- PAUL SIMON: IN THE BLUE LIGHT: 2018: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Simon’s final album? Paul even makes an album of reworking past songs interesting to listen to. Not an essential album by any means but worth listening to. He has said this is it- he has retired. We shall see. For a 77 year old his voice sounds much as it always has. The two aging voices that still sound great to me- Paul and Van Morrison. It didn’t take very long to go through the entire Paul Simon canon. As a solo artist he has made 14 albums.
- PAUL MCCARTNEY: TUG OF WAR: 1982: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Paul’s best album in my opinion since Band On The Run nearly a decade earlier. This is his first album since the assassination of John Lennon and there is the excellent song for John on here “Here Today” in which Paul uncharacteristically shows his emotions. Carl Perkins makes an appearance as does Stevie Wonder on two tracks. Weird how things work- the weaker song of the two with Stevie “Ebony and Ivory” is a #1 hit- while the other song “What’s That You’re Doing?” isn’t even released as a single. The album would be on my Mount Rushmore of post- Beatles Paul albums.
- THE DECEMBERISTS: THE KING IS DEAD: 2011: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: My favorite Decemberists album. This album was described by Rolling Stone critic Douglas Wolk as “most pastoral, rustic record they’ve ever made” This album went to #1 on the album chart- they seemed to gain momentum on the charts with each release- the first two didn’t even make the Hot 200. This seems their peak so far artistically and commercially. I’d like to see them in concert sometime.
- THE DECEMBERISTS: WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD: 2015: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The title of the album comes Barry Obama’s speech following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Along with the previous “The King Is Dead”- at least to my ears the two strongest albums they have made.
- DEAN MARTIN: DINO- THE ESSENTIAL DEAN MARTIN: 2004: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: A surprise hit album in 2004-it went platinum. 30 songs from Dean- a local boy from Steubenville, Ohio. Dean certainly was no Sinatra but in all fairness no one was/is but I’ve always enjoyed listening to him. Dean was The King of Cool.
- HERMAN’S HERMITS: RETROSPECTIVE: 2004: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: These guys were shooting stars. Did they really sell more records than The Beatles in 1965 as it is always said? If so that is impressive. There are 26 songs on this one all the Herman’s Hermits you will ever need or want. One thing I noticed in listening to it from start to finish- things start to sound the same. Pleasant songs for the most part but not much meat on them. This is something you listen to once a year.
- THE RASCALS: TIME PEACE: THE RASCALS GREATEST HITS: 1968: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: I saw this album in vinyl form at a used vinyl albums for $1 sale last week but it must have had a million scratches in it. Oh well. The only problem I have with this greatest hits album- by a great 1960’s singles band- is it came out in mid 1968- so “People Got To Be Free” a #1 hit isn’t on it or 4 other Top 40 hits they ended up having. I am sure there are better career retrospectives that include everything.