- NICK LOWE: AT MY AGE: 2007: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: A few albums earlier Lowe had changed his songwriting style from clever- pop oriented material to a more intimate approach. He is still witty but the songs are more personal. He was approaching sixty when this album was out- and he writes about the fact he was getting older- and seemed pretty comfortable with it. I saw him in concert around this time-doing many of these songs and it was the first time I had heard the material. Great stuff. I see he is coming around on tour in a few months- planning on seeing Nick again.
- BOBBIE GENTRY: THE GIRL FROM CHICKASAW COUNTY: DISC 5: TOUCH’EM WITH LOVE: 1969: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: There is only one Bobbie Gentry written song on this album- her fifth album in less than 2 years. I don’t know where she would have found the time to write a song they were working her to death. No wonder she ended up walking away from it all- but it is still a fine album because she is singing the songs. Really enjoying this box set of her career- as brief as it was.
- RAY CHARLES: GENIUS & SOUL: THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION: 1999: VOLUME 1: A 5 CD box set covering Ray’s career came out in 1999- he died in 2004- just days after President Reagan. I keep forgetting I have meant to do a post or two about my favorite box sets. Back when box sets were a popular I certainly bought a lot of them. Anyway this is one of the best- because it does cover the man’s career pretty much from start to finish. I wrote it a week or so ago but I would rate Ray Charles as the greatest all around singer of the 20th Century. He could sing any style of music. I love Sinatra but he couldn’t handle rock and roll for example like Brother Ray. One of my favorite quotes comes from Ray Charles and I wish some of the celebrity types today who seem to only want fame would think this way- Ray once said “I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great.” Great he was.
- ROBERT FORSTER: THE EVANGELIST: 2008: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Forster’s first solo album in a dozen years. He is best remembered as a member of The Go-Betweens where he and Grant McLennan’s songwriting styles balanced each other our well- like Lennon and McCartney’s did. It was the first Forster album since McLennan’s death from a heart attack in 2006. After reading a few highly favorable reviews of this album I bought it and wasn’t disappointed. Three of the songs here were co-written by McLennan. Standouts- If I t Rains, It Ain’t Easy, Demon Days, From Ghost Town and Don’t Touch Anything.
- LYLE LOVETT: THE ROAD TO ENSENADA: 1996: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: My favorite Lyle Lovett album- won the Grammy for Best Country Album. After experimenting on a few albums he is back to the basics -like his first two albums were. Where his last few albums before this one had strayed into different areas- blues, jazz, gospel- this is a return to country. The bottom line of what makes this his best album is his songwriting on it. Some of these songs seem to deal with his marriage and divorce from that high profiled actress. This would also be his last album of Lyle written material for seven years.
- ROD STEWART: EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY: 1971: This is a perfect album. Only three of the eight were written by Stewart but they are standouts- Maggie May which went #1 in both the US and UK- helped to carry the album to #1 in both countries. The cover songs are very strong. Of rock stars who write original material and also do a lot of covers I can’t think of anyone who covered songs as well as Rod. In Jimmy Guterman’s book “The Best Rock ‘N’ Roll Records Of All Time- he had this at #1.