24.

Led Zeppelin-Presence (Swan Song, 1976) 8/10

Posted by nlathy on November 18, 2013 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Led Zeppelin is a band I had mixed emotions about even when I was playing their albums.

I admired their musical ability. And I was intrigued by Robert Plant's singing. But I couldn't help but think even at their best they could sound formulaic. And for lyrical brilliance, there were many other bands to focus on particularly the Rolling Stones and the Who in the hard rock world.

But no band had the commitment to hard and heavy rock Led Zeppelin had and managed to keep their music out the realm of pure noise. The only other heavy band, which could come up with rock this musical was Cream, and their song catalog isn't nearly as interesting.

This album isn't the band's masterpiece. Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy are much stronger. I've heard just about all of the albums they released prior to John Bonham's death, and this one is the one I like the least (I do suspect I'd like the album from the concert film less than this one if I ever listen to it).

On a couple of tracks, it feels like I'm listening to cuts they've recorded on other albums. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" is the strongest song on here. And it's not up to the level of the band's best tracks. Still nothing here is awful. The competence and occasional brilliance make it worthwhile for an occasional listen.