- MOTT THE HOOPLE: MOTT THE HOOPLE: 1969: 3 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The debut album by Ian Hunter’s Mott The Hoople- produced by Guy Stevens who wanted to create an album that sounded like Bob Dylan fronting The Rolling Stones- at times Hunter’s vocals make you feel that you are listening to just that. A capable debut but they would quickly get better.
- QUEEN: A KIND OF MAGIC: 1986: 2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Another lackluster album- their mid to late 80’s efforts were a sad way to end things. I like Queen but they are a tad overrated. The magic Queen had over America was dying at this point- their lowest charting album since Queen II.
- VAN MORRISON: KEEP IT SIMPLE: 2008: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The first Van album of all new material written by The Man since 1999’s Back On Top. The album features all the musical genres that Van sings and it was the highest charting album in the US in Van’s career reaching #10. After this album a strange thing would happen- there wouldn’t be a new Van album until 2012- the largest gap between albums in his career.
- BARBRA STREISAND: GREATEST HITS: 1970: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Collects 11 singles from released from 1963-68. A good sampling from her best work at what would turn out to be the start of a very long career.
- STEVE EARLE: I’LL NEVER GET OUT OF THIS WORLD ALIVE: 2011: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: That title track is an old Hank Williams song- Steve at this time also released a novel with the same title- the book was pretty good too. The songs are about mortality in one way or another. A couple of the songs were written for a Joan Baez album and one The City was written for the HBO show “The Wire” which Steve had an acting part in. He seemed to be everywhere at this point in time. Good album.
- KATHY MATTEA: COAL: 2008: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: A concept album – about coal. Mattea grew up in coal country and both her grandfathers were coal miners. All the songs are covers. The album won a Grammy and it also went to #1 on the Bluegrass charts. A great idea for an album and she delivers.
- STEVE EARLE: THE LOW HIGHWAY: 2013: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: For the past decade plus Steve seems to be odd years in releasing albums. His best album since Washington Square Serenade. Highlights- the title track, Calico County, Burnin’ It Down- where he sings about burning down WallyWorld among others- really I like every song on this album and it was a great tour when he was touring on this album- these were songs you wanted to hear.
- KEN BURNS JAZZ: DUKE ELLINGTON: 2000: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Another from the Ken Burns Jazz series nearly 20 year ago- again like the Billie Holiday disc yesterday- a great sampler. I heard someone say once probably in that Burns series that Ellington’s music was the sound of the city. I can certainly hear that in this great music.
- GEORGE HARRISON: GONE TROPPO: 1982: 2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: By 1982 George was totally fed up with the music industry. He owned the record company one more album and he gave it to them and then disappeared for five years. George doesn’t seem all that engaged in the project. I do like Dream Away, Circles, That’s The Way It Goes and Mystical One- the rest-not so much. The album didn’t even chart in the UK and peaked at 108 on the US album chart- I was one of the ones who bought it.